Tarık Günersel rounds up the latest news in freedom of expression from Turkey.
The Ankara massacre plot was known
Three Turkish journalists, Kemal Göktaş of Cumhuriyet Daily and Cem Gurbetoğlu and Tamer Arda Erşin of Evrensel Daily, published a vital piece of news about the Ankara Train Station massacre by ISIS in October 2015. According to an official report by the authorities in charge of the investigation, the security forces knew about the attacks beforehand, but they hardly did anything to prevent the tragedy.
- Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
- Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
- Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
- Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
- Poet, playwright, actor, and director Tarık Günersel worked at Istanbul City Theater as a dramaturg.
- His works include Breaths of Infinity (a mosaic of poems) and My 300th Birthday Speech (short stories). His Becoming consists of his aphorisms and various ideas from world wisdom.
- His plays include Billennium, Nero and Agrippina, Sociology of Shit, Threat and Virtually Yours. He has written four libretti for the composer Selman Ada: Ali Baba & 40, Blue Dot, Forbidden Love, and Another Planet. His translations into Turkish include works by Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Savyon Liebrecht. His presentation of World Poetry Day to PEN International in 1997 led to its adoption by UNESCO. As the former president of PEN Turkey Center he was elected to PEN International Board in Tokyo from 2010 to 2012. In 2013 he initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the collaboration of several intellectuals from around the planet.
One would expect the judiciary mechanism to start inquiring into the report. Well, they are now investigating the journalists! Why? Because the journalists published the names of the security officers who were mentioned in the report of the official inspectors.
“As the state of Turkey, we allowed the assassination plot to be carried out,” confessed the police officer Muhittin Zenit in a court hearing in April, more than nine years after the murder of Hrant Dink, Editor-in Chief of the bilingual Armenian weekly published in Istanbul. In addition to the plot behind it, the judicial procedure has also been scandalous and slow. Let us keep demanding justice, though nothing could bring Dink back. Future assassinations could be prevented.
Refugees and threats
Erdoğan’s threats seem to work: fearful of a wave of refugees into Germany, Merkel gave in. Thus the German comedian Jan Böhmermann has taken an extensive break from his TV show after reciting a poem criticizing Erdogan on his March 31 show. Irritated, Germany decided to change their law that might lead to a similar court case: “Humiliating the president, king, etc. of a friendly country.”
As a reaction, British author and journalist Douglas Murray announced the start of an “offensive poetry competition” about President Erdoğan.
Parliament recently criticized the still Erdoğan-led AK Party Government for their failures in terms of human rights, democracy, respecting secular way of life, and the academics put in prison for their peace declaration. “The PKK should say farewell to arms,” adds the report.
The Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ, responded in Erdoğan’s usual style: “For us, there is no such report; we simply do not accept it.”
Two journalists imprisoned
Two journalists who published some of cartoons of Charlie Hebdo in Cumhuriyet, Mr. Hikmet Çetinkaya and Ms. Ceyda Karan, have been sentenced to two years imprisonment!
“Erdo-fascism”–as I need to name it–is on the rise.