Believe It or Not
Every day it seems that PM Erdoğan’s government creates new material for Ripley’s “Believe it or Not.”
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan phoned the head of Habertürk TV from his trip abroad and ordered the channel to stop broadcasting a speech by Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). Erdoğan’s orders were obeyed, but the conversation was still recorded and made public. Despite this, Erdoğan has not apologized. He believes that arrogance, flinging accusations, shouting angrily, perpetuating misinformation, and remaining unapologetic are signs of power.
- 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.
- Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.
Each day, it seems that PM Erdoğan’s AKP government creates new material for Ripley’s “Believe it or Not.”
Can you believe that a number of court cases have been opened against the Gezi Park protesters and that some youngsters have been kept in prison for months? Though the Taksim Solidarity Platform will not be taken to court, many files are ready to support accusing Gezi Park protesters of terrorism and organized crime.
Can you believe that 34 Kurdish peasants, most of whom were teenagers, were mistakenly bombed by jet pilots more than two years ago? In what is now known as the Uludere Tragedy, the peasants were thought to be terrorists. The AK Party government has made sure that nobody involved will be legally penalized. Probably feeling guilty, the pilots who had been misinformed about their targets have resigned from their positions and received psychological treatment. They now work for a private airline.
Who gave the order to bomb the “terrorists”? Why was the case closed by simply declaring that an “inevitable mistake” had been made?
Can you believe that the family of one of the peasants is now being fined under the accusation that the deceased was a smuggler? It is a well-known and universally accepted fact that poor peasants smuggle tea, coffee, and other things to make a living.
Can you believe that a journalist from Azerbaijan was expelled from Turkey simply because of a tweet the government didn’t like?
Can you believe that there are no more “Creative Writing” seminars at universities? They are now called “Writing Techniques”. Why? Because Erdoğan’s government is against using the word ‘creativity’ in human affairs. They claim that only God can be creative.
Can you believe that the attorney and police who stopped a mysterious truck heading towards Syria have been accused of counter-espionage?
Imagine that the authorities can keep a record of all the Internet sites you visit along with copies of all your correspondence. They can shut down any website without a court order and delete any message they don’t like.
The new Internet law in Turkey is even worse than that, but PM Erdoğan claims that it will bring more freedom.
Will President Abdullah Gül veto the APK government’s new despotic “Internet Law?”
I am grateful to PEN International and other concerned international organizations that are protesting against the new Internet law in Turkey.
International solidarity for democratization everywhere is vital for at least two reasons:
One is ethical. Innocent people should not suffer.
The other reason is related to legitimate self-defense:
Fascism rarely remains local; it tends to be contagious.