President Robert Kocharian
President of the Republic of Armenia.

Your Excellency:

I write as President of the American Anthropological Association to ask you to exercise leniency in the case of Yektan Turkyilmaz, a graduate student in cultural anthropology from Duke University, who was arrested in Armenia on June 17, 2005, and charged with violation of Article 215, paragraph 2 of the Armenian Criminal Code.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Turkyilmaz was exiting Armenia with about 100 books he had bought in second hand bookstores and the open air market Vernissage in Yerevan. Some of these books have been determined to be important cultural resources; thus, it is possible that Mr. Turkyilmaz was in violation of Armenian law.

The American Anthropological Association asks for leniency based upon Mr. Turkyilmaz’s well-established reputation as a knowledgeable, serious, hard-working, and ethical scholar of very great integrity. Mr. Turkyilmaz is very sympathetic to the history and identity of the Armenian people; indeed, his research was devoted to clarifying and enriching that history. Given his values and his character, Mr. Turkyilmaz is not likely to have knowingly broken the laws protecting Armenia’s cultural patrimony. His very unfortunate actions surely were the result of ignorance and misunderstanding. It is on this basis that I respectfully request your understanding and forgiveness in regard to his case.
Established in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest professional organization of individuals interested in anthropology and represents more than 11,000 cultural anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, archaeologists, and biological or physical anthropologists.

Elizabeth M. Brumfiel
President, American Anthropological Association

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