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Turkey - Appeal to commute the death sentence of Abdullah Ocalan

02 July 2009

Letter to H.E. Süleyman Demirel, President of the Republic, 2 July 1999.

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches I appeal to you not to carry out the death sentence pronounced by the Security Court against Abdullah Ocalan.

The World Council of Churches adopted a decade and a half ago a position which opposes the use of capital punishment. The WCC has taken this position on theological grounds, and on the basis of our conviction that the death penalty is a form of cruel and inhuman punishment which denies compassion and leaves no room for the possibility of rehabilitation of the offender. At the same time, we are concerned that steps be taken now to break the vicious cycle of violence in your country. Both Turks and Kurds must now know that the use of retributive violence contributes not to healing, but only to further suffering on both sides.

On these grounds, and trusting in your own wisdom and the value you place on the sanctity of life, we appeal to you to grant clemency and commute the death sentence given Abdullah Ocalan.

                                                                                                                                       Respectfully yours,

                                                                                                                                      Dwain C. Epps
                                                                                                                                      Director
                                                                                                                                      Commission of the Churches
                                                                                                                                      on International Affairs