Ismail Besikci Is Being Tried Once More

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.


  1. As an Armenian, I listen closely and hear the drumbeat of pre-genocidal suppression and oppression coming to the Kurds.  Despite the fact that Kurds participated in the massacres against Armenians during the Genocide, I still feel solidarity with them as people oppressed by Turkish domination and paranoia.  I support them in their struggle for equality and self-determination.  I hope that one day we can live as neighbors with, mutual respect, on our traditional homelands. I can’t believe that it is our destiny to be forgotten by the world and relegated to unending injustice.  Armenians and Kurds have the burden of bringing awareness of Turkey’s inhumanity toward non-ethnic Turkish citizens to the nations and calling for justice and basic human rights.  I wish it wasn’t so, but we must pick up our cross and carry on in faith.

  2. Ismail Besikci is a wonderful and most humble person you could ever meet.
    I had the priveledge and pleasure of meeting him in Ankara at a mutual friend’s home last April.
    He has sent 17 years in prison for defending Kurdish rights when citizens were not even allowed to refer to Kurds using the “K” word.
    He was nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Price in 1987 for his humanitarian work.
    I wish the best for Ismail for he is a person who defends the human rights of all people, Armenians included.

  3. .I recall in the 1970’s listening to a radio discussion’ where an unknown and unsung electronic geek was predicting the demise and end of communism. His reasoning was that the newly emerging electronics of that time,  would spell the end of radio jamming by the Soviets, and that freely available information, would result in a mass change of heart and thus the end of Communism. He was right.
    Now I predict that technology will advance to a point where, it will nullify every military technological advance. I can see a future where billion dollar planes are rendered inoperative by a hand held device. Cheap technology will be the great eqalizer.
    There is hope for us still.

  4. Although I agree with Boyajian on some of the Kurds participating in the Armenian Genocides.  Kurds are nomadic and it may have been some of their gypsy bandits that participated.  However, today 60,000 Kurds live in Armenia where they enjoy their own freedoms, they have their own publication. 
    Every year on the aniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Kurdish population of Armenia most graciously brings a reef and apologizes for the Kurds who particpated in these terrible atrocities.
    Ironically, it is the Kurds that dominate and live in our old villages and homes.  Even taking some of our old churches and making them into Goat Stalls.  I believe the Turks that told Kurds to carry out the murders promised them whatever they killed, robbed or raped was theirs, keep the Armenian’s homes, wives, clothes, children, etc., 
    Why is it that people sometimes find themselves staring down the barrel of the gun that they have helped to enable?

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