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.

After the bloody coup attempt

After the bloody coup attempt in Turkey on July 15th, (which was stopped by the army, police, political parties and people) a state of emergency was declared. A number of journalists and authors have been detained in relation to it, which limits the freedom of expression and communication. Thus accusations and clues must be shared with the public. Otherwise, distrust to judiciary will grow. Albert Camus said: “Free press may be good or bad; but unfree press is definitely bad.” In a time when the sense of justice needs to be reconstructed, we find it our duty to re-emphasise our approach to the public.

PEN Turkey Centre

27 July 2016


We strongly condemn those who attempted a coup d’etat on July 15th. They staged an armed and bloody attack against the Parliament of our Republic of Turkey established thanks to the leadership of Atatürk.

We once again emphasize that the principle of secularism, respecting the Constitution and laws as well as the separation of powers are vital for a true democracy and peace. We think that using mosques for political gain is a dangerous mistake. We demand that the provocative announcements that might divide the nation into enemy camps be stopped immediately; they might lead to clashes between siblings, the police, army and civilians.

Jennifer Clement- Opening words for BLED Meeting 2016

I am honored to be here today with all of you and honored to celebrate PEN Slovenia’s 90th anniversary. I am here today with PEN’s International’s Secretary Hori Takeaki, Antonio Della Rocca, Board Member and our Executive Director, Carles Torner, to honor the anniversary and also because of the gravity of our times. We could be no where else.

There are places on our broken planet we associate with moments when humankind has acted with greatness. In past decades I think of Nuremburg. I think of Cape Town and The Hague. And I think of Bled.

A few weeks ago there was an historic meeting held between the Turkish and Kurdish PEN Centers. Afterward Zeynep Oral, President of Turkish PEN, wrote in her report the following, “At present, even uttering the word “peace” is dangerous, open to accusation, punishment and attacks”.

PEN Peace Conference: “Farewell to Arms”

25 April 2016
PEN International, Kurdish PEN Centre and PEN Turkey Centre held a Peace Conference in Diyarbakır-Turkey on 24-25 April, 2016.PEN Int’l President Jennifer Clement and President Emeritus John Ralston Saul sent video messages of appreciation and solidarity. PEN Int’l was represented by Vice-President Eugene Schoulgin and Peace Committee Int’l Chair Tone Peršak, Kurdish PEN by President Shexmus Sefer, and PEN Turkey by President Zeynep Oral and Vice-President Halil Ibrahim Özcan.

The opening speeches, including the one by Diyarbakır Co-Mayor Fırat Anlı, were followed by the peace letter read by Mrs Türkan Elçi; her husband Tahir Elçi was assassinated last year, when he was President of Diyarbakır Bar.

The guest speakers were Prof. Dr. Abbas Vali, Prof. Dr. Jabbar Kadir, Prof. Dr. Jean Pierre Massias, sociologist Dr Nazan Üstündağ, journalist Yüksel Genç, lawyer Fikret Ilkiz, and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Cumhuriyet Can Dündar.

Letter to Kurdish PEN Centre from PEN Turkey Centre


23 January 2016

Peace, now –immediately!

One more child, one more youngster, one more child, one more youngster! With each child and youngster, with each human being that is killed, humanity dies. With each human who is murdered, bombed, caught in crossfire, there is more and more hatred with desire for revenge. Each youngster who is sent to his or her death has the same colour blood, and with each loss the emptiness left behind and the unbearable suffering is the same…

For months now, in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, Diyarbakır and other places, masses of citizens of the Republic of Turkey  had to leave their homes, villages and cities,; some had to survive   all the restrictions imposed on them;  some have been caught in crossfire; some cannot reach the dead bodies of the ones beloved;  some   do not have access to their victimized family members, and some have no water or food.

Electing our new PEN International President

Dear PEN Members,

For the first time since 1921, we will have a woman colleague as our International President. All three candidates are wonderful: Jennifer Clement, Vida Ognjenovic and Zeynep Oral.In view of the equality of all three candidates, the international situation is an important factor in this election. Amidst growing chaotic oppression and more bloodshed each day, I’d like to share my view as a former member of PEN International Board.

The equality of men and women has been on the agenda of every civilized movement. Unfortunately, it is menaced by sectarian religious organizations and governments in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Writers, poets, playwrights, critics, cartoonists, bloggers, journalists, editors, translators, publishers, performers, and peaceful demonstrators are under attack in many ways. There are also wars, armed conflicts, tragedies including those of beheaded children, sexual slavery, torture and terrified refugees. Linguistic and LGBTI rights are still far from being recognised in so many places.

PEN Letter August 2015

6 August 2015

Dear / Esteemed PEN members,

I am writing the letter for August in pain. Once more our country is engulfed in a pool of blood!

Two days ago, we published a statement in the name of PEN Turkey Directorial Board: “PEN Turkey calls the Parliament on Duty: and the Authorities to Exercise the Language of Peace.” Our friend, Nihat Ateş, delivered our call to all the members. I won’t repeat it here.
(Those who’ve missed it take a look here:

This was neither our first call nor the last… We had condemned the Suruc Massacre claimed by ISIS on the 20th of July with the following words:

“32 young lives have been brutally taken from our hands in Suruc. We condemn this massacre that took place at the Amara Cultural Centre during a press release. We demand from the authorities two bring those responsible for this attack against Turkey, humanity and brotherhood to justice. The language of peace has always been harder to exercise then the language of war. We have always stood up for peace. And now we will work to defend it even stronger… We wish patience to the families and friends of out brothers that lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery for those that were injured.”
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