PEN-Turkey condemns Israeli attack on the humanitarian-aid ships

As the PEN Centre of Turkey, we strongly condemn the Israeli government's illegal and inhuman attack on the humanitarian-aid ships that were sailing in international waters on their way to Gaza, and we invite Israeli writers to condemn this attack. It is a duty of each human being to respect and remember the murdered volunteers.
PEN Centre of Turkey


Since the early paleolithic ages, since the period when pictures were drawn on the walls of the Altemira caves in Spain, human beings have always conveyed their stories to the next generations. The way the enchanting discourses were derived from nature and the way they were used during the shamanistic rituals, long before the monotheistic religions, the narratives of Homeros of Smyrna, the epic of Gilgamesh, the itineraries of the famous Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi and all the other tales, legends and myths have joined hands and have travelled together throughout the centuries.

Man is telling his own stories since the time when he first started to convert his voice into statement. Since then, all the sounds have found their appropriate places on the tablets, on the papyri and finally on the papers and pages. All these efforts have constituted a whole: the totality of all the ways how man has come face to face with his own self. Man’s questioning his own existance in naïveté has always been found throughout history, even long before writing has been invented.

Human beings try to reach their own utopias persistently. When we study the losses of mankind in its ancient history, we clearly see that this persistency has roots in the distant past of humanity. We have put an end to the twentieth century which was full of injustice and bloodbath. We have welcomed the twenty first century with the hope that it would heal the destructive effects of the twentieth century. There were feasts and cheer in honour of this new century…Our efforts to amuse ourselves were full of hope but ad interim at the same time. Even if this seemed to be a situation that should be tolerated, our hopeful expectations backfired within a short time. This new century bears all the negativity of the previous century.

At this stage short stories were written. They are still being written. The short story draws strength from its own utopia, not from belief. This is because, utopia is by no means an abstract concept. If societies themselves try to attain other ways of living in which they will be able to battle for the values of the mankind and if they are capable of criticising the control of power, then they will never lose their own energy to renew the order in a society.

Utopia enlightens our minds as a phenomenon that is open to debate and criticism. The short story genre, which extends from an ancient tradition to our modern age, will strengthen and increase the rapidity of the throbbing of its heart. To repeat once again, utopia, in my opinion, is not only an abstract concept.

We take great pleasure in celebrating the 14 February-World Short Story Day.


(Translated into English by Aysu Erden)

A Message From Leland Bardwell World Short Story Day 2010

The Irish are a strange race. We are an amalgam of Celts, in a sense like people standing on the edge of a cliff but holding tight nevertheless. There is a general conclusion that all Celts are the same - i.e. have something in common, but in fact that is wrong. Actually we're very proud of our individuality; we don't want to be "of the one tribe."

We are much less reserved than the Scots, the Welsh or the French. But we seem to have all ended up living on the edge of society as though we have invited the stronger, more practical and therefore more powerful races to brush us away. I think possibly that all these circumstances have made us - through necessity - quick thinkers. And perhaps this is re-produced in our various art forms. In other words, we are always in a hurry, which of course brings me to the gist of my summing up, our need to express ourselves - an omnipresent human need - through the quicker kind of art form, in this case "the short story".

We must encapsulate our feelings which we want to communicate as quickly as possible. We are a bit like children at a circus, we are always pushing our way to the front; we are always in a crowd who - by and large - wants to get rid of us.

And we Irish, who are basically islanders, are probably the most determined to get "our message over" as quickly as possible. And what better way than through the medium of the short story. Consequently we have produced some of the most phenomenal short-story writers over the last two hundred years. Writers who tell it well and tell it fast.

So many names spring to mind: George Moore, James Joyce, Kate O Brien, Mary Lavin, Frank O Connor, Sean O Faolain, William Trevor, John McGahern. And too many more to mention. And I am very honoured to be given a ringside seat at the circus amongst this company.


February 2010.


Iran; the ancient land of poetry, is now in blood. There is blood on its avenues and streets. In hopes of seeing peace taking the place of foul play,  we invite all the people in the world and in our country  to try their best, as soon as possible, to support the efforts of  bringing
violence to a close. We hope that all kinds of artifices used by the authorities who prefer provoking authoritative oppression, in stead of
supporting democracy, will come to an end.

İnci Aral
Turkish PEN Center


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
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