The following is a statement issued by the Ankara Freedom of Thought Initiative (AFTI) in support of Ismail Besikci, recently accused of ‘PKK propaganda’ by the attorney general in Istanbul, Turkey, for words he wrote in an article. AFTI organized an academic conference on the Armenian Genocide and reparations in Ankara on April 24-25. Besikci, a prominent writer, was one of the participants.
Ismail Besikçi Is Being Tried Once More …
Enough! Edi Bese! Ya Basta!
Each and every part of the regime seems to have sworn to plague the life of the Kurds and defenders of the brotherhood of peoples on the basis of equality and freedom, after the fiasco of the “democratization” attempts of the party in power, the Party of Justice and Development.
The banning of the Kurdish party, the Party of Democratic Society; the broadcasted imprisonment of the elected local representatives of the Kurds; cases against Kurdish elementary school students on charges of “adherence to terrorist organization”; the implacable persecution of Kurdish magazines and papers; the spreading of a mentality that treats each and every Kurd as a “potential terrorist,” are all alarming signs which signify that the country is headed towards a new—and more grave, we fear, than those lived before—hell.
And these signs show that the target is not the PKK (as claimed on every occasion by those who govern), but the rights of Kurds to exist as they are: Kurds. The last of these signs is the charge brought by the attorney general of Istanbul against Dr. Ismail Besikci for “PKK propaganda” following the publication of his article entitled, “The rights of the nations to self-determination and the Kurds,” in the “Association of Contemporary Lawyers.”
The attorney general of Istanbul claimed that “Ismail Hoca” (as he is popularly known within progressive circles) was “propagating the PKK cause” when he wrote: “The Kurds have been fighting for freedom, for a free land for the last 200 years; and they are paying the price… Syria, Iran, and Turkey are dominating over the Kurds with an iron hand… The states that dominate over the Kurds were always able to unite their political, ideological, diplomatic, and military powers against them. It is obvious that this common control does not create justice but is a constant violation of it. In these conditions, resistance against oppression is a legitimate right…”
The absurdity of accusing someone who has openly criticized the leadership of the PKK of “PKK propaganda” aside, the fact that such a case has been opened demonstrates the threat against the freedom and expression of thought in Turkey. What the attorney general demands to be penalized is not “PKK propaganda” but the freedom of thought and expression; and this demonstrates clearly, once again, how willing the ruling class is to violate the limited frame of rights and liberties it has agreed to accept.
We, the signers of this petition, are certain that it is not possible to lock up the brilliant mind and pen of Dr. Besikci. He already has spent 17 years of his life in prison, and will willingly venture another 17, for the sake of telling what he holds to be the truth.
Our rebellion is against the calcified reflexes of this regime, whose immediate reaction is to imprison those who do not agree with its dogmas, those divergent voices. Against the unceasing recounting of the same horror by the rulers, while “prisoners of conscience” have reached the fifth generation in this country. Against the incompetent despotism of the non-discussion of every alternative proposition on the accumulated problems of this country.
For this reason, we announce that we proudly espouse each and every word, each and every sentence, of Dr. Besikci’s, for which he is being tried, and that we will be with him and with the barrister Zeycan Balci Simsek, the editor of the magazine, for their first hearing scheduled for 9:10 a.m. on July 28, at the 11th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, and throughout all subsequent hearings.
The Ankara Initiative for the Freedom of Thought
Fikret Baskaya, Sibel Ozbudun, Temel Demirer, Sait Cetinoglu, Mahmut Konuk, Mustafa Kahya, Fatime Akalin, Pinar Omeroglu, Serdar Koçman, Ragip Zarakolu, Attila Tuygan, Ayse Gunaysu, Cemil Gundogan, Faruk Arhan, Altan Açikdilli, Bawer Cakir, Necati Abay, Leman Yurtsever, Baskin Oran, Recep Marasli, Emrah Cilasun, Ulvi Bacioglu, Mehmet Ozer.