This Project is co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Republic of Turkey.

Roundtable Meeting in Brussels

As the last event of the project, a roundtable meeting was organised on 22 September 2015 at 12:30, at the TÜSİAD EU-Brussels Representative Office (13, Avenue des Gaulois, 1040, Brussels). The meeting gathered representatives from European Commission, European Parliament, EU External Action, relevant NGOs and press members. At the opening coordinator Mr Metin Celal and TUSIAD Brussels Chair Mr Bahadır Kaleağası made welcome speeches and administrative manager Selen Akcali gave brief information about the aims, activities and results of the project. Communications manager Yonca Cingöz made presentation on the main features and highlights of the final report called “Report on the Freedom to publish in Turkey on the way to EU Accession”. The meeting provided the team an opportunity to exchange information and experiences on the freedom to publish in Turkey in particular and freedom of expression in general, make new contact from EU institutions and civil bodies and develop the international network created in the course of the... read more

Ankara Visit

One of our last activities was our visit to Ankara on 3-4 September 2015 to present striking details of the “Report on Freedom to Publish in Turkey on the way to European Union Accession” to the related authorities.Project Coordinator Metin Celal, Communications Manager Yonca Cingoz and Administrative Manager Selen Akcali made visits to Mehmet Oktem, Vice Director for Laws and Sumeyye Kircali, Lawyer at Directorate Generale for European Union at the Ministry of Justice. The team also met with three experts at the Ministry of EU and Andreea Schmidt, the Vice General Secretary of Policial Affairs and the expert Didem Bulutlar from  the Delegation of Turkey and the EU. During the visits information and opinions about the report in particular and the project as a whole in general were exchanged. These visits have been a step forwarsd towards one of the project aims, to create and develop an advocacy process between publishing sector and policy makers in Turkey.... read more

Stockholm Visit

Project coordinator Metin Celâl, Communications Manager Yonca Cingöz and Events Manager Cenk Onturk had a visit to Stockholm on 28-29 April 2015. The main aim of the visit was to meet with the project partner Swedish Publishers Association and assess the project’s process. Another aim was to gather information about publishing sector and freedom of expression in Sweden in terms of legislation, implementations and the role and effect of civil society on this issue to be able to compare the situation with Turkey. First meeting was held at our partner’s representative Ola Wallin’s own publishing house, Ersatz Co together with Wallin and his publisher partner, Anna Bengtsson. The project team was informed about the profile of the publishing house and their observations about the current state of book publishing in Sweden. On the same day, the team had a formal dinner with Wallin, Bengtsson, Swedish PEN President Ola Larsmo, Member of Swedish Parliament and Dep. Member of Committee on EU Affairs Désirée Pethrus Engström, Member of Swedish Parliament Ida Karkiainen. Parliament members reflected the Swedish politicians’ attitude to freedom of expression and publishing issues and how they perceive the situation in Turkey. The team informed the attendants with data from TPA’s former Freedom to Publish Reports. On 29 April morning, the team met with Tomas Lappalainen, Swedish Writers Union President in the Union office and talked about the problems from writers’ point of view. Afterwards, the team visited the office of Swedish Publishers Association to meet with the Managing Director Kristina Ahlinder and Legal Advisor Mikaela Zabrodsky. Ahlinder and Zabrodsky shared comprehensive information about the legislation related to book... read more

Closing Conference in Istanbul, Final Report Released

“On the Way to Freedom to Publish” Project Closing Conference was held on 7 July, 2015, at the CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel, İstanbul. Publishers, writers, librarians, academics, NGO representatives and several journalists from national newspapers attended the conference. At the opening, Turkish Publishers Association President Metin Celâl and Project Partner, Swedish Publishers Association EC Member and International Publishers Association Freedom to Publish Committee Chair Ola Wallin made speeches. Celâl gave the details about the project activities and awareness raising effect of thes. Wallin gave examples of the barriers against FoX around the world, naming Turkey around the most problematic countries he is working on. After opening speeches, lawyer Tora Pekin, writer of the project’s “Report on the freedom to publish in Turkey on the way to EU Accession” shared his impression about the current situation in Turkey by giving very recent examples of sued authors. At the second part of the conference, writer Yekta Kopan, Istanbul Bilgi University  Professor Asli Tunc and lawyer Haluk Inanici presented their professional assessments on the report. The meeting ended with questions of the attendees and... read more

Van Regional Meeting

Project’s last regional meeting was held on 25 April 2015, at Elite World Hotel, Van. The guest speakers of the meeting, lawyer Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Librarians Society of Turkey Vice President Aydın İleri and writer Yavuz Ekinci made short speeches, sharing their experiences on freedom to publish in Turkey. Publishers, academics, journalists and writers from around Van and Hakkari attended the meeting. Ekinci issued censorship and auto-censorship by examplifying his feelings and anxiety while writing his novel on Hizbullah, the fear he felt after the reactions from his close community and his self-interrogation about why he chose this subject to write on. Kerestecioğlurelated censorship and auto-censorship with the judicial culture in Turkey, saying “This prohibitory judicial culture creates the auto-censorship. The works are are abolished before they are created by the individuals by this mechanism and by a boomerang effect, one case of censorship brings about the next”. İleri mentioned the banning on books goes on in Turkey with the examples from his field of expertise, libraries. He told that in local level, library administers apply various mechanisms of censorship, initiated always with the notifications of some “sensitive” citizens, individuals targeting some books. He said, “Then rapidly some commissions are being formed to delibarate on these warnings and banning decisions are made. We do not know whom these commissions consist of and what they are capable of, we do not know any of these”. Attendees stressed on the fact that in the last few years, because of KCK operations lost of publishers and journalists living in the region were taken into custody. The meeting ended after the comments of the... read more

Awareness Raising in Samsun Book Fair

A panel was organized in TUYAP Samsun Black Sea Book Fair to raise awareness of the readers and general public attending the fair about the concept of freedom to publish, this history of this struggle and about our project. Panel was held in 19 May, at 19 Mayıs Hall. Moderated by publisher Fahri Aral, journalists Nedim Şener and Sibel Oral, Turkey Writers Union President Mustafa Köz made speeches sharing their experiences and comments on this history and current situation in Turkey.... read more

Freedom to Publish Talks in Antalya

Barriers against freedom to publish in the Mediterranean region of Turkey has been issued in the regional meeting held in Antalya. Taking place in Ramada Hotel, numerous publishing stakeholders participated in this meeting. Writer Ayşe Sarısayın, publisher Ömer Asan and lawyer Tora Pekin made opening speeches. While Sarısayın shared one of her past experiences in Antalya, witnessing the book burning in a school by the school inspectors, Asan gave information about his book being seized years after its publication because of public rising against missonary activities in Turkey in 1990s, himself being sued in the Security Court because Pontus Greek Empire was issued in the book.  Tora Pekin gave examples of misuse of Penal Code Article 299 on “insulting the President”. He argued that this Article should not be used to to imprison people but it is and this creates very insecure environment for writers. Toplantıda yayınlama özgürlüğüyle ilgili sorunların yayıncılar, yazarlar ve medyaya etkileri masaya yatırıldı. Yazar ve çevirmen Ayşe Sarısayın, yayıncı, yazar ve yapımcı Ömer Asan ile hukukçu Tora Pekin’in konuşmacı olarak yer aldığı toplantıda, Antalya’da yaşayan yayıncı, yazar ve aydınlar yayın alanında karşılaştıkları sorunları dile getirdiler. Tora Pekin, “Cumhurbaşkanına hakaret” nedeniyle verilen tutuklama kararlarını örnek vererek, TCK’nın 299’uncu maddesi nedeniyle tutuklama kararının verilemeyeceğini belirterek, “Bu kararların hüküm sürdüğü bir ülkede, değil Cumhurbaşkanı ile ilgili kitap yazmak, haber yayınlamak, sokakta konuşmak bile güvenli değildir” diye konuştu. Ayşe Sarısayın yayınlama özgürlüğüyle ilgili 12 Eylüllü yıllarda Antalya’da bir ilkokulda milli eğitim müfettişlerinin çocukların çantalarını karıştırarak buldukları kitapları okulun bahçesinde yaktıklarını, öğretmenleri de sürdüklerini anlattı. Sarısayın, “Bu olay, Nazi Almanyası’nda 1933 yılında gerçekleşen kitap yakma operasyonunu hatırlatıyor.” dedi. Ömer Asan,... read more

Freedom to Publish Discussed in Trabzon

The meeting for hearing the words of those in the Black Sea region of Turkey, a regional meeting was held in Trabzon, one of the biggest cities in this region. The meeting started with Metin Celal’s brief speech introducing the project and continued with the speeches by writer Atilla Birkiye and publisher Muge Sokmen. Birkiye and Sokmen overviewed the history of freedom to publish struggle in Turkey from late Ottoman until today and expressed their faith in this struggle to be continued stubbornly in any condition. After the speeches, the participants from Trabzon and Rize gave feedback about the local problems they face, made comments on the local and overall situation and suggestions. Around 30 participants were present at this... read more

Panel in Izmir Book Fair

A panel titled “On the Way to Freedom to Publish” has been organized on the first saturday of the 2015 Izmir Book Fair. Speakers were Turkish Journalists Association President Turgay Olcayto, writer Mine Söğüt and writer Hakan Günday. Moderated by Faruk Suyun, the panel speakers shared their experiences on freedom to publish in Turkey. Sogut said that another generation is likely to continue discussing this issue because it is a systemic problem. She adviced to get into an overall system critique and reconstruction of the opponent identity as totally independent from the system. Olcayto summarized the last 12-13 years as a period of acceleration pressure over freedom of expression, mentioning that autocensorship has been settled as a norm among journalists in Turkey related to the fear of losing jobs or being targeted by the government and 7000 journalists were fired because they could not adopt this situation. Günday, spoke of the “bossing” mechanisms surrounding the writers such as “present laws, ex-laws, moral rules, society rules, fame, money, these are all among the bosses. They are aligned while you are merely trying to tell a story.  I found my way to abstain from these: I took my story as my boss. You are beaten by it the most but it also makes you go through the right way.” Mentioning that writing is and interesting form of communication, he added that freedom for publishers is actually not only the issue of publishing but also of the readers, they should also demand this freedom for their own awakeness and free... read more

Regional Meeting in Diyarbakır

Project’s regional meeting in Diyarbakır was held on 7 April 2015 at Liluz Hotel with attendance of various local publishers, journalists, writers and translators. Poet Ahmet Telli, publisher Tugrul Pasaoglu and lawyer Tora Pekin made short speeches reflecting their personel experiences and observations regarding freedom to publish in Turkey. Tora Pekin, also lawyer of Cumhuriyet Daily,started his speech by commenting that Diyarbakır is a city where mother tongue as a verbal or written tool has been forbidden for long time and a great fight to regain it has been put up. Pekin said freedom of expression is the primary problem of Turkey now and gave examples of the court cases to Cumhuriyet columnists for Charlie Hebdo illustration, Penguen comic magazine’s case and increasing restrictions over social media.Stressing that the problem has got bigger after 17-25 December investigations,Pekin argued that limitless bans over internet has become a major tool to erase a certain period from social memory. He added that Penal Code Article 216 which originally intended to protect the minorities has been used for a while to protect majority and supress minorities, thus has replaced the Article 301. Poet Ahmet Telli said, before writers autocensored themselves not to be sued under Articles 141 and 142 of Penal Code. Sharing his earlier experiences regarding censorship and autocensorship including threats and imprisonment, Telli said “Before, anything regarding ‘Kurd’ and Kurdishness was a cause for punishment. When we look back now, we have come a long way. If today people can publish Kurdish texts, it is not a favour of the authorities in charge or a gained right but a must gained... read more

Reginal Meeting in Adana

Regional meeting in Adana was held on 26 March 2015 at Seyhan Hotel. Writer Behçet Çelik, poet and publisher Adnan Özer and lawyer Tora Pekin spoke at the opening. Following the speeches, participants from Adana consisting of local publishers,  writers, transaltors, journalists adn NGO representatives discussed on the problems of their region obstructing to achieve freedom to... read more

Regional Meeting in Ankara

Our regional meeting in the capital, Ankara was held on 19 March 2015 at Eyüboğlu Hotel with the participation of representatives from various trade associations, writers and academicians. Opening speeches were made by writer Haluk Gerger,publishers Hayri Erdogan and lawyer Tora Pekin. Erdoğan commented that despite that at first glance it seems that we have left behing the days when the books were seized, publishing houses were raided, publishers were imprisoned,this is only a quantitative change. Obstacles against freedom to publish continue in different shape and we have just entered a new era of bans said Erdogan. Mentioning that freedom to publish is among the fundemental human rights, Haluk Gerger said it must be recognized the organic relation between the rights-freedoms related problems following 12 September and the Kurdish problem and war. Tora Pekin argued that especially after 17-25 December operations, courts now more easily make decisions for “contravert and debut” towards dissident media institutions. Regarding the decisions for banning internet pages, “They want to erase certain events from the memory of the society. People researching on this period will not be able to find anything on the net” Pekin said. Pekin commented that Article 216 of Turkish Penal Code has now replaced Article 301 as a tool for imposing the interests of vast majorty  upon minorities.After opening speeches, free discussion took place among participants on freedom to publish issues of the region and in... read more

Freedom to Publish Panel in Bursa Book Fair

We have organized a panel named “On the Way to Freedom to Publish” in 13rd Bursa Book Fair on 15 March 2015. Moderated by the journalist Turhan Gunay, journalist-writer Ahmet Sik, writer Buket Uzuner, writer and publisher Fatih Erdogan spoke about their perspectives on the meaning of “freedom to publish” enriched with anecdotes from their personel histories.The panel was welcomed with great interest by the book fairs’... read more

Regional Meeting in Bursa

Regional meeting in Bursa was held on 28 February 2015 at Nazım Hikmet Cultural Center. At the opening, Can Publishing Houses Editor-in-Chief, Sirma Koksal, Cem Erciyes from Radikal Daily Supplements Editor-in-Chief, Cem Erciyes and lawyer Filiz Kerestecioglu made short speeches. Following this part, participants consisting of publishers, journalists and lawpersons discussed about the problems related to freedom to publish in... read more

Regional Meeting in Izmir

Project’s second regional meeting was held in Izmir, Alsancak,  İzmir Sanat Auditorium Hall on 19 February 2015. After the opening speeches by writer Akif Kurtuluş, publisher Can Oz and lawyer Tora Pekin, around 40 participants have discussed about their observations about the Aegean region’s problems shadowing freedom to publish in Turkey and raised suggestions for... read more

Regional Meeting in İstanbul

First of the 9 regional meetings planned within the scope of the project was held at the heart of Turkish publishing, Istanbul on 10 February 2015, at Beyoglu Cezayir Restaurant. The meeting gathered together several active publishers, publishing stakeholders, librarians, journalists, academicians and CSOs with a focus on freedom of expression. After the opening speeches by Acik Radyo Director Omer Madra,PEN Turkey President, writer and columnist Zeynep Oral and lawyer Filiz Kerestecioglu, the meeting continued with open discussion among the participant about obstacles against freedom to publish in Turkey and peculiar to Istanbul publishing, stressing on the need of solidarity at this... read more

Awareness Raising and Information Workshop in Ankara

Freedom to Publish Awareness Raising and Information Workshop was held in Ankara, HiltonSa Hotel on 27 January 2015. Among 70 participants were the representatives from the Ministries of Justice, EU, Culture and Tourism, Ombudsman, Human Rights Institution, CSO representatives working on human rights and freedom of expression as well as all the publishing stakeholders such as publishers, writers, translators, journalists and librarians. First key note speaker, Ireneusz Fidos, European Delegation of Turkey Head of Section for Political affairs said, “Fundamental rights have to be fully respected in the spirit of the accession process of Turkey, reflecting the universal values that both the EU and Turkey have subscribed to in their partnership.” Expressing the fourth judicial reform package as a positive development, and mentioning serious challenges the media faced in Turkey  in terms of freedom of media including resignations and dismissals of journalists, widespread self-censorship and frequent website bans, he added their concern about the frequent legislative changes introduced on Internet legislation with insufficient public consultation. Fidos said, “Freedom of expression online and offline is high on our agenda, both inside the EU and in our cooperation worldwide, as a benchmark for modern and forward-looking democratic societies. Each year in its Progress Report the EU looks at the respect for fundamental freedoms in Turkey.” Fidos concluded: “Freedom to publish and freedom of expression are fundamental rights. A democratic society, where decision-makers are held accountable based on timely and accessible information, is impossible without the freedom of expression, an essential tool for public oversight.” Second speaker was Ege Erkoçak, the Ministry of the European Union, Head of Directorate for Political Affairs.... read more

Panel in Cukurova Book Fair

Second panel of the project was organized in 8. Cukurova Book Fair in Adana on 17 January 2015. Panel speakers were writer Oya Baydar, journalist and writer Ismail Saymaz and publisher Songul Ozkan, moderated by Turkish PA General Secretary Kenan Kocaturk. Speakers reflected their perspective of the main obstacles against freedom to publish in Turkey, touching upon their personal experiences. The panel was welcomed by a crowded audience, around 250 reader followed the speeches... read more

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Turkish Publishers Association and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.