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The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey

8 February 2014, 5:00 pm


Istanbul protests

When a small group of environmental campaigners began a sit-in in Gezi Park, Istanbul, last May, few could have predicted that their protest against the construction of a shopping mall would escalate into an unprecedented demonstration against the state, nor that the state would respond in the way that they did. 

In February 2014, English PEN and PEN International will launch our joint report, ‘The Gezi Park Protest: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’, assessing the violations of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly that took place during last year’s demonstrations.

Ahead of the launch, we will be holding a panel discussion at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney. Novelist and translator Maureen Freely, writer and researcher Ziya Meral and BBC journalist Selin Girit will join the author of the report Alev Yaman to discuss our findings and explore the broader issues affecting writers and freedom of expression in Turkey today. The discussion will be chaired by Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN.

The event is free, but as space is limited please email cat@englishpen.org in order to guarantee your place.

The event will be held in English and we will be using the hashtag #PENGezi.

PEN is hugely grateful to the Arcola Theatre for hosting the event, and to Philip Arditti for his support. 

* To request a copy of the report, please email cat@englishpen.org and let us know if you would prefer the English or Turkish version.



Maureen Freely is the author of seven novels (Mother’s Helper, The Life of the Party, The Stork Club, Under the Vulcania, The Other Rebecca, Enlightenment and – most recently – Sailing through Byzantium) as well as three works of non-fiction (Pandora’s ClockWhat About Us? An Open Letter to the Mothers Feminism Forgot, and The Parent Trap). The translator of five books by the Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk (Snow, The Black Book, Istanbul: Memories of a City, Other Colours and The Museum of Innocence), she is active in various campaigns to champion free expression. She also works with campaigns aiming to promote world literature in English translation. She has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and the Sunday Times for two decades, writing on feminism, family and social policy, Turkish culture and politics, and contemporary writing.

Ziya Meral is a London based Turkish researcher, academic and writer. He regularly serves as an advisor to non-governmental and governmental organizations, think-tanks, academic institutions and private companies and foundations on Turkish and Middle Eastern affairs, religion and human rights developments. He is a PhD candidate in Politics at the University of Cambridge and a Research Associate at the Foreign Policy Centre, London.

Selin Girit has worked as a journalist for over 15 years and with the BBC World Service since 2004. Selin presented and produced BBC Turkish’s flagship TV programme World Agenda for four years. She covered the Gezi protests extensively for BBC World and BBC News and was subject to a hate campaign initiated by a senior Turkish politician. Her documentary on the ensuing crackdown on press freedom, ‘Turkey’s Hidden Truths’, was first broadcast in December 2013.

Alev Yaman is a human rights advocate who has worked for various London-based organisations specialising in freedom of expression, migration studies and the rule of law. She is currently working as a researcher on Turkey for English PEN and as a consultant for PEN International. 

Jo Glanville joined English PEN as Director in September 2012 from Index on Censorship, where she served as an award-winning Editor since 2006. She was a BBC current affairs producer for eight years and appears regularly in the media as a commentator on culture and freedom of expression, including the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the London Review of Books.


8 February 2014
5:00 pm