Bob Dole has written a letter to Robert Kocharian urging him to free Yektan Turkyilmaz. Below are the full contents of the letter:
Senator Bob Dole
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
North Building, 10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20004
August 2, 2005
H.E. Robert Kocharian
Republic of Armenia
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to urge you to release Mr. Yektan Turkyilmaz, a Duke University graduate student who has been detained in Armenia since June 17. As I understand it, Yektan broke an obscure law that prohibits exportation of any book--regardless of its rarity, historical significance, or value--more than fifty years old. I also understand, however, that he has been jailed without being charged, and that your authorities intend to hold him indefinitely pending the filing of charges and an eventual trial.
Duke University officials asked me to intervene because I am a longstanding friend of Armenia and because my wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole, is an alumna and former trustee of the university. Elizabeth and I remain prominent supporters of your country, but the issues raised by Yektan's detention go beyond our ties to Armenia and past support by raising questions about Armenia's democratic progress and commitment to the rule of law.
Yektan's detention would seem to highlight problems cited in numerous human rights reports about Armenia, including those of Freedom House and the U.S. State Department. Freedom House, upon which Members of Congress rely to evaluate requests for U.S. aid, does not rank Armenia as a democracy, and further lowered its already unflattering "partly free" rating last year due to your government's mistreatment of opposition leaders and supporters. Your detention of Yektan for seven weeks on any grounds would draw attention to failings in Armenia's democratic evolution. To detain him on grounds as dubious as these calls into question Armenia's commitment to democracy in the first place.
Yesterday, I was pleased to learn that Dr. Vartan Gregorian has offered to post bail for Yektan, but allowing bail only addresses the symptoms resulting from the larger issues at stake in this case. I urge you to investigate the actions of your government, prosecutors and police and release Yektan at once. I also urge you to ask your legislature to examine this strange law, which, if not unique in the world, is certainly unique in the community of free nations.
Your treatment of Yektan makes Armenia look bad--with good reason. Armenia has many friends in the United States, but we cannot and will not defend the indefensible. Thank you for your consideration, and good luck in your continuing service to the people and nation of Armenia.