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2011 “Freedom of Thought and Expression Awards” and Yearly Report of Turkish Publishers Association

As the Turkish Publishers Association, we have been presenting a “Freedom of Thought and Expression Award” for the past fifteen years to express our solidarity with writers and publishers in their just struggle, to increase awareness in the public opinion of this struggle, and to voice our demand for the enactment of necessary changes and regulations in the laws curtailing the freedoms of thought and expression.

The Opening Speech by Metin Celal, Chair of TPA, At the 2011 “Freedom of Thought and Expression Awards” Ceremony
As the Turkish Publishers Association, we have been presenting a “Freedom of Thought and Expression Award” for the past fifteen years to express our solidarity with writers and publishers in their just struggle, to increase awareness in the public opinion of this struggle, and to voice our demand for the enactment of necessary changes and regulations in the laws curtailing the freedoms of thought and expression.
Each year, we wish that Turkey would at last become a country where writing and creating, the right of publishers to disseminate these writings and creations, the public’s right to get information and to read is no longer limited so that such awards are not needed to be given. Although our hopes are raised at times, unfortunately, the conditions do not improve, and plenty of incidents necessitate us to give this award yet again.
Since the release of our 2010 Report on Freedom to Publish last May, there have been burning issues in the field of freedom of thought and expression in Turkey.
World-famous film director Emir Kostunica, who had been invited to serve as a jury member at the Antalya Film Festival, was protested for “not taking a stand against Serbia’s crimes against Muslims in Bosnia.” He was asked to not come to Turkey. Having come to Antalya despite the reaction, Kostunica, who said that “I have never, ever supported a crime against humanity,” was nonetheless forced to return home. Kostunica had actually been to Bursa a month and a half before this incident in October, had given a concert and had faced no protests.
A similar incident happened regarding the Nobel laureate writer Naipaul. Naipaul’s invitation to the European Writers’ Parliament that convened in Istanbul on 25-27 November was protested by a few writers who said that “he insulted Islam and Muslims.” Naipaul did not come to Istanbul, saying that “the meeting has been polarized.” Again, Naipaul had come to Istanbul in July and had not encountered any protests.
Based on these examples, I do not know whether it is possible to say that things have begun to change for the worse in our country since last fall. Nonetheless, we have been witnessing an increase in the efforts at curtailing the freedoms of thought and expression. In January 2011, groups raided and threatened bookstores in Istanbul for selling the 2011 year-planner themed “Racism, Discrimination and Hate Crimes” published by Métis Publishing.
Again in January, Prime Minister Erdoğan called Mehmet Aksoy’s Monument to Humanity at Kars a “monstrosity” and asked for its demolishment. The municipality took up the prime minister’s order as its duty and the demolishment of the monument continues despite all the legal interventions to the contrary.
In early March, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, the recipient of our Freedom of Thought award last year, were arrested in relation to the Ergenekon investigation. Along with them, many writers and journalists, including Soner Yalçın, Doğan Yurdakul and Yalçın Küçük were also taken into custody. At the end of the same month, the police searched for the copies of Ahmet Şık’s unpublished book “The army of the Imam” at İthaki Publishing House and at many other publishers. They destroyed the copy they found at the computers of İthaki Publishing. Speaking at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Prime Minister Erdoğan likened Şık’s book to a bomb.
Also in late March, Orhan Pamuk was sentenced to paying 6 thousand TL indemnity to 6 people, regarding his statement “we have killed 30 thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians” spoken to a Swiss newspaper, in a case where the local court ruled for a conviction after its two previous decisions for acquittal were overturned by the High Court of Appeals. With this decision, the High Court opened the way for all Turkish citizens to similarly sue Orhan Pamuk for indemnity. Orhan Pamuk was only saved from paying indemnity to millions of people thanks to a statute of limitations.
Meanwhile, unsatisfied with the blocking of thousands of internet sites, the Information & Communication Technologies Authority decided to introduce a filter system in order to prevent free access to the internet and published a new regulation to that end. The other regulatory agency, High Council of Telecommunications (TİB) sent a list of blacklisted words to hosting firms, saying that no domain names including these 132 everyday words should be issued. According to a news report from a day ago, TİB again ordered the internet cafes to ban access to over a million sites without providing any legal or administrative basis for its decision.
In April, a case was opened against the book “The Soft Machine” by the world-famous American writer William S. Burroughs, whose works had been published in Turkish numerous times before. The Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications prepared a ground-breaking report when it evaluated the literary merit of the book and deemed it not worthy of being called a “work of literature.” Yesterday, the board issued another similar report, this time with regard to another world famous American writer, Palahniuk’s novel, “Snuff.” Palahniuk will also be tried with the charge of obscenity as he is not considered as having written a literary work. As the present penal code does not allow literary works to be charged with obscenity, these reports of the board opens the road for courts to try writers, translators and publishers with the relevant article on obscenity.
We consider these and other developments included in the 2011 Freedom of Publishing report which will be presented by Ragıp Zarakolu, the Chair of the Freedom of Publishing committee, as extremely dangerous initiatives restricting the freedoms of thought and publishing.
2011 will be remembered as a very dark year in terms of the restrictions imposed on the freedoms of thought and expression.
We believe that a real democracy is a regime where opposing viewpoints are expressed freely and where people tolerate this expression with tolerance even when they do not approve of them. Once again, we call upon the government, the judges, the prosecutors and the security forces to abide by the guarantees of freedom of thought secured by international treaties and the constitution.
Metin Celâl
The President of Turkish Publishers Association

“Freedom of Thought and Expression Awards” 2011
As the Turkish Publishers Association, we favour the removal of all kinds of restrictions imposed on the freedom of our writers to write and to create, that of our publishers to disseminate and that of our people to get information and to read. The general expectation and demand of the society is also for the removal of restrictions against the freedom of expression in journalism/publication and for necessary democratic changes to be made in the laws.
Turkish Publishers Association has been presenting a “Freedom of Thought and Expression Award” every year, in order to express its solidarity with the writers and publishers in their just struggle, to increase awareness of this struggle in public opinion, and to emphasize the demand for the enactment of necessary changes and regulations in laws curtailing the freedoms of thought and expression.
This year’s Freedom of Thought and Expression Awards are given to Ahmet Şık, in the name of all the writers who are convicted or on trial for their writings and books, to Bedri Adanır, owner of Aram Publishing, as a representative of all the publishers whose books are confiscated and put on trial, and to Birgül Kitapçı, owner of a book store in İzmir for 55 years, for all the bookstores who insist on continuing with their profession under hard economic and political conditions.
We also thank the Freedom to Journalists Platform, comprising many associations of our trade which actively contribute to the struggle for freedom of thought and expression, and present them a plaque of gratitude.
“The Freedom of Thought and Expression Award” was presented for the first time in 1995 to publisher Ayşe Zarakolu and writer Haluk Gerger. In 1996, writer Yaşar Kemal and his publisher Erdal Öz; in 1998, Mahir Günşıray in the name of the 185 artists, writers and intellectuals who have given their signatures as the publishers of the book “Freedom to Thought,” and in 1999, publisher Muzaffer İlhan Erdost, journalist-writer Ragıp Duran, and Mahmut Önal, a bookstore owner of 50 years in Merzifon had received the prize. In 2000, publisher Süleyman Ege, journalist-writer Nadire Mater and Salih Zeki Uluarslan, a bookstore owner of 50 years in Çanakkale; in 2001 publisher Ahmet Önal, writer Mehmed Uzun and Lütfü Alpant, a bookstore owner of 60 years in Zonguldak; in 2002, publisher Ömer Laçiner, poet-writer Enis Batur and Selçuk Togo, a bookstore owner of 60 years in Tarsus; in 2003, publisher Özcan Sapan, writer Fikret Başkaya and an Ayvalık bookstore owner Ahmet Yorulmaz; in 2004, publisher Ömer Faruk, writer Meltem Arıkan and the long time bookstore owner of Ankara Ahmet Tevfik Küflü; in 2005, publisher Leven Erseven, writer Herkül Millas and a bookstore owner of 23 years in Balıkesir, İsmail Dönmez; in 2006, the publisher Sırrı Öztürk, writers Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu, Prof. Baskın Oran, and Şakir Tunalı, a bookstore owner of 33 years in Tekirdağ; in 2007, publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, writer Elif Şafak, and Esen Aliş, a bookstore owner of 32 years in Bartın; in 2008, publisher Songül Özkan, writer Perihan Mağden and a bookstore owner of 27 years in Bursa, Vural Okur; in 2009, publisher İrfan Sancı, writer Nedim Gürsel, and Naci İpek, a bookstore owner of 54 years in Şanlıurfa; and in 2010, publisher Recep Sahip Tatar, writer Nedim Şener and Sudullah Gökgiyas, who has been a book store owner of 34 years in Kayseri, have been recipients of this award.
With the wish that in 2012, no such award needs to be given in Turkey…
Turkish Publishers Association
AHMET ŞIK / Writer-Journalist
He was born in Adana in 1970. He graduated from the Istanbul University, Communications Faculty, Department of Journalism. Between 1991 and 2005, he worked as a reporter for Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Evrensel, Yeni Yüzyıl and Radikal newspapers and the periodical Nokta, and as a photo-reporter with Reuters.
He has written on human rights, journalism and journalistic ethics in numerous weekly and monthly periodicals and daily newspapers, as well as in the publications of civil society organisations. He has taught at Bilgi University.
Şık has been the recipient of numerous awards in his career, including Bülent Dikmener news story Award 81994), Turkish Journalists’ Society
photography Award (1995), Metin Göktepe Journalism Award (2001-2002-2007), Progressive Journalists Association news story Award (2002-2003-2005).
In April 2010, he published a two-volume book titled “Who’s Who in Ergenekon? Kırk Katır, Kırk Satır – Counter-guerrilla and the Guide to Understanding Ergenekon,” together with journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, a reporter for daily Radikal. He was charged with “violating the secrecy of the investigation” with the prospect of 4,5 years imprisonment for this book, but was later acquitted.
Lastly, Ahmet Şık was preparing a book on the infiltration of the security forces by the religious brotherhood, which was banned before being printed. The copies of the book titled “The Army of the Imam”, were confiscated with a raid on the Ithaki Publishing. The copies in the hands of his lawyer and friends were also confiscated; he was taken into custody in relation to the Ergenekon investigation and arrested. Currently, he is at the Silivri Prison.
BEDRİ ADANIR / Publisher
He was born in Diyarbakır, in 1983. In 2005, he enrolled at the Dicle University, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Mathematics. Having worked in newspaper distribution since the age of 12, Adanır worked as a reporter in the various bureaus of the periodical Özgür Halk (Free People).
In 2008, he took over Aram Publishing with a group of friends and began working as the editor-in-chief of the publishing house.
Adanır was taken into custody and arrested on January 5, 2010 as he was entering Turkey from Northern Iraq via the Habur gate at the Silopi district of the province of Şırnak.
He is charged with “praising a criminal” and “doing propaganda for the organisation” in various writings in the Kurdish Hawar newspaper and in three books from Aram Publishing, including the book “On the Culture-Arts Revolution,” comprising Abdullah Öcalan’s defence at the European Court of Human Rights, which has not been published as it has not been granted a revenue stamp by the Ministry of Culture, with the prospect of up to 50 years imprisonment.
Adanır’s trials are ongoing at Diyarbakır high criminal courts.
Publisher Adanır is currently being held at Diyarbakır type-D Prison. He has 4 years and 5 months of prison sentence already approved in relation to other press cases.
BİRGÜL KİTAPÇI / Bookstore owner
She was born in 1938 in İzmir. She has been co-managing İzmir Yavuz Bookstore, where she began working alongside her father Fahrettin Bey in 1956, with his brother Ali Ragıp Kitapçı since 1966.
Yavuz Bookstore Inc. was founded in 1913 by Fahrettin Bey and his brother Hüsnü Bey (a member of the first Turkish National Assembly), immigrants to İzmir from Thessaloniki. Yavuz Bookstore was among the establishments representing İzmir at the 1st İzmir Economic Congress, convened on the 10th anniversary of its founding. The family was granted the surname KİTAPÇI (bookseller) by Atatürk himself for continuing the profession.
Having begun selling books at 18, Birgül Kitapçı entered university at age 30 in 1968, where she studied Hungarology at the Ankara Language, History-Geography Faculty.
Saying that she enjoys social activities and helping people, Birgül Kitapçı worked with Turkish Women’s Association, Struggle Against Cancer Association and Barboros Children’s Village Foundation. She has been continuing her profession for 55 years under hard economic and social conditions, as a 33 years member of the İzmir-Göztepe Soroptimist Club (professional and business women’s association)
“This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought”
Euripides (485-406 BC)
Turkish Publishers Association gave its first award in 1995. The Committee on Freedom to Publish issued its first report also in 1995 and the tradition continues to-this-day. Until 1983, publishers were not held legally accountable for the books they published, thanks to the legal amendment made by the Ecevit government in 1978. It was due to this amendment that during the coup era, the publishers could not be put on trial at the martial law courts for the books they published, provided that the writers were known persons.
The list of authors who were tried by the martial law courts for their books, translations and even caricatures included names such as Mete Tunçay, Atilla Tokatlı, A. Kadir, Müjdat Gezen, Savaş Dinçer, Asım Bezirci, Atilla Tokatlı, Yaşar Miraç, Pınar Kür, Adalet Ağaoğlu, Demirtaş Ceyhun, Emil Galip Sandalcı.
On the other hand, the so-called civil courts of the coup era were hardly more lenient, as civil courts of first instance issued numerous preliminary injunctions for the confiscation of hundreds of books in the period after 12 September, albeit statutes of time limitations.
It was thus not surprising that the new draft Press Law prepared in 1983 was holding even the printing presses responsible for the books they printed. The publishers opposed this draft by a joint protest, declaring that no book will ever get published in Turkey if the printing presses are granted such a mission of censure. The government retreated and that provision was rescinded. The mission of auto-censure then befell on the shoulders of publishers. After 1980, publishers did not dare to publish books on socialism, and neither were they even thinking of publishing books on the Kurdish issue or the Armenian events. Seven years had to pass after the coup for Nazım Hikmet’s oeuvre to be reprinted by Adam Publishing.
Nonetheless, the publishers had again begun to be prosecuted for the books they published with the Press Law passed by the coup government under Bülent Ulusu on its way out.
Istanbul 14th high criminal court has signed for another “first” in 2011 when it considered the printer of a book “like its author” and convicted the owner of Berdan Printing House, Sadık Daşdöğen to 6 months imprisonment in absentia.
Publisher Abdürrezzak Güngör was put on trial for the two-volume “Abdullah Öcalan in Memories – At the table of the Sun” by Gülseren Aksu published by Çetin Publishing. The prosecutor had indicated to the printer, who had no legal liability, that the prosecutor’s case would be dropped if he paid 489 TL and that no case would be opened against him, so the printer paid the said amount. Nonetheless, inexplicably, the printer was sentenced to prison, but as he was not informed about his conviction, he could not appeal to the High Court of Appeals. His request for the postponement of the decision for six months was accepted. Now, all hope lies with the Ministry of Justice to decide for a retrial. In 1994, Ministry of Justice did not “find suitable” the request for a retrial of a conviction even though the publisher had no reliability under the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications is determined to Work
As if the existing restrictions were not sufficient, the Özal Government established a Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications, which then began to work against works of literature. In 1985, Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Capricorn” published by Can Publishing was confiscated with the charge of pornography and a case was opened. (There was a precedent from 1939 when Pierre Louys’s famous novel Aphrodite was translated to Turkish from French by Avni İnsel and charged for being a pornographic publication, but the case was later dismissed.)
In 1985, publishers displayed a joint solidarity for the first time and republished Miller’s book and faced trial together.
26 years after this trial, it is saddening to see that the problem still persists. İrfan Sancı, the editor of Sel Publishing, the recipient of our 2009 award and the 2010 IPA award, found himself in front of the court again in 2011 for a literary work he published, before the signature on his acquittal from 3 similar cases had not yet dried.
In January, Süha Sertabiboğlu, translator of “The Soft Machine” by William Burroughs, one of the most important authors of modern American literature, published by Sel Publishing and İrfan Sancı, the Editor-in-Chief of the Sel Publishing, were charged with “offending the feelings of shame of the people” and for violating article 226 of the Turkish Criminal Law. In his reply to the prosecutor, İrfan Sancı pointed to the absurdity of the situation:
“Istanbul Republican Head Prosecutor’s Office had sent William S. Burroughs’ The Soft Machine to the Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications for inspection and the board prepared a report. It is well-nigh impossible to understand the insistence to send books prepared and published for adults to “children’s” boards, since from such a perspective, tens of reports can be written about media outlets such as TVs, news reports or about thousands of books.”
In his defence, Sancı underlined important points:
“Does any institution of the state have such a duty of prescribing the boundaries of the general morality of the society, or saying what is moral and not moral, and furthermore, to decide that society’s notions of shame and impropriety have been violated without it ever knowing about it? What kind of an “engineership” is undertaken by attributing social responsibility to such a logic? Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications not only displays its ignorance, but it becomes outright ridiculous when it makes the following observations regarding a literary text: ‘Societies have to protect their existence. To that end, social organs have to themselves follow social norms, and furthermore, they are obliged with the duty and responsibility to direct, warn and remind people about this matter. This duty and responsibility is of a social nature. It is impossible for the writings published in this book to comply with this social duty and responsibility. It is observed that the book’s main interest is toward sexuality, that it does not comply with the moral structure of this society and that it offends the people’s sense of shame and impropriety.’”
Turkish Publishers Association worked closely with the government to rectify this absurdity, and succeeded in getting important amendments to the law passed. However, the Board to Protect Children from Harmful Publications insists on its obsessive behaviour. As had been stated at the 5th National Publishing Congress, there seems to be no other solution other than the abrogation of this board.
In 1990, Özal government had taken an important step and repealed the Article 142 of the Turkish penal code, an important impediment in the way of freedom of thought that had put tens of renowned names of Turkish literature and hundreds of translators in front of courts and even in prison. The great poet Can Yücel had faced courts numerous times for his poems or articles but he was sent to prison for a translation of his. At the same time, another law prohibiting the Kurdish language was also repealed. But the habit to restricting thought and freedom of information remained. In lieu of these restrictions, the infamous articles 6, 7 and 8, curtailing thought and its expression as well as the freedom of press were inserted in the Anti-terrorism Law. Subsequently, the state security courts turned into Press Courts and were overwhelmed with cases.
The anti-terrorism law did not accord any responsibility to book publishers. Thus Ünsal Öztürk, the editor of Yurt Publishing, was acquitted of the few cases brought before the State Security Court. However, the 9th circuit of the High Court of Appeals created an unlawful precedent when it regarded book publishers as akin to the editors-in-chief of periodicals and compelled the courts to give convictions. This was an outright judicial law-making.
The same circuit also repeatedly overturned acquittals regarding writers and publishers and demanded convictions.
In 1995, a number of organisations such as Turkish Journalists Association, Turkish Journalists’ Syndicate, PEN came together under the leadership of Press Council and proposed the amendment of article 8. Although some improvements were achieved, the amendment also brought about the legal liability of publishers in the text of the anti-terrorism law. The High Court of Appeals should have at least overturned the old conviction decisions regarding publishers but even this was not done.
The latest improvements state that the publisher has no ”legal” accountability, but contradictory decisions continue to be given nonetheless.
It is understood that some prosecutors and courts do not adhere to the Press law that prohibits cases to be opened regarding published books. Author N. Mehmet Güler was sentenced to 1,5 years in prison for his novel “Decisions Harder Than Death” in 2010. Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who was also being tried in the same case, was acquitted since “the publishers were not accountable.” The previous prosecutor had asked for acquittal for the author, while the next one asked for a conviction. In 2011, the Court convicted both the author and the publisher for the author’s “The KCK Case,” when the prosecutor had asked for acquittals for both.
The latest amendment to the anti-terrorism law – which had been amended numerous times since its promulgation in 1991– by the Law 4928, in compliance with the ECHR decisions as part of the 6th Reform Package on 19.7.2003, removed its article 8, restricting the freedom of expression. However, the new anti-terrorism law of 2006 proved even more draconian than the one before.
The journalists’, writers’ and publishers’ associations had called for a reconsideration of articles detrimental to freedom of thought and freedom of press and warned of the possible consequences, but their warnings fell on deaf ears.
And at the point where we are presently, all the issues have turned into a tiresome gangrene. Once again, it is possible to talk of sentences of over-hundred years long regarding the press as had been the case in the 1980s. People’s thoughts, identities, the books or the magazines that they read can be considered as elements that give the “impression” of their “guilt.”
In conclusion, “when the new penal provisions made in 2004 as part of the EU harmonisation process are analysed in their entirety, it is possible to see that a hybrid system was created that retains the oppressive state policies of the old, together with the pro-freedom notions of the new. This hybrid system evolved in a away where the oppressive state policies regained the upper hand with the 2005 amendments to the Turkish penal code and code of criminal procedure (CMUK), and the 2006 changes in the anti-terrorism law. The 2010 constitutional referendum also did not bring about any changes in this respect, and it has become clear that without a comprehensive change in mentality, expressions of thoughts will not cease to be regarded criminal.
The Turkish Publishers Association Committee on Freedom to Publish has expressed repeatedly in its annual reports since 1995 that the judiciary has a great responsibility in the protection of freedom of thought and expression. It presents its reports to the judges during trials. However, the judiciary prefers to prioritize its reflex to defend the state and faith, over internalizing international conventions or case-law, and thus displays an extremely conservative and even regressive legal stance. The “rights” of the state always supersede those of its citizens. While a singular mentality is imposed, thinking “differently” is accepted as an inclination toward criminality. The latest constitutional changes did not overcome these shortcomings of the judiciary, but rather, made their display even easier. The wide leeway granted should have led to a more positive and liberal approach, but instead led to the approval of even more regressive, inexplicable decisions. For that reason, for example in Article 301, the government re-established the Ministry of Justice permission for prosecution.
The year 2011 witnessed the most blatant violations of the freedoms of expression, writing, reading, access to information and publishing, justified on the basis of “countering terrorism.” The draft versions of Ahmed Şık’s “The Army of the Imam” were confiscated not only with a raid on İthaki Publishing, but even via sequestering of the copies in the hands of his lawyer and his friends. Such an incident when a book was confiscated even before actually becoming a book had a precedent in 1933, when all the copies of Kazım Karabekir’s “Our Independence War” were confiscated. Its 1960 edition was also banned, and the readers had to wait till 1967 to freely access the book. The most recent publication of that book is dated 2008. A second example is that of the confiscation of “The Revolutionary Way Defence—Before and after 12 September (Simge publishing) which was confiscated before binding at the printing house in 1989. At the present stage, the books are being confiscated on computers. This incident led to a great wave of protest in public opinion, reminiscent of the nightmare societies in science fiction books like 1984 or Fahrenheit 424.
The “draft principles and procedures regarding Safe Use of the Internet” were declared as approved by the Information & Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) in February 2011 and the measure is due to take effect on August 22, 2011. They provoked a flurry of new worries and criticism, and protests from all sections of society increase day by day.
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was already critical of the Turkish law regarding crimes committed on the internet media for “being too restrictive,” but following the latest developments, Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative for Media Freedoms, said that “we are seriously concerned about media freedoms and access to information” following the new press law and the recent developments regarding the internet.
Natasha Butler , The European Commission Spokesperson on Enlargement, said that the EU has noted the protests against internet filters in Turkey and follows the matter closely. Responding to a question asked at the press conference, Spokesperson Butler said “we understand that BTK and High Council for Telecommunications (TIB) are enacting new regulations. However, filters, restrictions and bans have to be target-oriented, proportional and as an outcome of legal processes. Otherwise, this regulation would limit the right of individuals to access information they want. Shutting down internet sites based on general banned word lists could violate freedom of expression as well as people’s right to get information. We repeat our uneasiness with the Commission about blocking access to internet sites frequently and disproportionally in Turkey. Particularly, the law 5651 is restrictive of citizens’ access to information via the internet.”
Another disturbing aspect of judicial decision-making is its double-standards, whereby insults are regarded as criticism and criticism is regarded as insult depending on who the parties in question are. When Taner Akçam criticised the retired ambassador Şükrü Elekdağ by writing that a certain act of the honourable ambassador “would disparage Turkey and hence would not be considered wise,” Elekdağ filed for a libel suit. The court concurred, and Taner Akçam, the periodical Birikim that published his article, the editors of the Turkish translation of Blue Book, who published the article as an appendix to the book against which Elekdağ has waging a crusade, as well as its publisher, Muzaffer Erdoğdu, the owner of Pencere Publishing, were all convicted of insulting Elekdağ.
Meanwhile, the ex-Mayor of İzmir Burhan Özfatura’s case where he is charged with insulting Yaşar Kemal by calling him “a broken-bottomed (!) novel writer” was postponed for five years.
The General Board of the High Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of the riffraff charged with threatening Baskın Oran and İbrahim Kaboğlu with heavy insults, profanity and open violence in favour of those who did the insults and threats, in a 23 for, 20 against vote. According to the board the following words fell within the bounds of “freedom of expression” and did not constitute insults: “you poodle who waves his tail when his cup is filled with meaty bone, you smart-ass, stupid, approved traitor, who stabs behind the back the Turkish state and the oneness of our nation..”
The prime minister opens personal libel cases on the one hand and on the other hand, refers to a work of art as a “monstrosity,” prompting the judiciary to order the dismantling of the sculpture. In our reports, we had previously indicated how “insult” cases are used in a manner that is double-faced, selective, and restrictive of freedom of expression. While certain deep circles and nodes of power have “immunity,” there is a “freedom” to insult and belittle artists and writers.
One latest such example is Belma Akçura, a journalist of 25 years who currently works as an assistant ombudsman at Milliyet Newspaper. She has four published books on the deep state relations in Turkey: “Deep State Became The State,” “The Kurdish Film by the State,” “Ağca’s Deep Relations” and “The Men of the Organization.” Akçura had both civil and penal suits opened against her for quoting from the freely sold book “The Confessions of Ali Yurtaslan,” upon the complaint filed by Nevzat Bor whose name is mentioned in passing in “Deep State Became the State.” She was convicted and currently faces both pecuniary indemnity and imprisonment.
Journalist Yalçın Ergündoğan, the editor of the internet site “Sesonline,” also faces heavy pecuniary punishment for criticising those that “immune.” The total fine in three trials amounts to 30 thousand liras. Ergündoğan was sentenced multiple times for his news piece titled “His followers revolted against Haydar Baş.” Due to a complaint filed by Haydar Baş, the leader of the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), when the news piece with that title was published in daily Birgün on 26 April 2005, Ergündoğan was tried with the prospect of three years imprisonment by Beyoğlu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance and was sentenced to 105 days imprisonment. The sentence was later converted to 2 thousand 100 TL monetary fine and then suspended for 5 years. Journalist-writer Yalçın Ergündoğan was sentenced to 10 thousand liras indemnity for his ongoing third case merely days ago.
İsmail Saymaz, recipient of numerous prizes, was taken to court many times for his news pieces and books. Saymaz was charged with “exposing those who struggle against terror“ by the Erzurum Specially Charged 2nd High Criminal Court for his book “Postmodern Cihad.” Furthermore, Saymaz was taken to court with a claim of 7 thousand lira for non-pecuniary damages by the Prosecutor Osman Şanal, who said that “he was made to look like a sympathizer of postmodernism.”
Those who are on trial for their books on the intra-judicial struggle in Erzincan includes Ali Dağlar, the writer of the book “Ağa 01”, from the Hürriyet Newspaper and İlhan Taşçı, the writer of the book “Justice in Cloak,” from Cumhuriyet Newspaper.
For his single book “Hrant Dink Murder and the Intelligence Lies,” Journalist Nedim Şener faced numerous open-ended charges such as “attempt to affect the fairness of a trial,” “violating the secrecy of inter-personal communication,” “exposing as targets those who have took part in the struggle against terrorism,” “insulting”. There are numerous journalists on trial with similar charges in thousands of cases. Şener was tried earlier for his books “Benevolent Terrorist” and “An Empire of Fear: The Uzans” with the charge of insult.
A most negative development has been the inclusion of article 301 as the grounds for personal indemnity. Following the insistence of High Court of Appeals, the local court has paved the ground for anyone who considers him/herself as a Turk to open a case against Orhan Pamuk, the sole Nobel laureate Turkish writer for his “we killed thirty thousand Kurds and one million Armenians,” as well as putting anyone who uses a similar discourse under the threat of a similar predicament.
Although the Kadıköy 2nd court of first instance has acquitted journalist Ahmet Şık and journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu from the charge of “violating the secrecy of the investigation” with their jointly written book “Kırk Katır , Kırk Satır: The Guide to Understand Ergenekon,” it is imperative that such articles curtailing free journalism to be urgently repealed.
Dr. İsmail Beşikçi, who has spent twenty years in prison for his books and articles, and who has become a symbol of academic freedom, has been sentenced to 1 year 3 months in prison with the charge of “propaganda of the terror organization,” despite the prosecutor’s demand for acquittal. The court ruled that in his article titled “National right to self-determination and Kurds,” published in the periodical “Contemporary Law and Society,” Beşikçi’s use of the letter Q while spelling the word Kandil constituted an element of crime and sentenced the editor-in-chief, lawyer Zeycan Balcı, to pecuniary punishment.
Another incident where the court insisted on conviction whilst the prosecutor asked for acquittal is the case of Tahmaz /Çeşmecioğlu. Hasan Tahmaz, the speaker of the Peace Parliament, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for his interview with the PKK leader Murat Karayılan published in Birgün newspaper by İstanbul 10th Special High Criminal Court on 24 March. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper İbrahim Çeşmecioğlu also received a 16,660 TL indemnity punishment.
Following these convictions, Ahmet Önal, the editor of Peri Publishing, was sentenced to 1 year, 3 months imprisonment for his book Kurtelekolinek Di Derheqa Diroka Kurd û Kurdistanê. Ahmet Önal, a recipient of Turkish Publishers Association Prize for Publishing Freedom, has been tried in 29 book-related cases, paid 16 thousand TL, and spent four months in prison.
We should note as a positive development the release of İbrahim Çiçek, the editor-in-chief of Atılım Newspaper and its writer Ziya Ulusoy, who had been held in detention for almost five years since September 2006, at the hearing on 17 May 2011 by the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court. According to the numbers provided by press associations, the number of journalists under arrest has fallen to 57 from 59 with these releases.
As had been expressed by Öztürk Özdoğan, the Head of the Human Rights Association, “unfortunately, the truly neutral and independent judiciary that would enact the modern principles of penal law based on rule of law has still not come into existence in Turkey.” In fact, the judiciary has never been an independent third force resting on law and the fundamental human rights in Turkey. It has always been under the guardianship of the executive. This guardianship also had an ideological dimension, which is now complemented with the “faith” dimension. In fact, all the post-1980 governments are responsible for the current chaotic environment. The 2004 penal code regulations passed as a part of the EU harmonisation process have created a hybrid regime where the oppressive state policies of the old and the pro-freedom notions of the new were retained side by side. This hybrid system has evolved in a way where the oppressive state policies gained the upper hand due to the 2005 changes in the penal code and the code of criminal procedure, and the 2006 revisions of the anti-terrorism law.
In order for freedom of press and expression to be secured, the repeal of the anti-terror law is of critical importance. TPC article 220 / 6-7-8, 314/3 and 301 should also be repealed. However, rather than any such thing happening, “the draft law for changes in the TPC” will bring private life to the point of total non-protection, if approved.
However, despite these negative developments, 2011 has already been a year when the doors have opened to hope, as people of various backgrounds have come together and expressed solidarity for the freedom of expression, press and to publish.
Turkish Publishers Association,
Committee on Freedom to Publish
By Ragıp Zarakolu

(2008-June 2011) / TURKEY
Angora Hanefi Avcı Haliçte Yaşayan Simonlar / Simons Living in the Golding
Aram Abdullah Öcalan Kültür ve Sanat Devrimi /Culture and Art Revolution
Aram Abdullah Öcalan Kapitalist Uygarlık /Maskesiz Tanrılar ve Çıplak
Krallar Çağı / Capitalist Civilisation –The Age of Gods
without Masks and Naked Kings (banned)
Aram Abdullah Öcalan Özgürlük Sosyolojisi ve Uygarlık /Maskeli Tanrılar ve Örtük
Krallar Çağı / Freedom Sociology and Civilisation / The Age
of Gods in Masks and Covered Kings (banned)
Aram Selçuk Şahan Mavidir Avaşin’in Suları/ Blue are Avaşin’s
Waters (acquitted)
Aram Gülçiçek Günel Dilimiz Varlığımız-Dilimiz Kültürümüzdür / Our Language
is Our Existence – Our Language is Our Culture (acquitted)
Aram Hatip Dicle Yargılayanlar Yargılanıyor / The Judgers are Being Judged
Aram Timur Şahan İtirafçı/ Bir Jitemci Anlattı / Confessor /A Jitem Member
Speaks (convicted)
Aram Tayhan Umut Tufanda 33 Gün/ 33 Days in Storm (acquitted, then
Aram Ali Aydın Kayıpsın Diyorlar /They say you are Missing (convicted)
Aram Ayhan Kaya Mordemin Güncesi /Mordem’s Diary
Aram Qahir Bateyi Gulen Azadiya (convicted)
Aram Mordem Delibaş Kırbaşı Baskını /Kırbaşı Raid(convicted)
Aram Serdem Çiyayi İçimizde Bir Parça Ülke / A Land in Ourselves
Aram Serdem Çiyayi Yarınlara Yol Almak / Traveling to Tomorrow (convicted)
Aram Serdem Çiyayi Patika / Trail (Case dismissed)
Aram Sarya Baran Bu Yürek Dağlar Aşar / This Heart Overtakes Mountains
Aram Hüseyin Kaytan Ammar Omens (convicted)
Aram Halil Uysal Dağlarda Yaşamın Dili / The Language of Life in the
Mountains (convicted)
Aram Menaf Osman Gira-Şeran-Serhildan (convicted)
Aram Hüseyin Kaytan Dağın Mecnunu / The Mecnun of the Mountain (dismissed)
Aram Sarya Baran Kürtler Ne İstiyor / What do Kurds Want (banned)
Avesta Sheri Laizer Martyrs, Traitors and Patriots
Belge George Jerjian Truth Will Set Us Free (convicted)
Belge Dora Sakayan Memoirs of an Armenian Doctor (acquitted)
Belge Mehmet Güler Ölümden Zor Kararlar /Decisions Harder Than Death (convicted)
Belge Mehmet Güler KCK Case (convicted)
Berçem İrfan Karaca Ape Musa’nın Küçük Generalleri / Young Generals of Ape
Musa (convicted)
Boran Collection Tecrit’te Yaşayanlar Anlatıyor / Those in Confinement Tell
Cumhuriyet İlhan Taşçı Cüppeli Adalet / Justice in Cloak
Çetin Duran Kalkan Kürdistan’da Demokratik Siyasetin Rolü / The Role
Democratic Politics in Kurdistan (Banned)
Çetin Derleme Demokratik Konfederalizm / Democratic Confederalism
Çetin Gülseren Aksu Anılarla A.Öcalan / A. Öcalan in Memories (printing house
owner Sadık Daşdöğen was convicted)
Çivi Yazıları Aysu Tüksel Tarkan, Yıldız Olgusu / Tarkan, the Star Phenomenon (ECHR
convicted Turkey)
Deng Yılmaz Çamlıbel Üniter Devlet, Kafayı Yemiş Toplum / Unitary State,
Delusionary Society
Deng Yılmaz Çamlıbel Ağrı Sahipsiz Değildir /Ağrı is not forgotten (Convicted)
Destek Ali Dağlar Operasyonun Adı: Ağa 01 / The Name of the Operation: Aga
Do Aras Erdoğan Haberlerin Ağında Öcalan / Öcalan in the Web of News ,
Do Sertaç Doğan Şırnak Yanıyor 1992 /Şırnak is Burning 1992 (Convicted)
Do Medeni Ferho Sayın Başkan /Dear Leader (Convicted)
Doğan Nedim Gürsel Allahın Kızları /God’s Daughters (Acqitted)
Doz Mesut Barzani Barzani ve Özgürlük Hareketi /Barzani and the Freedom
Movement (Acquitted)
Doz Mustafa Balbal Ararat’taki Esir General /The Prisoner General at Ararat
Doz Hasan Bildirici Dönüşü Olmayan Yol / Road With No Return
Ekin Mehmet Pamak Kemalizm, Lâiklik ve Şehitlik / Kemalism, Secularism and
Martyrdom (Convicted)
Evrensel Ahmet Kahraman Kürt İsyanları / Kurdish Uprisings
Evrensel Zeynep Özge İmran, Bir İsyan Andı /İmran, an Uprising Oath
Güncel Belma Akçura Derin Devlet Oldu Devlet /Deep State Became the State
Güncel Nedim Şener Dink Cinayeti ve İstihbarat Yalanları / Dink Murder and
Intelligence Lies
Güncel Kemal Göktaş Hrant Dink Cinayeti / Medya, Yargı, Devlet /Hrant Dink
Murder /Media, Judiciary, State
Hukuk ve Toplum İsmail Beşikçi Kendi Kaderini Tayin Hakkı ve Kürtler /The Right to Self-
Determination and Kurds (Conviction)
İnkılap Osman Pamukoğlu Unutulanlar Dışında Yeni Bir Şey Yok /All same except the
İthaki E.Mavioğlu/A.Şık Kırk Katır Kırk Satır (acquitted)
İthaki Ahmet Şık İmamın Ordusu /The Army of the Imam (The copy at the
publishing house was confiscated)
Kalkedon İsmail Saymaz Postmodern Cihad
Kuzey Richard Dawkins The God Delusion (2nd case after acquitted)
Merkez Perihan Mağden Hangimiz Uğramadık Haksızlıklara / Which One of us
Was Not Wronged (acquitted)
Neden Kitap Zihni Çakır Ergenekon’un Çöküşü / The Collapse of Ergenekon
Neden Kitap Zihni Çakır Kod Adı Darbe/ Code Name Coup (convicted)
Ozan Sinan Kara Sinan’ın Kara Kitabı/ Sinan’s Black Book
Pencere Toynbee Blue Book (convicted)
Peri M. Erol Coşkun Acının Dili Kadın/The Language of Pain, Woman
Peri Hejare Şamil Diaspora Kürtleri /Diaspora Kurds (acquitted/ Overturned)
Peri Mahmut Baksi Teyre Baz / Hüseyin Baybaşin (Convicted)
Peri Hejare Şamil Öcalan’ın Moskova Günleri /Öcalan’s Moscow Days
(nol. pros)
Peri Munzur Cem Dersimde Alevilik / Alevism in Dersim (Convicted –
Peri Evin Çiçek Tutkular ve Tutsaklar/ Passions and Inprisoned (Time-
Peri Ahmet Önal Derheqa Diroka Kurd û Kurdistané De
Sol Murat Pabuç Boyalı Bank Nöbetini Terk Etmek /Abandoning the Painted
Bench Guard (Dismissed)
Sorun Osman Tiftikçi Osmanlı’dan Günümüze Ordunun Evrimi /The Evolution of
the Army from the Ottomans to this Day
Sel Ben Mila The Fairy’s Pendulum (acquitted)
Sel P.V. Letters of a Learned and Well-mannered French Bourgeois
Lady (acquitted)
Sel Appolinaire Adventures of the young Don Juan (acquitted)
Sel William S. Burroughs The Soft Machine
Su Mahir Çayan Toplu Yazılar /Collected Writings (Convicted)
Su Derleme Devrimci Türkü ve Marşlar / Revolutionary songs
Timaş Şamil Tayyar Operation (convicted)
Tohum Aytekin Yılmaz Çok Kültürlülükten Tek Kültürlülüğe Anadolu / Multicultural
to Single-cultural Anatolia (convicted)
Tohum Erdal Yeşil Kemalizm / Oturan Adam / Kemalism /Sitting Man
Tohum Mamo Bayram Koçgiri North East Dersim (convicted)
Tevn Zülfikar Tak Diyarbakır Cezaevinde İşkence / Torture in Diyarbakır
Tevn Ergün Sönmez Emperyalizm Sürecinde Kürt Özgürlük
Hareketi /Kurdish Freedom Movement in the Process of Imperialism
Tevn Kasım Çakan Astsubayken Er Olmak / An officer Turned a Soldier
Tevn Cemal Şerik Değişim ve Yenileme Üzerine /On Change and Renewal
Tevn Eyüp Demir Yasal Kürtler / Legal Kurds
Tevn Osman Özçelik Kulilken Ğeşayé (Buz Çiçekleri) /Ice Flowers
Umut Mehtap Polat Nergiz
Yediveren Nevin Berktaş Hücreler / Cells (convicted)
KAYNAK : Ragıp Zarakolu   rzarakolu@aol.com

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