Ismail Beşikci, champion of Kurds’ rights, barred from the USA

KT Report:

Ismail Beşikci

Ismail Beşikci

Ismail Beşikci – the renowned Turkish sociologist who spent 17 years in jail for writing about Turkey’s Kurds – has been barred from travelling to the USA to address two conferences. Dr. Beşikci was about to fly from Istanbul airport on Sunday with Ibrahim Gunduz, head of the Ismail Beşikci Foundation, when the pair were stopped from boarding their plane by Turkish state officials.

As a guest of the Kurdish American Society (KAS), Dr. Beşikci had an engagement tomorrow at the Mustafa Barzani Graduate Peace Fellowship at the American University in Washington DC. On Saturday he was due to speak at the Riverside Church in New York (where Martin Luther King delivered his historic 1967 oration against the Vietnam war).

Ibrahim Gunduz told reporters that the Turkish officials had claimed they were acting on instructions from the USA.“We are shocked that Beşikci was prevented from boarding the plane even though he had a visa. We hope that this mistake will be rectified as soon as possible,” said KAS spokesperson Yuksek Serindag.

For years Dr Beşikci was the most prominent among a minority of Turks who dared, despite the consequences, to speak out against the brutal state oppression of Kurds. Two years ago, the Ismail Beşikci Foundation was established in Istanbul to make Dr Beşikci’s substantial library available to the public and to promote Kurdish and civil rights studies in Turkey and internationally. The US ban was unexpected, especially since Dr Beşikci has recently been able to travel to address conferences in Europe.

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