World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

2 July 1999


cf. Press release of 9 February 1999

The World Council of Churches today sent the following letter to the president of Turkey, H.E. Süleyman Demirel:

"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."

For further information please contact:
Salpy Eskidjian, Tel. (office): (+41.22) 791 63 14; (home): (+41.22) 788 22 02, or
Clement John, Tel. (office): (+41.22) 791 63 17; (home): (+41.22) 348 07 44

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.