Latest News / Newyddion Diweddaraf
15 March 2017
JOINT ORAL STATEMENT ON THE DETERIORATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA FREEDOM IN TURKEY
UN Human Rights Council 34th Special Session
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Delivered by Sarah Clarke, PEN International
15 March 2017
PEN International, ARTICLE 19 and 66 organisations are deeply concerned by the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey following the violent and contemptible coup attempt on 15 July 2016.
Over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency. There are now at least 148 writers, journalists and media workers in prison, including Ahmet Şık,1 Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak and İnan Kızılkaya, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The Turkish authorities are abusing the state of emergency by severely restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, stifling criticism and limiting the diversity of views and opinions available in the public sphere.2
Restrictions have reached new heights in the lead up to a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms, which would significantly increase executive powers, set for 16 April 2017. The Turkish authorities’ campaign has been marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions of those who have voiced criticism of the proposed amendments. Several members of the opposition have been arrested on terror charges. Thousands of public employees, including hundreds of academics and opponents to the constitutional reforms, were dismissed in February. Outspoken “No” campaigners have been detained, adding to the overall climate of suspicion and fear. The rights to freedom of expression and information, essential to fair and free elections, are in jeopardy.
In the run-up to the referendum, the need for media pluralism is more important than ever. Voters have the right to be duly informed and to be provided with comprehensive information on all views, including dissenting voices, in sufficient time. The prevailing atmosphere should be one of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There should be no fear of reprisals.
We urge this Council, its members and observer states, to call on the Turkish authorities to:
- Guarantee equal broadcasting time for all parties and allow for the dissemination of all information to the maximum extent possible in order to ensure that voters are fully informed;
- Put an end to the climate of suspicion and fear by:
- Immediately releasing all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression;
- Ending the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations;
- Halting executive interference with independent news organisations including in relation to editorial decisions, dismissals of journalists and editors, pressure and intimidation against critical news outlets and journalists;
- Revoke the excessively broad provisions under the state of emergency, the application of which, in practice, are incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations.
Thank you Mr. President
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Association of European Journalists
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Independent Journalism – Hungary
Croatian PEN centre
Digital Rights Foundation
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of Journalists
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Global Editors Network
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
Independent Chinese PEN Center
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Media and Society
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Nigeria PEN Centre
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
PEN American Center
PEN Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina
PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
PEN Eritrea in exile
PEN Suisse Romand
Portuguese PEN Centre
Reporters Without Borders
Russian PEN Centre
San Miguel PEN
Serbian PEN Centre
Social Media Exchange – SMEX
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
Wales PEN Cymru
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA)
January 30, 2017
Photo credit: Aled Llywelyn
Wales PEN Cymru’s President, Menna Elfyn, joins world writers in solidarity with Turkey’s imprisoned writers Read here.
Mae Llywydd Wales PEN Cymru yn ymuno gyda ysgrifenwyr y byd i ddangos ein cydgefnogaeth i’r awduron yn Nhwrci sydd wedi eu carcharu Darllenwch yma.
Leading world writers join PEN in a message of solidarity to fellow writers, protesting the heavy-handed crackdown against free expression in the country.
There are now close to 150 writers and journalist in prison making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, surpassing China, Eritrea and Egypt. Nobel laureates Elfriede Jelinek, J.M Coetzee and Mario Vargas Llosa join writers Elif Shafak, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Ian Rankin, Jonathan Franzen, John Ashbery, Elena Poniatowska, Tariq Ali, Yann Martel, poet Adonis, artist Ai Weiwei, investigative journalists Lydia Cacho and Khadija Ismayilova as well as over 20 PEN Centres presidents in solidarity with Turkey’s writers.
Since the failed coup on 15 July 2016, Turkish authorities have cracked down on writers, journalists, media organisations, publishing houses, the judiciary and political opponents, resulting in a near total silencing of critical voices.
In PEN’s message of solidarity, the writers say:
‘We are writing to you to let you know that you are not alone. We are writing to tell you that we will not stand idly by in your time of need. We will not be silent while your human rights are violated. We will raise our global voice against any effort to silence yours.’
The message of solidarity was published today as PEN International’s high-level mission to assess the situation for freedom of expression in Turkey ends. The mission was led by PEN International president Jennifer Clement; Chairman of the Nobel Prize for Literature Per Wästberg, President Emeritus John Ralston Saul; Vice-President Eugene Schoulgin; Turkish writers Burhan Sönmez and Zülfü Livaneli; German writer Peter Schneider; publishers Eva Bonnier and Ronald Bluden; and PEN Centre presidents Iman Humaydun, William Nygaard, Vida Ognjenovic, and Urtzi Urrutikoetxea.
In their week-long visit, the high-level mission met with writers, journalists, human rights defenders, civils society actors, as well as Minister of Culture Nabi Avcı, party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MP’s and representatives from across Turkey’s political landscape. The delegation also visited the offices of newspapers currently facing Turkey’s increasing clampdown: Cumhuriyet Daily, BirGün Daily, Agos daily, Evrensel daily and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi daily.
PEN International has been campaigning on free expression issues in Turkey for decades and will continue to campaign for the freedom of those imprisoned solely for exercising their right to free expression.
PEN International president Jennifer Clement said: ‘Freedom of expression is protected both by Turkey’s constitution and by international law. President Erdoğan’s ongoing campaign to muzzle all dissident voices in Turkey must be met with resistance. That is why we are proud to be here today, figures from across PEN’s global community, standing in active and public solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Turkey.’
For more information contact Campaigns and Communications Manager: Sahar.firstname.lastname@example.org
Ionawr 13eg 2017
Neges i Wales PEN Cymru am sefyllfa parhaol newyddiadurwyr yn Nhwrci
Ym mis Rhagfyr 2016, yn simposiwn y Cyngor Adsefydlu Rhyngwladol ar gyfer Dioddefwyr Artaith (IRCT) ym Mexico City, anfonodd Metin Bakkalci a Sebnem Korur Fincanci o Gymdeithas Hawliau Dynol Twrci y neges ganlynol.
SKF: Hoffem ni ddechrau gan ddiolch i Wales PEN Cymru, am ofyn inni am neges ac am eu cymorth ac undod. Rydym ni wastad wedi teimlo bod Wales PEN Cymru wrth ein hochr a hoffem ni ddiolch i’n ffrindiau o Wales PEN Cymru sydd wedi mynychu ein gwrandawiadau. Mae’r sefyllfa yn Nhwrci yn arswydus; mae rhai o’n ffrindiau sy’n newyddiadurwyr wedi cael eu carcharu am amser hir. Ar hyn o bryd, mae dros 140 o newyddiadurwyr yn y carchar yn Nhwrci ac rydym ni’n gweithio at ryddhau pob newyddiadurwr sydd yn y carchar gan gynnwys Asli Erdogan a Necmiye Alpay. Mae rhaid inni gofio fod newyddiadurwyr Ozgur Gundem yn y carchar a phob tro mae cefnogwr Ozgur Gundem yn cael ei gadw’n gaeth, mae’r newyddiadurwyr hyn yn cael eu cymryd o’r carchar er mwyn i’w datganiadau cael eu cofnodi. Mae hyn yn golygu bod y newyddiadurwyr yn cael eu trin yn annynol ac yn arteithiol gan eu bod nhw’n cael eu chwilio bob tro maent yn gadael a chyrraedd y carchar. Mae Inan a Zana nawr yn wynebu gradd o artaith. Gan ystyried yr holl bethau hyn, mae undod yn bwysig iawn ac rydym ni’n gallu bod yn greadigol wrth sut yr ydym yn sefydlu a/neu gadw’r undod. Fel yr awgrymwyd gan Wales PEN Cymru, efallai mai anfon a derbyn llythyron rhwng newyddiadurwyr yn Nhwrci a Chymru a gwledydd eraill yn ffordd dda o wneud hyn.
MB: Mae hawliau dynol yn gysyniad, ac er na ellir sefydlu hierarchaethau o fewn y cysyniad hwn, mae rhaid inni fynegi bod rhyddid mynegiant yn cael effaith amlwg. Pan fo rhyddid mynegiant yn cael ei gyfaddawdu, mae popeth yn mynd yn dywyllach ac mae’r tywyllwch hwn yn galluogi pob math o falais a thrais i ymddangos. Felly yn Nhwrci, fel y dywedodd Sebnem annwyl, mae newyddiadurwyr, yn bennaf ond nid yn unig, a miloedd o bobl eraill yn y carchar ac mae nifer o sefydliadau sy’n ymwneud ag amddiffyn hawliau dynol wedi cau. Rydym ni’n ymwybodol bod Twrci wedi profi trafferthion tebyg yn ddiweddar ac rydym wedi cael profiad o ddioddef hyn ac rydym ni’n gwybod na all y sefyllfa presennol barhau. Wrth gwrs, mae hwn yn rhywbeth yr ydym ni’n dioddef ohono fel pobl Twrci, ond mae hawliau dynol yn cael eu cyfaddawdu. Mae hawliau dynol yn fyd-eang felly mae cefnogaeth a chyfraniad Wales PEN Cymru yn hynod bwysig a gwerthfawr. Mae rhaid inni hefyd atgoffa ein hunain mai nid Twrci yn unig sy’n dioddef. Mae tywyllwch ar draws y byd ond byddem ni’n goresgyn hyn, ac mae’r undod hyn yn hollbwysig.
SKF: Mae yna hefyd Wylfeydd Rhyddid, dechreuodd yr un cyntaf amser maeth yn ôl gan academyddion tu allan i Garchar Bakirkoy ac nawr mae yna un arall tu allan i Lys Caglayan, gwylfa gyfiawnder a rhyddid. Mae’r Gwylfeydd Rhyddid hyn wedi dod yn le inni anadlu, ffordd inni synhwyro’n gilydd. Ein gobaith yw i beidio dal Gwylfeydd Rhyddid a byw mewn byd lle allem ni siarad yn rhydd gyda’n ffrindiau sy’n amddiffyn hawliau dynol a byddwn yn gwneud popeth yn ein gallu er mwyn dod â diwedd i hyn. O ran sefydliadau hawliau dynol, hoffem fynegi na fydd cau’r sefydliadau hyn i lawr yn mynd i’n hatal rhag amddiffyn hawliau dynol. Byddem yn parhau i herio trosedd yn erbyn hawliau dynol ym mhob ffordd bosib, ac mae’r her hon yn un rhyngwladol. Byddem yn parhau gyda’n brwydr rhyngwladol i gynrychioli llais y bobl ym mhob gwlad sy’n dioddef o ormes er mwyn iddynt leisio’i syniadau a phryderon a diolchwn i Wales PEN Cymru am ein cefnogi yn ein brwydr.
Gofynnodd Wales PEN Cymru i Sebnem Korur Fincanci am ei phrofiad personol o fod yn y carchar.
SKF: Roedd fy ngharchariad i yn fyr iawn felly nid oeddwn i’n dioddef gymaint o galedi â’n newyddiadurwyr, academyddion ac amddiffynwyr hawliau dynol eraill, ond mae colli eich rhyddid ei hun yn sefyllfa annioddefol. Roedd fy mhrofiad o’r carchar wedi rhoi’r cyfle imi weld amgylchiadau carchar; yn hyn o beth, rydw i’n ystyried hyn yn gyfle gan nad ydym ni, fel sefydliadau hawliau dynol, yn cael mynychu’r carchardai. Nid yw hyn yn benodol ar gyfer y llywodraeth hon ond rydym wastad wedi cael ein gwahardd rhag fynychu carchardai a chreu sylwadau annibynnol. Felly roedd bod yn y carchar yn ein galluogi i weld y carchar o’r tu fewn. Roeddwn i’n gallu gweld amgylchiadau’r carcharorion ac amodau annynol staff y carchar a rhannu’r sylwadau hyn gyda’r byd. Felly, mae Wales PEN Cymru yn gofyn inni am hyn yn bwysig iawn wrth ddarparu’r sylwadau hyn at gynulleidfa ehangach.
MB: Mae carchardai yn Nhwrci yn broblem fawr ac mae hinsawdd gwleidyddol y cyfnod yn effeithio ar lywodraethu’r carchar. Gall yr amgylchiadau hyn fod yn llac ar adegau ac yn hollol dynn ar adegau eraill. Yn anffodus, yn y cyfnod diweddar, ar ôl rhyddhau Sebnem ac yn dilyn y digwyddiad anffodus o ymgais ar coup yn Nhwrci oherwydd y Cyflwr Argyfwng, daeth amgylchiadau’r carchar yn waeth fyth. Dros y ddeng mlynedd diwethaf, mae poblogaeth carchardai wedi cynyddu pedair gwaith o 55,000 i dros 200,000. Mae hyn yn broblem o ran cadw swyddogaethau dyddiol y carchardai ac ar ran y carcharorion.
SKF: Hoffem ni hefyd fynegi ein bod ni’n wynebu heriau newydd o ran system y carchar ers y coup milwrol. Mae yna straen gynyddol ar staff carchardai, yn enwedig ar warchodwyr carchardai i beidio â dangos unrhyw drugaredd tuag at garcharon ac i fod yn greulon iawn iddynt. Fel arall, gallwn nhw gael eu cyhuddo o fod yn aelod o FETO neu sefydliadau terfysgol eraill a chael eu harestio. Roedd yna achos gyda meddyg o Garchar Bakirkoy a gafodd ei ryddhau’n ddiweddar, roedd problemau tebyg gyda gwarchodwyr Carchar Bakirkoy, hefyd. Ceisiodd gwarchodwr Carchar Bakiroy atal gwarchodwr arall rhag gicio menyw a oedd yn gorwedd ar y llawr, ac am ei ymddygiad, cafodd ei arestio a’i gyhuddo o fod yn aelod o Sefydliad FETO. Yn Nhwrci, mae systemau carchar o hyd wedi bod yn broblem, er bod rhai pethau wedi gwella ar ôl i amddiffynwyr hawliau dynol cael eu carcharu, mae’r holl system wedi llithro’n ôl ers yr ymgais ar coup. Nawr, mae yna gyfyngiadau ar lyfrau, hawliau ymweld ac nad yw anghenion goroesi yn cael eu bodloni o achos yr orboblogaeth mewn carchardai. Oherwydd hyn, mae yna diffyg nifer o welyau ac mae rhaid i garcharorion rhannu’r gwelyau a chymryd eu tro i gysgu ynddynt ar adegau gwahanol.
MB: Yn olaf, hoffwn i drafod sefyllfa diweddar arall oherwydd rydych chi’n rhan o PEN. Yn ddiweddar, oherwydd y Cyflwr Argyfwng, gan greu ‘archddyfarniad yn unol â’r ddeddfwriaeth’ (Kanun Hükmünde Kararname), sy’n weithred anghyfreithlon; cafodd dros 165 o allfeydd cyfryngau gweledol eu cau. Felly, nad yw’n bosib i bobl gael mynediad at wybodaeth a’i rhannu trwy’r cyfryngau traddodiadol. Rydym ni’n gwybod na all y gwir cael ei grybwyll ac maent yn gyfyngedig, ac ni yw erlynydd y gwir o ganlyniad i natur ein rolau. Fodd bynnag, mae hyn yn dal i fod yn broblem fawr, rydym yn byw mewn amgylchedd lle mae dros 165 o allfeydd cyfryngau wedi cael eu gwahardd a’u cae dros gyfnod byr o amser ac mae hawl y bobl i gael gwybodaeth wedi cael ei gyfaddawdu.
SFK: Mae rhaid inni hefyd gofio fod allfeydd cyfryngol eraill yn wynebu’r un bygythiad, gallent gael eu gwahardd a’u cau unrhyw bryd. Yn Nhwrci, mae’r cyfryngau prif frwd yn ofni mynegi barn ac yn cael eu bygwth i fod yn ddawel. Mae’r hawl i gael gwybodaeth a rhannu gwybodaeth yn ganolog ond mae ein rhyddid i gael gwybodaeth yn cael ei sathru a dim ond mynediad cyfyngedig at gyfryngau cymdeithasol sydd gennym ni.
*Mae Cyngor Adsefydlu Rhyngwladol ar gyfer Dioddefwyr Artaith (IRCT) yn sefydliad sy’n cynnwys 152 o ganolfannau sy’n darparu gwasanaethau adsefydlu blynyddol i tua 100,000 o ddioddefwyr artaith mewn 74 o wledydd, a gynulir 132 o aelodau ac arbenigwyr am ddegfed Syposiwm Gwyddonol IRCT er mwyn rhannu’r gwybodaeth gyda dros 400 o gyfranogwyr ym Mexico City rhwng 4ydd a 7fed Rhagfyr.
Ionawr 13eg 2017
Caroline Stockford yn dwyn tystiolaeth yn Nhwrci
Mae Caroline Stockford, bardd, cyfieithydd a Chadeirydd Pwyllgorau Cyfieithu a Hawliau Ieithyddol ac Ysgrifenwyr a Garcharwyd Wales PEN Cymru newydd ddychwelyd o Dwrci lle bu’n cynrychioli PEN Rhyngwladol fel rhan o ddirprwyaeth i arsylwi achos dau newyddiadurwr ifanc o Dwrci, Cemil Uğur a Halil Ibrahim Polat, ym Mersin, De Ddwyrain Twrci.
Cyhuddwyd y ddau newyddiadurwr ifanc o fod yn aelodau o sefydliad terfysgol ac o ledaenu propaganda am iddynt ffilmio tyrfa yn cefnogi arweinydd y PKK a garcharwyd ym Mersin yn ystod mis Awst 2016.
Galwodd yr erlyniad am ddedfryd o bymtheg mlynedd o garchar i’r ddau ond gohiriwyd yr achos tan 3 Mawrth oherwydd na ddaeth unrhyw dystiolaeth i law o du’r erlyniad heblaw am fil $1 ffug a gafwyd yn nhŷ un o’r diffynyddion ynghyd â ffleiar cyhoeddusrwydd i rali dros Gwrdiaid. Rhyddhawyd Halil Ibrahim Polat yn ddi-amod a rhyddhawyd Cecil Uǧur yn Adana yn amodol ei fod yn arwyddo yng ngorsaf yr heddlu’n ddyddiol tan 3 Mawrth. Ni chaiff yr un o’r ddau adael y wlad.
Dangoswyd cydsafiad cenedlaethol a rhyngwladol yn y llys ac ‘roedd y ddirprwyaeth yn cynnwys Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Undeb Newyddiadurwyr Twrci, Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Undeb DISK, Materion y Wasg, Selma Gürkan, pennaeth Plaid Lafur Twrci, pennaeth Cymdeithas Wasg Rydd Diyarbakır a waharddwyd yn ddiweddar ynghyd â golygydd a newyddiadurwyr o’r papur newydd Evrensel.
Yn dilyn yr achos dywedodd Caroline Stockford ar ran Wales PEN Cymru:
“Gwyddom y gallwn, wrth arsylwi achosion, chwarae rhan bwysig mewn sicrhau canlyniadau positif i newyddiadurwyr ac i’r wasg rydd yn Nhwrci.”
Dywedodd Sally Baker, Cyfarwyddwr Wales PEN Cymru: “Diolch i waith eithriadol Caroline Stockford, mae gennym ni, fel Wales PEN Cymru, lais a modd i brotestio’n erbyn y cam-drin, yr anghyfiawnder a’r diffyg rhyddid i fynegiant yn Nhwrci heddiw. Gallwn ddwyn tystiolaeth fan leiaf.”
Bu Caroline Stockford, bardd a chyfieithydd, yn byw am flynyddoedd maith yn Nhwrci ac mae’n siarad yr iaith yn rhugl. Dyma’r ail achos iddi “arsylwi” arno ar ran PEN. Ym mis Medi ‘roedd yn y llys yn Istanbwl i arsylwi achos tri o uwch olygyddion y papur newydd dyddiol Taraf ac ymunodd ag eraill i gadw gwylnos i’r ygrifennwr Aslı Erdoğan y tu allan i’r carchar i ferched yn Bakırköy, Istanbwl.
Fel Cadeirydd Pwyllgorau Cyfieithu, Hawliau Ieithyddol ac Ysgrifenwyr a Garcharwyd Wales PEN Cymru, bu’n arwain ar brosiect sy’n anelu at amlygu a chynorthwyo i gefnogi’r iaith Gwrdaidd yn Nhwrci. Yn 2016, siaradodd ar ran Wales PEN Cymru mewn cynadleddau ar Gyfieithu a Hawliau Ieithyddol yn Ne Affrica ac Amsterdam a chynrychiolodd Wales PEN Cymru yn 82fed Cyngres Ryngwladol PEN yn Ourense.
Chair of the Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison Committee of Wales PEN Cymru, Turkish translator Caroline Stockford took part in a fact-finding mission to Istanbul from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September to report on the state of freedom of the press and to witness the trial of Tafaf Newspaper Editor Ahmet Altan, reporters Yasemin Çongar, Mehmed Baransu and former Editor Yıldıray Oğur.
Meetings with newspapers, television stations and the Turkish Union of Journalists
During the week we met with opposition and independent newspapers such as Evrensel, Birgün and Cumhuriyet.
The general opinion is that the situation for journalism and freedom of the press in Turkey is going to get a lot worse. Press cards are being cancelled and permits to attend Government press briefings are being denied to opposition newspapers. Kurdish reporters in the South East are being told by police that it is illegal to report under the State of Emergency. Evrensel newspaper told us that two of their journalists Cemil Ugur and Halil Ibrahim Polat had been arrested on the 23rd of August in the province of Mardin and held in custody for eight days with no access to legal representation.
Under the SOE members of the public suspected of having taken part in the coup, or of having Gülenist sympathies are being arrested and detained for up to 30 days with no legal advice for the first 5 days. It is widely believed that the SOE is being abused in order to purge society of writers, thinkers and journalists that are critical of the administration. Forty thousand prisoners in Turkish jails have been scheduled for early parole to make way for those arrested under suspicion of playing a part in the failed coup. These suspects include writers and journalists, academics and civil servants.
We also visited two television stations, IMC TV and Hayatın Sesi. The former reported that their cable broadcast licence had been cancelled due to their showing an interview they had conducted with a member of the outlawed PKK. This is despite state-run stations broadcasting similar interviews. IMC TV report from a humanitarian, ecological and gender balanced point of view and, like other independent television stations such as Hayatın Sesi, they face constant fines for having potentially ‘insulted the President’ or for broadcasting from the sites of suicide bombings in Turkey seconds after a blanket-broadcast ban had been introduced by the television regulating authority.
At least 15 journalists were arrested and detained during the four-day mission of our delegation which was led by Article 19 and representatives from Danish PEN, the European Federation of Journalists, German PEN, Index on Censorship, My Media, the Norwegian Press Association, the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Norwegian PEN, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and Caroline Stockford, Chair of the Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison Committee of Wales PEN Cymru.
Arrest and detention of leading female writers, journalists and linguists
When the Kuridsh newspaper Özgür Gündem was under threat in the SE of the country, a group of 68 journalists went to Diyarbakır over a period of 8 weeks to work for the newspaper and show solidarity.
Leading literary figure, Aslı Erdoğan has been in solitary confinement at Bakırköy Women’s Prison since 20th August.
This is taken from Hürriyet Daily News, 25th August:
Aslı Erdoğan was a member of daily Özgür Gündem’s advisory board and columnist, is being held in solitary confinement and says she has been unable to get her necessary medicine for five days.
“They are treating me in a way that will leave permanent damage on my body,” she told daily Cumhuriyet through her lawyer, Nesrullah Oğuz, adding that she is forced to sleep in a bed that someone previously urinated in.
“I’ve been experiencing problems in my intestines for 10 years. My pancreas and digestive system doesn’t work properly, but my medicine has not been given to me for five days. I am diabetic and I need a special nutrition. But in jail I am only able to eat yoghurt … Also, even though I suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, I have not been allowed access to open air [since entering prison],” Erdoğan said.
There appears to be a danger of being accused of ‘affiliation with a terrorist organisation’ in Turkey at present for many who try to assist Kurdish causes or the call for peace talks and cessation of military activity in the SE of Turkey.
Another board member of the newspaper Özgür Gündem, Necmiye Alpay who is a writer and philologist in her seventies was arrested and remanded in custody at Bakırköy prison on 31st August. She is being charged with spreading propaganda regarding a terrorist organsiation and ‘disrupting the unity of the state’ In their statement on the 9th of September, 2016 PEN International said the following:
PEN International is deeply concerned by the arrest of renowned writer and linguist Necmiye Alpay on 31 August on terror charges as a part of an ongoing investigation into closed daily Özgür Gündem, which has also seen writer Aslı Erdoğan detained.
On 31 August, Istanbul’s Eighth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the arrest of Alpay on charges of being a member of a terror organization and disrupting the unity of the state; she denies all charges against her. PEN believes that Alpay is being held solely for her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.
Wales PEN Cymru joined Danish PEN, German PEN, Norwegian PEN, Turkish PEN and over 200 others, including many Turkish writers and poets to demonstrate against the arrests of Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay outside Bakırköy women’s prison on Friday 2nd September.
There were speeches, performances of poetry and theatre and several leading literary figures as well as the members of PEN Turkey expressed their gratitude to Wales PEN Cymru for their presence and solidarity.
Please consider sending postcards containing supportive messages in English to Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan at the following address:
Ms. Necmiye Alpay
Bakırköy Kadın Kapalı Tutukevi
Bakırköy – İstanbul – Turkey
Members writing in Welsh may send their messages to Wales PEN Cymru directly via Turkishinterpreterwales@gmail.com and have them sent on in Welsh and Turkish to both Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan.
Observing the Taraf trial at the High Criminal Court, Istanbul
Wales PEN Cymru was among other PEN Centres, Embassies and Press Organisations in court to witness the Taraf Newspaper trial where Editor Ahmet Altan, reporters Yasemin Çongar, Mehmed Baransu and former Editor Yıldıray Oğur were before the three judges accused of having divulged state secrets in relation to a coup plot six years ago.
The case proceeded despite the fact that a new and unsigned indictment appeared to have been produced overnight and not submitted to defence. The 246 page indictment the defence had received contained 45 pages copied and pasted from the indictment of Cumhuriyet Editor in Chief Can Dündar whose trial took place in 2015. The words, ‘the defendant Can Dündar’ appeared on several pages of the indictment against the Taraf journalists. New charges had been brought against the defendants accusing them of having a role in the most recent failed coup, of spying and of attempting to bring down the state.
At the end of the day’s hearing, a new date was set for the 23rd of November and the defendants (all but Mehmed Baransu who has been in custody for several years) were released.
Following this, on Saturday, September 10th, defendant Ahmet Altan and his brother Dr Mehmet Altan were both arrested and detained on charges of ‘giving subliminal messages to incite a coup’ in a television programme on which they appeared on the 14th of July 2016.
Wales PEN Cymru are deeply concerned that the State of Emergency and anti-terror laws in Turkey are being used indiscriminately to imprison outspoken writers, journalists and academics and to stifle freedom of speech in the country.
Below is a short message from co-defendant and journalist Yasemin Çongar regarding the Altan brothers:
The most critical 24 hours for Ahmet and Mehmet Altan
Thank you all for supporting our demand for the release of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan.
After 11 days in police custody where they did not see the sky, had only two small cans of food for the whole day, no tea, no coffee, no cigarettes, limited drinking water, no access to family, no tv, no papers, no lights out –they had to sleep in a brightly-lit room behind bars– they will be questioned by the police for the first time today. Then they will see the prosecutor and in all likelihood will be referred to the court with a demand for pre-trial imprisonment, which might mean months if not years in today’s Turkey.
Anything you can do in the next 24 hours –getting more people to sign the support letter as well as social media messages with hashtags #AhmetAltan #MehmetAltan and #LetAltansGoFree or, more importantly, any public statements you can make or help organise — will mean a lot.
We would urge you, as our members, to send us your ideas on campaigns of solidarity that we might run to assist Turkish journalists and writers at this difficult period in the history of Turkey.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Wales PEN Cymru.
‘In Turkey the internet is seen as a place where things can be done independently, and they want to take the internet under control because they fear that.’ – Journalist Yasemin Çongar.
London, 16 December 2015 – Freedom of expression in the digital sphere has deteriorated dramatically in Turkey since the Gezi Park protests in March 2013 when peaceful demonstrations organised through social media were harshly repressed, according to a new report released today by PEN International and PEN Norway. The report is the third in a wide-ranging series monitoring and assessing such violations in the country since 2012.
Read the report here: Surveillance Secrecy and Self Censorship New Digital Freedom Challenges in Turkey.
The report documents how Turkish authorities have stepped up their crackdown on freedom of expression online. It highlights the persecution of individual journalists and other writers for their online writing; amendments to laws which have increased the ability of authorities to censor online material; the practice of mass surveillance; and the pressures placed on internet businesses operating in Turkey to censor material or provide information on users to authorities, to name but a few of the challenges.
‘We are gravely concerned about the extraordinary degree of control that Turkish authorities are attempting to exercise over legitimate public discussions online which are well within the interest of the Turkish people. The fact that even as we launch this report one of our colleagues, journalist and PEN Turkey member Can Dündar is behind bars for carrying out his work as a journalist, demonstrates the decline of freedom of freedom of expression,’ said Jennifer Clement, PEN International president.
‘We call on Turkish authorities to respect their obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression online and to release Can Dündar, Erdem Gül and all others imprisoned for their legitimate exercise of fundamental rights.’
The report is a frank assessment of the recent regime of online censorship and mass surveillance against a backdrop of longstanding, serious abuses of the judicial process and attacks on freedom of expression by Turkish authorities, taking the form of politically-charged anti-terror and corruption investigations and trials.
‘There isn’t a great deal of mystery around how these legal instruments will be used. The removal of a lot of content is going to be requested; a wall is going to be built in the path of journalism. They have constructed a system of internet regulation that is far from what should be present in a state where the rule of law holds sway; now it’s time for that system to be implemented.’ – Doğan Akın, owner and editor-in-chief of T24.
Blocks on social media and websites, online surveillance and repressive legislation which results in numerous arrests, detentions and trials have become commonplace. According to statistics for 2014 released by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Turkey single-handedly surpassed the 46 other states in the Council of Europe (CoE) in terms of cases involving violations of the right to freedom of expression.
‘The report on digital censorship in Turkey shows a shocking lack of trust from the regime towards its citizens and justifies the deep fear of injustice and suppression being felt in the country’ – William Nygaard, President Norwegian PEN.
The net effect of this system of repressive legislation and surveillance is to drive journalists and other writers into self-censorship. As investigative journalist İsmail Saymaz told PEN:
‘Of course [surveillance] has had an impact. For one, people speak on the phone less; they constantly create new email accounts and communicate via them. Until recently, they would engage in behaviour like refraining from keeping CDs around the house or periodically wiping their computers’ hard drives…We eventually got used to living this way. We had to somehow try to continue engaging in journalism regardless.’
The report, based on interviews with Turkish journalists and other writers, supplemented by detailed research, concludes with detailed recommendations to the Turkish government, the international community and to internet businesses operating in Turkey, requesting much-needed legislative reform, how to improve transparency and accountability and to ensure that surveillance practices do not violate human rights.
‘Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right not only in international law, but is also the bedrock of democracy. Where this right is denied, all other human rights are at risk.’ – Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.
PEN International and its Centres around the world have been documenting freedom of expression violations and campaigning on behalf of writers in Turkey for several decades. From the 1985 visit of Harold Pinter and Arthur Miller on behalf of PEN International to campaign against the torture of writers and others in prison; to continued calls for investigations into the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian editor and PEN member Hrant Dink; to campaigning against the prosecution of writers Orhan Pamuk in 2005 and Elif Shafak in 2006; to the 2012 PEN delegation to Turkey calling for reform of laws stifling Turkey’s writers, publishers, translators, and journalists, PEN’s work continues in Turkey today.
You can read the report online here:
– See more at: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/turkey-new-report-highlights-declining-space-for-freedom-of-expression-in-the-digital-sphere/#sthash.ARlo5B4h.dpuf
WALES PEN CYMRU WRITERS JOIN ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH PEN IN LETTER TO DAVID CAMERON
Writers urge British Government to safeguard freedom of expression in India
11 November 2015
London, UK – More than 200 writers including Nikita Lalwani, Henry Marsh, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and Val McDermid have written an open letter to David Cameron calling on the British government to take action to safeguard freedom of expression in India.
The letter, signed by members and supporters of PEN International’s UK-based centres – English PEN, Scottish PEN and Wales PEN Cymru – highlights ‘the rising climate of fear, growing intolerance and violence towards critical voices who challenge orthodoxy or fundamentalism in India’ and urges Cameron to ‘engage with Prime Minister Modi both publicly and privately on this crucial issue’. Prime Minister Modi arrives in the UK on Thursday, 12 November.
The writers express grave concern over threats to freedom of expression in the country and highlight the cases of three public intellectuals murdered in the last two years, the murders of at least 37 journalists since 1992, and the threats that writers and others continue to receive, and the protests that are mounting in response to the attacks:
Over the past month, at least 40 Indian novelists, poets and playwrights have returned the prize awarded to them by the Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters, to protest against these attacks. In their statements, the writers have criticised the Akademi’s silence over the murders, the deteriorating political environment in which those expressing dissent have been attacked by government ministers, and challenged the government to demonstrate tolerance and protect free speech.
After this, and a silent march by protesting writers, the Akademi issued a statement condemning the murder of Kalburgi and a resolution asking ‘governments at the centre and in the states to take immediate action to bring the culprits to book and ensure the security of writers now and in the future.’ It also requested the writers who had returned awards to reconsider their decisions. Dissenting writers responded to the Akademi saying it should have spoken out much earlier, and urged the Akademi to rethink how it can support ‘writers all over India, and by extension, the people of the country.’ They reminded the Akademi of the urgency, calling the present time a ‘moment of spiralling hatred and intolerance.’ Mr Modi’s government has not yet formally responded to the Akademi’s resolution.
They also describe how the ‘protests have grown beyond the community of Indian writers of all languages’ and how ‘scientists, artists, film-makers, academics, scholars, and actors have either complained about the climate of intolerance or returned awards on a scale unprecedented in India.’
The letter concludes by asking the Prime Minister to raise these issues with Prime Minister Modi and to ‘urge him to provide better protection for writers, artists and other critical voices and ensure that freedom of speech is safeguarded. Without these protections a democratic, peaceful society is not possible.’
The full text of the letter and list of signatories is available here.
In May 2015, PEN, in partnership with the International Human rights Program (IHRP) at the University Of Toronto Faculty Of Law, published a report documenting the many violations of the right to free expression in the country since Prime Minister Modi’s inauguration and calling on India to repeal overbroad laws that enable censorship in the world’s largest democracy. The report – Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech – can be read here.
- Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN: email@example.com
- Christina Neuwirth, Project Officer, Scottish PEN: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Menna Elfyn, President, Wales PEN Cymru: email@example.com
- Sahar Halaimzai, Communications and Campaigns Manager, PEN International firstname.lastname@example.org