[Turkey] PEN protests the sentencing of Fazıl Say

Fazil Say

English PEN is shocked to learn that celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say has received a ten-month suspended jail sentence for comments posted on Twitter.  The sentence coincides with the opening of the London Book Fair, where Turkey is the market focus.

Last year, Say was charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code following a series of messages posted on Twitter. He was also charged under Article 218, which increases sentences by half for offences committed ‘via press or broadcast.’   

Fazıl Say, who denied the charges, faced a maximum of 18 months in prison. The conviction is in violation of Say’s right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should be overturned immediately.

Say has received an outpouring of support from UK musicians and writers, including Brian Eno and Ian McEwan, who wrote an open letter of support to Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin ahead of Say’s previous hearing. The minister for EU affairs, Egemen Bağış, is among those to have said that the case should be dismissed, describing the tweets in question as ‘his right to babble’.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

This is a case that should never have come to trial. When a figure as eminent as Fazıl Say is convicted, it sends a stark message to everyone in Turkey that the right to freedom of speech is severely restricted. Freedom of expression includes the freedom to provoke, outrage and offend. The suspended sentence handed down today is a significant chill for writers, journalists, publishers and activists in Turkey.

Further information

In the run up to the London Book Fair, English PEN wrote to Turkey’s Minister of Culture Ömer Çelik to voice concerns for Say and the many other writers and other literary professionals currently detained and on trial in Turkey.

Find out more about English PEN’s Turkey Focus 2013 here. 

TAKE ACTION

Send letters of appeal

  • Protesting the conviction of  Fazıl Say in violation of his right to free expression as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory.

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=”Fazıl Say”]

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 ten-month suspended sentence handed down to Fazıl Say on 15 April 2013. 

According to PEN’s information, celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say has been charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code following a series of messages posted on Twitter. He was also charged under Article 218, which increases sentences by half for offences committed ‘via press or broadcast.’ 

I believe that this conviction is in violation of Say’s right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should be overturned immediately.

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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