Press and Pressures

by Tarık Günersel    /  May 9, 2014  / No comments

Detecting the growing despotism of PM Erdoğan’s rule, Washington-based Freedom House acknowledges that the press in Turkey is “unfree.”

Press Protest Turkey May 3

Turkish journalists stage a protest against the jailing of their colleagues on the World Press Freedom Day. Photo courtesy of Tarik Günersel.

Female Journalist Spends Eight Years in Prison

Füsun Erdoğan has been in prison for eight years. Though several intellectuals have recently been released, especially thanks to international democratic solidarity, her release has still been denied. She is one of 43 imprisoned journalists in Turkey, most of whom are accused of being related to various illegal organizations.

  1. Wor(l)ds in Danger, a<br />
column by Tarik Günersel
  2. Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
  3. 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?
  4. Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
  5. 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.
  6. Tarik Günersel
  7. 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.

Ercan Ipekçi, spokesperson of the Platform for Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists, clearly states that The Ministry of Justice has been misinforming the national and international public by saying that the journalists are terrorists.

Columnist Sentenced to One Year Two Months

Bekir Coşkun is a leading secular-democrat columnist who, after contributing to Cumhuriyet (Republic) newspaper for many years, now writes for Sözcü, one of the country’s best-selling newspapers. He has been sentenced to one year and two months in prison for “offending the AKP parliamentarians.” But, as has become a “custom,” he will remain outside jail unless he’s charged with the same crime again within five years.

UNESCO Award to Journalist Ahmet Şık

Ahmet Şık had criticized the Fethullah Gülen movement by pointing to the organization’s involvement in the Turkish police force. His book on the same subject, The Imam’s Army, was confiscated before it was published. Like his colleague and friend Nedim Şener, he spent a year in prison. His dedication to journalism has recently been awarded by UNESCO.

Both journalists have been praised with international awards.

Main Opposition Leader “Invited” by the DA!

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition party CHP (Republican People’s Party), has recently been “invited,” or summoned, by the DA “by mistake.” Who is behind it? Allegedly PM Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, who was tape-recorded saying to his father: “Almost no money is left at home, Dad, merely $600,000.”

May 1st Oppression

Probably due to previous Gezi Park protests, PM Erdoğan banned the May 1st celebration in Taksim Square this year. The majority of the opposition refused to obey. CHP parliamentarian Şafak Pavey, who had lost one leg and one arm in a tragic accident, was present as tear gas was used relentlessly by the police. Mustafa Köz, President of the Writers’ Syndicate of Turkey, was also attacked and harmed.

Youtube Blocked Again

May 4th: Youtube is again inaccessible in Turkey because some “illegitimate videos are still available”!

Is PM Erdoğan’s Rule Still Legitimate?

Under his rule, Turkey has been taken backwards in terms of freedom of speech and press, in terms of women’s rights, and human rights in general. Anti-secularist and anti-republican propaganda is growing. The commitment to transform the regime into a despotic theocracy by 2023, the centenary of the Republic of Turkey, is in action. Thus, it would be fair to say that half of the people no longer consider the PM Erdoğan’s AK Party rule legitimate.

Things will get worse if Erdoğan becomes President.

Can he retire when a long list of accusations are at his doorstep? Including his alleged illegal support of terror in Syria?

About the Author

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.

View all articles by Tarık Günersel

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