Turkey Focus 2013: PEN Turkey

English PEN’s sister organisation PEN Turkey is currently under investigation as a result of critical comments about the ongoing prosecution of celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say.

In June 2012, PEN Turkey’s website carried a statement condemning the prosecution of the musician and writer Fazıl Say on charges of religious defamation, stating that ‘the international community has been put on alert in the face of fascist developments in Turkey’.

Six months later, in January 2013, the board of PEN Turkey (President Tarık Günersel, Vice-President Halil İbrahim Özcan, General Secretary Sabri Kuşkonmaz, Treasurer Tülin Dursun, board members Zeynep Oral and Mario Levi, and former board member Ahmet Erözenci) were called in for questioning by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, alongside poet and critic Nihat Ateş who had uploaded the content in question to the PEN Turkey website. According to reports, the accusation against PEN Turkey was made by a private individual.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, PEN Turkey board members may face charges under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (publicly denigrating Turkish ethnicity, the government of Turkey, its institutions or its military/security forces), which carries a prison sentence of six months to two years. In addition, board members may face charges of ‘attempting to influence the judicial process’ under Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code.

English PEN believes that our colleagues at PEN Turkey were making legitimate critical comment about a controversial trial and exercising their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory. We therefore respectfully call on the Turkish authorities to drop this investigation at the earliest opportunity. Please join us.

Further information

PEN Turkey continues to fight for freedom of speech

(This piece first appeared on Hurriyet Daily News on 18 March 2013.)

TAKE ACTION

Send letters of appeal

  • Calling for the investigation against PEN Turkey to be dropped at the earliest opportunity.

Appeals to

Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Ankara
Turkey
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Email: sadullahergin@adalet.gov.tr

His Excellency Mr. Ünal Çeviköz
43 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PA
Fax: 020 7393 9213
Email: embassy.london@mfa.gov.tr

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.

[ecampaign ‘to=embassy.london@mfa.gov.tr‘ subject=”In support of PEN Turkey”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to protest the ongoing investigation of their sister organisation PEN Turkey.

According to PEN’s information, in June 2012 PEN Turkey’s website carried a statement condemning the prosecution of the musician and writer Fazıl Say for religious defamation, which stated that ‘the international community has been put on alert in the face of fascist developments in Turkey’.

Six months later, in January 2013, the board of PEN Turkey (President Tarık Günersel, Vice-President Halil İbrahim Özcan, General Secretary Sabri Kuşkonmaz, Treasurer Tülin Dursun, board members Zeynep Oral and Mario Levi, and former board member Ahmet Erözenci) were called in for questioning by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, alongside poet and critic Nihat Ateş who had uploaded the content in question to the PEN Turkey website. According to reports, the accusation against PEN Turkey was made by a private individual.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, PEN Turkey board members may face charges under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (publicly denigrating Turkish ethnicity, the government of Turkey, its institutions or its military/security forces), which carries a prison sentence of six months to two years. In addition, board members may face charges of ‘attempting to influence the judicial process’ under Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code.

I believe that PEN Turkey was making legitimate critical comment about a controversial trial and exercising its right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory. I therefore respectfully call on the Turkish authorities to drop this investigation at the earliest opportunity.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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