ÇEVBİR – The Association of Translators in Turkey, condemns the arrests of intellectuals and the climate of intimidation
Turkey is currently witnessing a period as dark as that of the oppressive regimes which have left so many scars on its history. The Anti-Terrorist Law considers anyone or any organization criticizing the existing system to be a potential terrorist. The expression of an opinion, or facilitating the expression of an opinion, is deemed a crime.Under this legislation, journalists, students, academics, writers, artists,translators, and lawyers are being detained. All segments of public opinion are alarmed by the unlawful and irrational arguments and evidence being put forward.Since the files of those illicitly detained are declared 'secret,' the detainees are not even aware of the charges against them. They are thus deprived of the fundamental right to defend themselves. Almost from the outset, they are branded 'criminals.' Subjected to long periods of detention, they undergo their ‘punishment’ before they are even brought to trial.
The present practices are not being implemented under martial law with its fascist rules,but under the regime of an 'advanced democracy,' with leaders elected according to the principles of representative democracy. The Turkish state has eagerly embraced the idea of being the 'role model for democratic government in the Middle East,' assigned to it by western states; it teaches lessons in 'democracy' to neighboring countries ruled by dictators, and unequivocally condemns these states’ militarist practices. However, the way Turkey is treating its own people is reminiscent of the terror of the coup of 12 September 1980 and its aftermath. In publicly denouncing people from different segments in society as 'terrorists' without grounds, the government is becoming the principal instigator of terrorism. For years, the state has been incapable of bringing to court the murderers of Hrant Dink, a journalist-writer of Armenian origin, who was killed in broad daylight in the middle of the street in 2007; other murder cases are shrouded in silence, their perpetrators said to be 'unknown,' even though the identities of the murderers are common knowledge. Just days ago, the Turkish state took the lives of 35 villagers, most of them still children, in Uludere, a town at the Iraqi border, in the name of 'combating terrorism.' Yet when it comes to launching investigations and legal procedures on nebulous grounds, with the aim of silencing dissenting voices and imprisoning people almost en masse, Turkey does not hesitate a moment.
In a recent speech, the Minister of Interior Affairs referred to artists and intellectuals,academics, people working for NGOs, and citizens with a different religious or sexual orientation as potential criminals, thereby making them a target. This, combined with the exponential increase in the number of journalists and writers who have recently been detained and arrested, clearly shows that an atmosphere of intimidation is being created, with the aim of hindering all organizations and individuals active in the media and the publishing industry, in culture, art,civil society and the defense of rights, from executing their professions and activities.
ÇEVBİR, theAssociation of Translators in Turkey, demands an immediate halt to the witch hunt against artists and intellectuals, human rights activists, and, ultimately, civil society as a whole – i.e. people who protect and create the values that societies have adopted for centuries by expressing truths that the authorities are attempting to stifle; it demands the complete abolition of the laws, regulations and practices that restrict and destroy freedom of the press, of opinion and of expression; and it reminds people everywhere that even if men and women are imprisoned, ideas and souls will always be free. We therefore adopt the smile that journalist Zeynep Kuray wore as she went to prison as the best response to the climate of fear and repression that is being fomented.
ÇEVBİR - Association of Translators in Turkey
Istanbul, January 6, 2012