Renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan is acquitted

Renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan is acquitted:

An Istanbul court acquitted novelist Aslı Erdoğan on Feb. 14 of charges of belonging to a terrorist group, in one of a series of cases that have fueled concern among European Union states and rights groups about a deterioration of media freedom in Turkey. Ms Erdoğan, who is now living in self-imposed exile in Europe, was one of some two dozen. “Three and a half years of my life were taken away from me,” Erdoğan said. 

Osman Kavala is arrested again:

After a court acquitted businessperson Osman Kavala and ordered his release in the Gezi trial yesterday (February 18), İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued a detention warrant on him as part of another investigation related to the failed coup attempt in July 2016. European politicians, representatives of international organizations and rights defenders have criticized the decision.

Declaration for Kavala by PEN Turkey

"I don't know what to say"

The poem "It hurts" by the late
renowned Turkish Poet Turgut Uyar
starts with the lines:
"I want to talk about misery,
vertical and horizontal misery."
The poem refers to things in the past
that tended to shine but, failing to do so,
got lost in darkness.
In the middle of the poem, Uyar says,
"I don't know what to say.
My love hurts."

Likewise, we say:
My love hurts.
My mind can't understand.
My heart is burning.
My shock deepens.
My soul is darkening.
I try to comprehend -in vain.
I feel helpless.
I'm losing my hope.
I want justice.

We just want justice
for Osman Kavala.

PEN Turkey

The Loss of poet, writer Cengiz Bektaş

Poet, writer, dedicated member of PEN Turkey Cengiz Bektaş passed away. Intellectual. Architect. Poet. Author. Researcher. Critic. All these fused together in him. His architecture complemented his writing and poetry as did his writing and poetry his architecture. He was a Renaissance intellectual. His is a personality beyond the confines of ivory towers. An enthusiasm, excitement and delight-filled child-spirited intellectual, there among the people, on workers’ shoulders and alongside those usurped of their rights, careering headlong through history and geography.

When awarding Cengiz Bektaş the PEN Poetry Award in 2018 our statement was as such: ‘We celebrate Cengiz Bektaş as an exemplary intellectual of ours who imbues his poems with a cheerful atmosphere just as he does the buildings he fashions, who gives lodging to Turkey from the Mediterranean to the Aegean in his poems and who stresses through his struggle the importance of writers living in an organized fashion with his pro-labour, humanist approach and passion for Turkish.’ May he sleep in radiance.”

Joint Statement for Journalist Nedim Türfent

Today, the International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and 42  undersigned organisations mark the 1,500th day of the journalist Nedim Türfent’s imprisonment with a call for his release.

Türfent was detained on May 12, 2016, shortly after reporting on Turkish special police forces’ ill-treatment of around 40 workers in the south-eastern city of Hakkari in Spring 2016. After the video footage taken by Türfent  was and published by the now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency,, Türfent began receiving death threats from the police in the form of funeral photos. An online harassment campaign was launched against him in April 2016 including death threats and insults and anonymous or bot accounts asking about his whereabouts. 

One day after his arrest on May 13, 2016, Türfent was charged with “membership of a terrorist organization”. The indictment was first produced 13 months after his arrest, at the first hearing on June 14, 2017. By that time, Türfent had already been jailed for 399 days.

Of the 20 witnesses called in the ensuing trial, 19 said that their initial statements against Türfent had been obtained under torture. Yet the court sentenced him to eight years and nine months in prison in December 2017. On May 21, 2019, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Cassation upheld his sentence. His case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

June 21 marks 1,500 days that Türfent has spent behind bars, deprived of his freedom and the right to practice his profession – journalism. 

We call on Turkish authorities once again to stop this injustice!

Signed by:

International Press Institute (IPI)
Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)

PEN International 

PEN Turkey protests against the social media law

In a public statement PEN Turkey Centre has protested the new law on social media that will increase the oppression and censorship. The statement also draws attention to the danger of leaving the 'Istanbul Convention,' the principles of which protect women's rights -especially against domestic violence and abuse. PEN Turkey has also criticised the re-use of Hagia Sophia as a mosque. The big picture is that Erdoğan's rule is insistent on re-Ottomanisation of Turkey in spite of the principles in the constitution such as secularity and gender equality, two of the key issues Atatürk was keen on.

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