List of prosecuted Turkish writers

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Several Turkish writers (fiction writers, journalists, academics, etc.) have been prosecuted in Turkey.

Grounds for prosecution[edit]

Many are prosecuted for statements deemed unpatriotic by official institutions, or by Turkish nationalists. Several disputed laws are often used for this, among others Article 301. On the scale of those prosecutions, and especially the abuse of Article 301, Amnesty International stated that: "The frequency with which Article 301 is being used and the arbitrary nature of its application represent a real threat to freedom of speech in Turkey. Individuals are being harassed and threatened with imprisonment simply for speaking or writing about aspects of Turkish history or culture that do not conform to an imposed nationalist ideal."[1]

The scale of these state-sponsored actions against dissenting opinions is also clear from the fact that in one case, in 1996, 184 of Turkey's leading writers, artists and publishers were indicted under the Anti-Terror Law for "advocacy of separatism" in a single trial at Istanbul State Security Court.[2] The trial was halted in October 1997 by force of a new law passed by the Turkish parliament.[3]

EU officials have complained about this with the Government of Turkey. As an example, the EU Enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, has demanded in 2006 that Turkey rewrite its laws which restrict free expression and refrain from all related denial of free opinion.[4] Also human rights organizations complain about these repeated, politically motivated prosecutions. Human Rights Watch concludes: "Each of these individuals was charged for nothing more than the peaceful expression of his opinions."

List of writers[edit]

The following is an incomplete list of these prosecuted Turkish writers (and other persons), excluding cases listed at Article 301:

  • Ömer Asan, charged in 2002 with allegations of the breach of Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law by "propagandating separatism" for his book Pontos Kültürü.[5] In 2003 Article 8 was abolished, and he was acquitted as a result.[6]
  • İsmail Beşikçi, scholar currently serving a 100-year jail sentence on propaganda charges for his writings on Turkish Kurds.[7]
  • İpek Çalışlar, charged in August 2006 for insulting Atatürk.[8] In December 2006 she was acquitted.[9]
  • Gökhan Gençay, writing for the BirGün newspaper, prosecuted for his reporting on conscientious objectors.[citation needed]
  • Erol Önderoğlu, journalist and representative of Reporters Without Borders.[10][11] Arrested in 2016 for supporting Ozgur Gundem, a Kurdish newspaper, and accused of supporting terrorists.[12]
  • Baskin Oran, former member of the Human Rights Advisory Board (HRAB) for the Turkish Prime Minister’s office, charged in May 2006 with "public humiliation of the courts authority" and "dangerous incitement of public hatred and enmity". Oran stated: "My freedom of expression is being ambushed for strategic reasons."[13] In November 2006 he was acquitted.[14]
  • Pınar Selek, convicted to life imprisonment in January 2013 in connection to a 1998 explosion that occurred at the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, the 15-year-long 'judicial harassment'[15] against Selek is widely considered to have been motivated by her contact with Kurdish separatists as part of her sociological research.[16][17]
  • Öget Öktem Tanör, Turkish neuropsychologist, charged with "terrorism propaganda" by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as a result of signing a petition asking the government to cease military operations in the Kurdish part of Turkey.[18]
  • Sehmus Ülek, vice-president of the human rights organization Mazlum-Der.
  • Atilla Yayla, a political theorist, was convicted in January 2008 and sentenced to a suspended 15-month jail sentence for insulting Atatürk by claiming in a 2006 speech that the early Turkish Republic was not entirely democratic and that the cult of personality surrounding him was illogical. He is now living in self-imposed exile in England.
  • Murat Yetkin, writer for the Radikal newspaper, charged in June 2006 with attempting to influence a fair trial for having criticised the prosecution of Orhan Pamuk.[19] In November 2006 the charges were dropped.[20]
  • Ragip Zarakolu, a Turkish human rights activist and publisher who has long faced legal harassment for publishing books on controversial subjects in Turkey, especially on minority and human rights in Turkey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amnesty International. Turkey quashes rights to free expression Archived 5 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine., The Wire, May 2006. Retrieved on 27 October 2006.
  2. ^ Amnesty International. Turkey: Widespread human rights violations in the name of state security[permanent dead link]. 1 October 1996.
  3. ^ Amnesty International, AI Report 1998: Turkey.
  4. ^ The Brussels Journal, EU Criticizes Turkish Law on "Insulting Turkishness", 19 July 2006.
  5. ^ 'Pontos Kültürü' yargılandı Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine. – 11-07-2002 Özgür Politika
  6. ^ English PEN. "Omer ASAN". Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  7. ^ International PEN. "Newsletter of the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN" (PDF). Retrieved 2 August 2006. 
  8. ^ Turkish Daily News. "Author of biography on Ataturk's wife charged with insulting late leader". Retrieved 15 September 2006. 
  9. ^ BBC News (19 December 2006). "Turkish writer cleared of insult". Retrieved 22 December 2006. 
  10. ^ Lowen, Mark (13 April 2017). "Erdogan's Turkey". BBC. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Wirsching, Daniel (11 April 2017). "Türkei: Erol Önderoglu: "Schon heute gelten wir als Terroristen"". Augsburger Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "Haftbefehl gegen Mitarbeiter von Reporter ohne Grenzen" (in German). Die Zeit. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  13. ^ Amnesty International. Turkey quashes rights to free expression Archived 5 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.. May 2006.
  14. ^ Erol Önderoğlu (5 November 2006). "Minority Rights Report Authors Acquitted". Retrieved 22 December 2006. 
  15. ^ PEN International (12 December 2012), "News: TURKEY – PEN International Concerned About Pinar Selek Trial". Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  16. ^ Editorial (2011). "Rights for all". Nature. 470 (7335): 436. Bibcode:2011Natur.470..436.. doi:10.1038/470436a. 
  17. ^ Maureen Freely (2012). "Crossing the Line". Index on Censorship. 41 (3): 56–65. doi:10.1177/0306422012456477. 
  18. ^ "Academic voices her fears for Turkey ahead of referendum". BBC. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017. 
  19. ^ Erol Önderoğlu, Columnist Murat Yetkin Faces 4.5 Years Jail Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine., BIAnet, 1 July 2006. Retrieved on 23 July 2006.
  20. ^ Erol Önderoğlu, BIA² Media Report: Army Shadow on Press Archived 7 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine., BIAnet, 20 November 2006. Retrieved on 22 December 2006.