Esteemed Presidents and Members of the Centers of International P.E.N.

I have taken over the presidency of the Turkish PEN Center. I feel excited and, I am honoured to be in this big family in which diverse, genuine and wonderful voices and personalities reside side by side.

Writing is the hope of being able to change the world, and a promise made for the whole mankind to be able to achieve eternity. However, today, at the beginning of the 21st Century, our civilization is still not rid of racial and linguistic discrimination, the violation of human rights and freedom of expression, and not rid of the barriers set before the word. What is more important is that, we are under threat of great disasters that are caused by the destruction of nature in a hazardous way, more than ever.

Like all the laborers who have undertaken the task of writing in the world, like all the translators, editors, and the authors who use their pens on behalf of promoting the freedom and happiness of mankind, and like all those who continue to believe in the unifying and constructive power of literature, which also has the capability of dividing and distributing shares among people, we, the writers and PEN members who live in Turkey, cherish the idea of establishing strong connections with PEN and its principles in order to bring our voices together, and express our anxiety about the future loudly. Thus, our voices will turn into a big chorus that will be heard from all the corners of the World, and thus we will remain, no matter what the conditions are. We will never give up defending the universal human values, nor cease writing. We write with the aspiration and hope of creating a world that will befit the self-respect of the human being, a world in which there will be more justice, more freedom and peace.

I and my colleagues who work for the Turkish PEN Center would like to convey our most sincere feelings of respect and affection from Turkey to all the esteemed writers and presidents of the Centers of the member countries of International P.E.N.

With my best regards

June 8, 2009  Istanbul



Letter to writers of the world: UnFreedom of expression and PEN-Turkey

Tarık Günersel, PEN-Turkey

“Almost all of us are mortal,” said a French scholar in the presence of Louis XIV. He was afraid to say “We are all mortal.” 
      There has always been a tension between political power and freedom of expression. And at present, there is a serious tension in Turkey. To name just a few examples:
     *Article 301 of the Penal Code is still used and more than 700 citizens have been taken to court in relation to it.
     *PEN member Nedim Gürsel is on trial because of his novel “The Daughters of Allah” (or “God’s Daughters”) –upon the accusation that some sentences in the novel may hurt the feelings of some believers, though some sentences are misquoted.
     *The former PEN President Üstün Akmen, who is the president of the Association of Theater Critics,  is on trial due to the accusation that he has insulted the authorities who had banned a theatrical performance.
     *PEN member Pınar Selek, the leading feminist sociologist who had to spend 2.5 years in prison although she was found innocent of an explosion (which was claimed to be the result of a bomb but which turned out to be an accident related to a gas pipe), is taken to court again.

PEN: Gazza


Naci el Ali: Hanzala

Terror? How about STATE TERROR?
Israel is bombing Anne Franks in Gazza.

Tarık Günersel
[email protected]

For Pippa Bacca...

15 April 2008, Istanbul Dear President Sebastiano Grasso, Dear Members of Italian PEN, Dear Friends, We are deeply frustrated because of Pippa Bacca’s murder. Such a noble person, such a tragedy. On behalf of all our members, we express our condolences to you all. On 19 April, our Centre’s Women Writers Committee is organizing a meeting about the Turkish feminist writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Committee has decided to dedicate the meeting to beloved Pippa Bacca, who has become a sister to us. Fraternally,

Macedonian PEN Centre of Letter

Dear colleagues and friends, We would like to inform you that the Macedonian PEN and the public in the Republic of Macedonia have been disturbed recently by the latest attempts for change of the constitutional name of our country. Some of the new proposals are direct attack of the national identity and harsh attempt for annulment of the lingual and cultural identity of the Macedonian people. The point of the negotiations and the latest proposal of the mediator in the Macedonian – Greek conflict about the name Mr. Matthew Nimetz with


When I was young, in that earlier period of  my life, which now seems
so far away, I read a short story: "On Tuesday" (Bu Salı). The
writer was a young man who had spent the most exciting years of his youth
during the war.
"There is only one Tuesday in every week."
Fifty in every year.
And, many, during war-time."
Wolfang Borchert  died in 1947 when he was only twenty six. He had written
extraordinary short stories and had tried to protect them from the war.

"In the evening, Ulla was writing the following sentence in capital letters:


She wrote this sentence ten times.  In capital letters. And she wrote the
word 'war' as she would have written 'sugar'.'
 Kamuran Şipal, an unknown master, translated "Bu Salı" (On Tuesday) into
our own  language. It is a very good translation, as if  written
originally in Turkish. It is obvious that all  succesful short story
writers in every region of the world, are in fact sisters and brothers.
War, the worst and greatest chronic disease on earth,  will never succeed
in putting an end to this sisterhood and brotherhood.

Borchert, who never lost his trust in the superiority of human dignity,
while he was in prison during the war, is still protesting,
against this greatest,  most chronic disease that exists on the earth,
even today, now,at this very moment.

May all those who write about peace and all those who read the works of
those who write about peace have a happy World Short Story Day.

(Translated into English by Aysu ERDEN with Beverly BARBEY)

TURKEY: Monthly "301" Action – 19 January 2008


Action Marking the First Anniversary of the Murder of Hrant Dink "For Hrant, For Justice"

9 January 2007

Saturday 19 January marks the first anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink in Istanbul. International PEN is supporting the "Hrant Için, Adalet Için" (For Hrant, For Justice) campaign being run by a consortium of Turkish organisations who are staging events in Istanbul in commemoration of Hrant Dink. Posters and banners have been produced for the events with slogans including "For Hrant, For Justice" and "What Happened on 19 January?". A website has been launched in Turkish and English which gives information on the events being staged in Turkey and abroad. For details of the commemorations and to download posters, go to the website:

"The Day of World Story" from PEN Center of Makedonia


Skopje, 12.12.2007

To the Executive Board of PEN International – London

Dear colleagues,

The Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee of PEN International and its office in Skopje, Macedonia, wants to support the initiative of the Turkish PEN Centre - The Short Story Day (February, 14) to be included in the Calendar of Culture of UNESCO in the near future.

We are supporting this initiative of the Turkish PEN, again in the last few years, because of its purpose:

IRAN: Two journalists and women’s rights defenders, Maryam Hosseinkhah (f) and Jelveh Javaheri (f) detained for their...


The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN protests the detention of journalists and women’s rights defenders Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelveh Javaheri on 18 November 2007 and 1 December 2007 respectively for their articles posted online. PEN seeks guarantees of their well-being, and urges that whilst detained they are granted access to their lawyers, family and any necessary medical care. International PEN considers Maryam Hosseinkhah and Jelveh Javaheri to be detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

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