The letter received an enormous response in France and other countries, and contributed in the end to Dreyfus’ complete rehabilitation, restoring his previous military rank, granting him France’s top order Legion d’Honeur, and delivering a public apology to him.
In 1994, exactly 100 years after the arrest of Alfred Dreyfus, Kurdish doctor Yekta Uzunoglu was arrested in Prague, Czech Republic. Having studied medicine in Prague, he settled in Czechoslovakia and Germany. He took an active part in the Doctors Without Borders organization, helping within its ranks to the Kurdish people living the hardships of war and genocide. Uzunoglu has participated in the edition of a Kurdish grammar book, translated parts of the Bible and several works of Czech writer Karel Capek to the Kurdish language, and undertaken a Czech translation and edition of Kurdish proverbs. He has cooperated with the Kurdish Institute in Paris and co-founded the Kurdish Institute in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1979, he was expelled from Czechoslovakia for his democratic attitudes, and returned in 1990.
Yekta Uzunoglu has been a successful entrepreneur. He has edited and published the book Economic Prospects of the Czech Republic in 1994.
In the same year, 1994, doctor Uzunoglu was arrested on charges based on a testimony received from a Turkish citizen who had been living in the Czech Republic under an alias as a police agent. The man accused Uzunoglu of seizing and torturing him. As the file was consequently expanded with charges of planning murders, robbery, fraud, and holding arms without license, Uzunoglu spent two and a half years in custody. Along with Uzunoglu, three other Kurds were arrested and charged. One of them died shortly after being released, probably as a result of maltreatment in the custody.
Uzunoglu’s arrest came after he successfully mediated in winning a foreign contract worth over $300 million for the Czech Republic, and after receiving clear warnings from collaborators of the Czech "old regime" that he put his hands off the contract. Uzunoglu spent 31 months in the custody, with the last 5 months upon a request from the High Court of the Czech Republic, despite the fact that none of the absurd charges has ever been reliably examined and documented. A high number of law violations occurred in the investigation, with supervising authorities turning a blind eye to them.
Already in 1996, Czech parliament member Pavel Dostal warned in the press that the case would turn into an international nuisance for the Czech Republic. Czech interior and justice ministers were asked for testimony on the case by parliament members Jicinsky, Dostal, and Drapela in four separate parliament hearings. In one of his statements, a former interior minister even admitted that Uzunoglu had been abused by the police. In the same period, and possibly moved to express its sympathies and support, the Federal Republic of Germany granted Uzunoglu citizenship, delivering him the documents to a Czech prison.
Released from custody where he spent 31 months, Uzunoglu did not leave for Germany, despite being a new citizen of the country. He chose to stay in the Czech Republic in order to lead his long-lasting fight to a victorious end and receive a full satisfaction from the Czech justice. The prosecution against him was stopped on September 25, 2003 as "the right of everyone charged to receive a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time, as anchored in Article 6, Paragraph 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights, has been violated" (undersigned by Judge Vitezslav Rasik). Uzunoglu appealed from the judgment, and his appeal was recognized. He has used his full right to demand that the court completely acquit him from the absurd charges.
It will remain as a perpetual shame on our country that the Czech justice, having found itself puzzled with the Uzunoglu case, attempted in January 2003 to transfer the case proceedings via the Czech Justice Ministry to Turkey – a country that has pursued this Kurd since 1970, with his humanitarian work in Kurdistan as one of the reasons. Turkey seized Uzunoglu’s passport and forbade him to enter the country.
Doctor Yekta Uzunoglu’s fight has grown far beyond a mere personal struggle. It is now also our fight for justice. We are convinced that the state and performance of justice in a country gives the true image of its situation, with our own country being no exception. The founder of independent Czechoslovakia, T. G. Masaryk, said: "Justice is the mathematics of humanity."
We, ordinary citizens of the Czech Republic, feel a part of responsibility for the scandalous prosecution of doctor Uzunoglu. His case has, since long ago, assumed Dreyfus-like dimensions and it high time for putting a definite and just end to it. We must, however, raise the legitimate question: What are the genuine causes behind this justice scandal and the mismanagement of our public and government officials, entrusted with administering our country and recording a total failure in this case?
Departing from what has been declared above:
We accuse the representatives of our judicial power who have worked on the case, the public prosecutors and judges of all relevant courts including the presiding judges of the High Court and Attorney Generals who were in the office during the 1994-2005 period, of not fulfilling their duties and not making good the damage.
We accuse the interior and justice ministers from that period, as well as the Czech prime minister who supervised their work, of not listening attentively to the complaints on law breaches reported to them in letters written by Uzunoglu – while being in custody – and by other people, and of not complying with their constitutional duties as they omitted their powers for examining and clearing the mishandlings related to the case.
We accuse, likewise, the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Czech Republic who served their terms during the 1994-2005 period of indolence and inaction over the grave mistakes and shortcomings of the organs in charge criminal proceedings that the Uzunoglu case brought to light.
All the aforementioned officials of our legislative, executive, and judicial powers bear the responsibility for Uzunoglu’s 31 months spent in custody and for the appalling 12 years of the inability of the Czech justice to settle the Uzunoglu case.
At the same time, we lay to those journalists’ charge who, hunting for scoop matters, provided the public with distorted or even false information on the Uzunoglu case, inflicting thus a grave damage on the credit of doctor Uzunoglu and betraying the moral standards of their mission.
Whatever the reasons of this failure of the Czech Republic, it is necessary to close the shameful case of doctor Uzunoglu in shortest possible time by granting him a public apology and acknowledgments for not giving up the fight for honour, freedom, and justice, struggling not only on his own behalf but also for the sake of a country that has become his new homeland.
It took 12 years to reach a complete rehabilitation for Alfred Dreyfus that took place exactly 100 years ago, in 2006.
In September this year, 12 years will pass since the arrest of doctor Yekta Uzunoglu. We will not feel that justice rules in our country unless doctor Yekta Uzunoglu is given a complete rehabilitation and an appropriate and public apology for the sufferings and wrongdoings caused to him by our country’s authorities. Only this manner of apology can persuade Czech citizens that the erroneous practices and procedures belong to a past that will never be repeated again.
The example of a great country – France – has shown this is possible and correct. It was the apology offered by France’s leading officials to Dreyfus that has become a remarkable symbol of the country’s greatness.
František Janouch , Tána Fischerová , Kveta Jechová, Karel Jech, Svatopluk Karásek , Jaroslav Korán, Dana Nemcová , Karel Schwarzenberg , Jirina Šiklová , Libuše Šilhánová, Venek Šilhán, Jaromír Štetina , Petruška Šustrová
For more information, contact: František Janouch, [email protected]
Until 12th of April 2007 signed open letter "We accuse…" another 102 persons:
Miroslav Abbrent, Alena Abbrentová, Jan Beneš, Jirí Beneš, Jelena Bonner-ová, Jan Bouzek, Ing. Ivan Cuker, Jana Cervenková, Václav Danek, Jirí Dedecek, Václav Dostál, PhDr Miloslav Doubrava, Jan Zeno Dus, Martin Groman, Ing František Hezoucký, Jirí Hochman (USA), Josef Hrubý, Vlasta Chramostová, Philipp Janýr, Milan Jungmann, Anna Kareninová, Vladimír Karfík, Mgr. Rita I. Kindlerová, Doc. RNDr. Zdenek Kluiber, CSc., Ph.D., Stanislav Krecek, Prof. Miroslav Kutílek, Martin Mejstrík, Stanislav Milota, Mgr.Karel Mrzílek, Mina Norlin-ová, Doc. PhDr. Zdenek Pinc, Miloš Rejchrt, Vera Roubalová, Bretislav Rychlík, Jan Sokol, Jirí Stránský, Jan Šinágl, Ing. Petr Šimcák, Prof. dr. Pavel Štepánek, Ph.D., Jana Štroblová, Alexander Tomský, Jirí Tomáš, Ota Ulc, Jan Urban, Ing. Otakar Vojtech, CSc, Bronislava Volková, Prof. Ivan Wilhelm, Dr. Neela Winkelmannová, Jitka Žáková, Hana Rysová, Jana Truksová, František Rudl, Jaroslav Opat, Jirí Rejthar, Zora Rysová, Igor Linhart, Jarmila Stibicová, Karel Petioký, Lucie a Jirí Profotovi, Eva Joachimová, Zuzana Dienstbierová, Petr Milota, Jana Štvértnová, Monika Žárská, Mgr.Pavel Hlavác, Ivan Peschka, Zdenka a Milan Bártovi, Doc.Dr.Miloslav Kaláb (Canada), Mgr.Pavel Wiener, Václav Vlk, Václav Marhoul, Mgr.Petr Nymburg, Slávka Pešulová, Jan Beránek, K.Bocek, Mgr.Ondrej Perlík, Jaroslav Kos, Marie Fojtiková, Martin Madera, prof.RNDr.Martin Cernohorský,CSc., Zdenek Sverák, Blanka Císarovská, Jitka Pešulová, Jitka Pešulová ml., Mgr.Tomáš Jurcík, Eva Vavroušková, Monika MacDonagh-Pajerová, Dušan Mlynarcík, Milan M. Horák, Slávka Sveráková, Štepánka Matúšková, Ivan Martin Jirous, Pavel Kacírek, Martin Morava, MUDr.Milena Cerná, Hélène Krulich-Ghassemlou (Paris), Juliette Minces (Paris), Karin Mannet (Paris), Olga Betáková, Jakub Hájek