Greetings and News from PEN Turkey Centre -wishing a fruitful year

Dear PEN Int'l Board led by our Int’l President and friend Jennifer Clement,  former -but always concerned- PEN Int’l President John Ralston Saul, Int’l Vice Presidents each of who is a unique leader, Int’l PEN Int’l Secretary Kätlin Kaldmaa, who combines joy with depth, sister PEN Centres that illuminate these dark times with their members and solidarity,
devoted Int’l Chairs of our four committees, Network volunteers –idealist realists, and, last but not least,  our hard-working PEN Int’l Staff led by poet Carles Torner,
Dear Friends,

We are glad to announce that the Congress of PEN Turkey Centre was held on January 6th, 2018, and all but one member were re-elected

The March for Justice in Turkey - Zeynep Oral

History will record this march, my child: We are walking as a silent protest for justice, without which there can be no democracy. By justice, I mean real justice, beneficial not only to the government but to everybody equally.
This march is for the right to oppose, which has been denied. It is to be able to give voice to thoughts without fear.
See, my child, this march is to defend the rights of the coal miners who were killed in Soma, western Turkey, because of working under inhuman conditions. It is to put an end to the indecency of the scandalous disregarding the value of human life. It is to highlight the fact that the right to live is the most precious value among all.
Our march is to defend the rights of more than 100 thousand civil servants and hundredths of Academics  who lost their right to work. It is to prevent the deaths of the two devoted teachers who have been on hunger strike for more than four months now: Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça. They are among the citizens unfairly expelled from their jobs.

From Prison to Prix Voltaire

Turhan Günay  was one of the journalists  of Cumhuriyet  who was arrested and put to prison  after the July  2016  coup attempt.  One among more then 150 journalists who are still in prison  ...He was the  executives  at Cumhuriyet Books, and editorial director of the Cumhuriyet Book Supplement .

After 9 months of  prison he was released  last week.   Yesterday it was announced that  Publisher Turhan Günay and publishing house Evrensel, both from Turkey, have been named joint recipients of the 2017 International Publishers Association (IPA) prize for courage in upholding the freedom to publish, the IPA Prix Voltaire.

PEN Turkey Centre’s Statement on Freedom of Press- On the occasion of the Cumhuriyet Writers Trial

Today is July 24th. We are celebrating  with great joy and happiness!  24 July  is the anniversary of the  abolition  of censorship in Turkey, in 1908, (after, in the pre-republican era, the Ottoman Sultan had been forced to re-open parliament) . Since then for 109 years,  we have been celebrating this date  as the "Day of Journalists and Press Freedom"  in the freest country of the world.

No matter what their opinions are and which newspapers they write for, our journalists are free to think and express themselves: they freely do research, they question freely , talk freely , write freely , criticize freely, comment freely , discuss  freely –without even the slightest negative reaction from the authorities, feeling under no pressure what so ever , without any official or unofficial threats.

PEN Turkey Centre declares : “Without Justice”

On these days, under these present circumstances, as PEN Association of  Writers of Turkey, we need to re-emphasize and declare to the public that:

Lack of Justice means the end of the world has already come.
Lack of Justice means no ties have survived that could have kept society together.
Where there is no Justice, summers are not beautiful, fruits are not delicious.
Where there is no Justice, songs are considered to be lies -and poems fake.
In a land without Justice, there can be neither pride about the past nor confidence in a bright future.
A day without Justice is felt to last as long as a century.
Nature abandons the world if it is without Justice; trees die, waters dry up, birds cease  singing.
Cruelty reigns in a place without Justice; there is injustice, evil.
Only if there is Justice can there be civilization –with honour, pride, history; only there can there be humanity.

If there is no Justice, then there is nothing.      
PEN Turkey Centre -15 June 2017

PEN Turkey: Democracy against all sorts of coup d’etats!

Democracy is the most natural right of the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Natural: i.e. like water, like air, like love, like freedom. A human being wants to experience them all thoroughly. One wants to live as a human, with one’s land, environment, universe. Democracy is our love that we have not managed to embrace at all. Whenever we tend to believe that we have finally embraced it, we realize that its eyes are covered and we are hand-cuffed in dungeons.
The people of Turkey did show, on July 15th last year, that coups were not fate. Against those who attempted a coup d’etat, they proved that they could defend the homeland, the democratic system, the parliamentary regime. That resistance was the greatest guarantee against further coup attempts. But there is one way to strengthen the quarantee: Democracy; by not misusing the coup attempt as an excuse for more oppression and violence, by never giving up justice, rights and law; by respecting the separation of powers.

Take action to protect journalists caught in Turkey’s crackdown


World Press Freedom Day:
Take action to protect journalists caught in Turkey’s crackdown

3 May 2017 - The space for freedom of expression is rapidly shrinking in Turkey. Following a contested constitutional referendum, which took place under a state of emergency allowing heavy restrictions on freedom of expression, the narrow win for President Erdogan’s “Yes” campaign grants wide-reaching, centralised new powers to the president including the right to rule by decree, appoint ministers and top judges at his discretion, and to abolish parliament.
The Turkish authorities’ campaign was marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions and these concerns were echoed by international observers at OSCE who presented in their post-referendum report, underlining an “unlevel playing field” in the lead up to the elections.
According to PEN International’s records, 173 media outlets have been shut down, whilst more than 150 journalists and media workers remain behind bars since the crackdown on free expression widened in July. In 31 October 2016, Turkish police arrested 14 board members of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest and one of the few remaining opposition papers. On 4 November 2016, four staff members were released, while the remaining nine were formally charged. Less than a week later the paper’s chief executive, Akın Atalay, was arrested and further action in the investigation against the paper landed journalist Ahmet Şık and accountant Emre İper behind bars.

Following contested constitutional referendum, PEN urges Turkey to reinstate fundamental rights

(18 April 2017) Following Turkey’s contested constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017, the Turkish government and president should end its immense crackdown on freedom of expression and reverse the decision to extend the state of emergency for three more months, PEN International said in a statement today.

The 51.3 percent win for President Erdogan’s “Yes” campaign grants wide-reaching centralised new powers to the president including the right to rule by decree, appoint ministers and top judges at his discretion, and to abolish parliament and call elections at any time. It also removes the authority of parliament to attain and assess ministers, budget bills, whilst also making it harder to impeach the president of criminal behaviour.

Zeynep Oral’a ‘Özgür Ses Ödülü'

Katalan PEN Yazarlar Birliği, her yıl verdiği “Özgür Ses Ödülü”nü bu yıl yazarımız Zeynep Oral’a verdi. Oral, “Ülkemde eğer bir tek yazar bile haksız yere hapisteyse, hiçbirimiz özgür olamayız” diyerek, ödülünü hapisteki Cumhuriyet yazarlarına adadı.

Katalan PEN Yazarlar Birliği, her yıl verdiği “Özgür Ses Ödülü” nü bu yıl yazarımız Zeynep Oral’a verdi. Önceki akşam Menorca Adası’ndaki törende ödülünü İspanya’nın Katalunya Özerk Bölgesi Kültür Bakanı Miquel Angel Maria ve PEN Başkanı Carme Arenas’ın elinden alan Zeynep Oral, “Ülkemde eğer bir tek yazar bile haksız yere hapisteyse, hiçbirimiz özgür olamayız” diyerek, ödülünü hapisteki Cumhuriyet yazarlarına, on arkadaşına adadı.

Bu yıl yedincisi verilen “Özgür Ses Ödülü”, düşünce ve ifade özgürlüğü sınırlanan ya da engellenenlerin sesini duyurma çabasındaki, insan hakları savunucusu bir yazara veriliyor. Aynı zamanda, o ülkedeki insan haklarına ilişkin duyarlık geliştiriliyor. 15 Kasım Dünya Hapisteki Yazarlar Günü çerçevesinde gerçekleştirilen ödül törenini, Katalunya’nın başkenti Barcelona’da bir dizi konferans izliyor... Bu ödülü daha önce alanlar arasında İranlı gazeteci yönetmen Ahmaf Jalali Farahani; Eritrealı şair Dessale Berekhet; Çadlı yazar Koutsy Lamko, Cezayir’den yazar Salem Zenia, Balear Adaları Öğretmenler Kolektifi ve Kübalı gazeteci Hernandez Gonzales ve var...
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