Amnesty International supporter Ziya Kocabiyik is to cycle the 969 miles from Lands End to John O Groats to raise funds to assist in defending human rights in Turkey.
Kocabiyik will set off on his 969-mile journey on May 4th, cycling for nine days and stopping in nine locations where he will meet with activists from local Amnesty groups.
He will stop in Okehampton, Bath, Ludlow, Haydock, Penrith, Hamilton, Fort William and the Kyle of Sutherland, before concluding his trip at John O Groats.
Chelmsford-based Ziva Kocabiyik is himself from Turkey and has watched in horror as innocent friends and relatives have been arrested by the Turkish government, following a failed coup attempt in 2016. He explains what has motivated him to cycle from Lands End to John O Groats: “There is only one way this awful situation in Turkey can change: a free media which defends human rights. Raising awareness and supporting Amnesty International will allow this organization to the be the voice of victims in Turkey.”
He has helped many people fleeing from persecution in Turkey, hosting them in his home in Chelmsford. As a prominent activist, Kocabiyik fears being arrested himself should he attempt to return to Turkey.
Training for Lands End to John O Groats
Since taking the decision in December to cycle from Lands End to John O Groats, he has been following a five-day training schedule, mixing threshold, interval, and endurance sessions. He strongly recommends the benefits of cycling for fitness and weight loss. Although relatively new to cycling, he loves the sport and commented:
“I got my first and current road bike in September 2016 as a birthday gift from my wife. I must say, it is a life-changing gift.”
Many Amnesty activists will come to show support for Kocabiyik as he travels across the country. He will meet with supporters from Truro and Falmouth, Devon, Bath, Bristol, Ludlow, Leominster and Hereford, Fylde Coast and Glasgow.
Human rights violations in Turkey
Since an attempted military coup in July 2016, the Turkish government has responded with increasing authoritarianism. Human rights violations have risen and nearly 90,000 civil servants were dismissed. Hundreds of media outlets and NGOs were closed down and journalists, activists, and MPs were detained.
Human rights activists known as the Istanbul 10 – along with Amnesty’s Turkey chair Taner Kılıç – were detained and held in detention on charges of terrorism-related crimes last July. Kılıç remains in detention awaiting trial, even as all evidence points to his innocence.
Amnesty has 231 local groups across the UK with over 625,000 people in the UK supporting Amnesty’s work. Local groups meet on a regular basis to campaign, fundraise and take action against human rights abuses.
You can donate to support Kocabiyik’s cause here.