On Monday 15 April, celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say is due to appear in court for the third time for comments posted on Twitter. Say has been charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code in response to a series of messages he posted and re-tweeted, and under Article 218 of the Turkish Penal Code, which increases sentences by half for offences committed ‘via press or broadcast’. Say, who denies the charges, faces up to 18 months in prison if found guilty.
English PEN believes that the charges against Say are in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory, and continues to call for them to be dropped immediately and unconditionally.
Say’s third hearing coincides with the opening of the London Book Fair (15-17 April), at which Turkey is this year’s market focus. English PEN is hosting a series of events with leading writers and publishers from Turkey at the Book Fair and at other venues in London, and will be raising our concerns around Say’s case and the continuing threats to free speech in Turkey.
Of additional concern to English PEN is the fact that our colleagues at PEN Turkey remain under investigation for ‘insulting the state’ in relation to critical comments about the ongoing prosecution of Say. The board of PEN Turkey along with poet and critic Nihat Ateş (who uploaded the content to the PEN Turkey website) were called in for questioning in January 2013 by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office. We continue to urge Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to drop the investigation against PEN Turkey at the earliest opportunity.
Further information on Fazıl Say’s case is available here.
English PEN Actions for Fazıl Say
- Trial of Fazıl Say to continue in April (20 February 2013)
- UK artists show support for musician and writer Fazıl Say (17 February 2013)
- Open letter to Turkey’s Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin (17 February 2013)
- English PEN protests charges against Fazıl Say (13 February 2013)
- PEN Turkey under investigation for ‘insulting the state’ (10 January 2013)
Send letters of appeal
- Protesting the charges against Fazıl Say, which violate his right to free expression as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory;
- Calling for the investigation against PEN Turkey to be dropped at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
His Excellency Mr. Ünal Çeviköz
43 Belgrave Square
Fax: 020 7393 9213
Or you could use the form below. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.