Turkey: A prolonged tragedy for theatre

Students protesting the dismissal of their professors with presidential decrees in Ankara University.  Photo: haber.sol.org.tr   The level of suppression against art in Turkey can only be grasped by going deep into details and history. Sacking of 4,464 public servants including 330 academics sounds alarming, but knowing it also meant the practical closing down of […]

INSIGHT 2016 publication: Targeting the arts

» Read on issuu.com Targeting the arts INSIGHT articles about controversies and conflicts over art in 2016 Documenting incidents of censorship will never be enough. From the very beginning, Freemuse has attempted to describe censorship of music and arts in a larger context. In 2015 we introduced INSIGHT – a series of articles providing readers with […]

Austria/Turkey: Concert cancelled, song banned related to referendum vote

As Turkey gears up for a constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017, steps have been taken at home and abroad to influence voters that have also affected art and artists. In the south eastern province of Şırnak, the local government banned song ‘Bejin Na’ (Say No), the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) official referendum campaign […]

Turkey: Artist sentenced to two years and ten months in prison

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was sentenced to two years, nine months and 22 days imprisonment for her painting showing the destruction by Turkish security forces of the Kurdish city of Mardin in the Nusaybin district, reported Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on 6 March 2017. While on assignment for the all-female news agency JINHA […]

Turkey: Two mayors ban Kurdish director’s film

Two Turkish mayors have imposed bans on Kurdish director Mahsun Kırmızıgül’s latest film  ‘Vezir Parmağı’ because they say it “undermines national and spiritual values” and the is considered to be a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “sympathiser”, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 2 February 2017. Anamur district mayor Mehmet Ture said he wouldn’t let a film […]

Turkey: Detained artist released, awaiting trial

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was released from Turkey’s Mardin Women’s Prison on 9 December 2016 after having been arrested and detained on 21 July 2016 on charges of being a “member of an illegal organisation”. Though free, Doğan will face trial in Febraury 2017, reported IFEX on 21 December 2016. Prosecutors used […]

Turkey: Two sculptures removed after protests

City officials removed a sculpture from outside the A Plus shopping mall in the western part of Istanbul just two days after it went up after a “big crowd” protested the work, reported Artnet on 29 December 2016. Ahmet Güneştekin’s word sculpture featuring the old name for Istanbul – Konstantiniyye – in large, colourful block […]

Turkey: Novelist released on probation after 132 days of detention

Novelist Aslı Erdoğan was released from prison on 29 December 2016 after 132 days of being held in pre-trial detention on charges of terror propaganda due to her affiliation, as an advisory board member, to newspaper Özgür Gündem, reported The Guardian on 30 December 2016. The writer was released on probation, pending trial. If convicted, […]

Artsfreedom newsletter: Turkey – The Freemuse Files

News and knowledge about artistic freedom of expression   View this email in your browser Turkey – The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts As President Tayyip Erdogan continues to tighten his grip on power and thousands of academics, activists, journalists, judges and teachers have been arrested or lost their jobs, we are once […]

Turkey: The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts

For almost 20 years, Freemuse has documented violations on freedom of musical expressions and since 2012 also violations on other art forms in Turkey. ‘Turkey – The Freemuse Files’ is the first in a series of Freemuse compilations. The idea is to provide our readers, network partners and policy makers with an easy, quick overview […]

Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

Turkish police arrested seven members of famous folk band Grup Yorum on 23 November 2016 on charges of assault, resisting and insulting police, and being members of a terrorist group, reported Birgün on 24 November 2016. Grup Yorum’s lawyer Aytaç Ünsal told the Turkish newspaper: Even 3 days after they were initially taken into custody, […]

France: Art installation defaced by Turkish MP assistant

A 1,000-photo-collage art installation at the Council of Europe (CoE) headquarters in Strasbourg, France, was defaced by the parliamentary assistant of a Turkish member of the Assembly when they sliced off the “edited and toned down” version of the infamous Danish Prophet Muhammad cartoon, reported The Malta Independent on 14 October 2016. Norbert Francis Attard, […]

Germany: Prosecutors drop investigation in Turkish president insult case

Due to insufficient evidence, German prosecutors dropped an investigation into German comedian Jan Böhmermann who was accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an “obscene” poem he recited on his satirical show on ZDF public television in March 2016, reported BBC on 4 October 2016. In a statement, the prosecutors said their investigation had […]

Turkey: Writer and brother detained on alleged coup-related charges

Prominent Turkish writer Ahmet Altan and his brother, academic and columnist Mehmet Altan, were detained by polce on 10 September 2016 for questioning on alleged coup-related charges that the brothers, according to the prosecutor’s office, “gave subliminal messages suggesting a military coup” on a TV programme that aired on 14 July 2016, a day before […]

Turkey: Court acquits musician of blasphemy charges after four-year ordeal

An Istanbul court acquitted pianist Fazıl Say on 7 September 2016 of blasphemy charges after a four-year legal battle stemming from a 2012 post he re-tweeted consisting of lines written by 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 7 September 2016. The pianist went to trial in October 2012 after three […]

Turkey: The coup still continues for the art scene

The state of emergency following the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 resulted in increased pressure against artists. The already-ongoing attack against freedom of art has accelerated after the coup attempt. Artists are trying to keep their heads up under the pressure, while the government is planting the seeds for a total transformation […]

Turkey: Writer arrested amidst crackdown after coup attempt

Turkish police arrested novelist Aslı Erdoğan on 16 August 2016 in a raid on her apartment after a Turkish court ordered the temporary closure of newspaper Özgür Gündem. Erdoğan is on the advisory board of the newspaper. The closure is part of an intense state-of-emergency crackdown in response to a failed coup attempt on 15 […]

Turkey: Singer’s concerts cancelled due to coup-related remarks

The Turkish government cancelled four concerts by pop star Sıla Gençoğlu over comments she made about a democracy rally held in Istanbul on 7 August 2016 in the aftermath of an attempted coup that happened a month earlier, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 11 August 2016.  “I am absolutely against the coup, but I prefer […]

Turkey: Music fans attacked at Radiohead store event

Music fans enjoying a special worldwide release event on 17 June 2016 for rock band Radiohead’s latest album at record store Velvet Indieground in the Cihangir district of Istanbul were attacked by a mob of about 20 men who took offense to people listening to music and drinking alcohol during Ramadan, reported The Guardian 18 […]

Turkey: Local man smashes “obscene” sculpture

A wooden sculpture by Amancio Gonzalez Andres entitled ‘Musician’ featured at the Izmirspor metro station in western Turkey was smashed by a local man who called the statue “obscene”, Hurriyet News reported on 27 May 2016. Sculptor Andres told Birgün newspaper on 27 May 2016 he condemned the attack on his art piece and that […]

Germany: Court bans two-thirds of satirical poem mocking Turkish president

A Hamburg court on 17 May 2016 banned the re-publication of 18 lines of a 24-line satirical poem written by German comedian Jan Böhmermann criticising Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as they were deemed to be “abusive and libellous”, reported The Telegraph on 17 May 2016. The court said it had to strike a balance […]

Turkey: “Music that sexually turns on people is a sin”

Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdoğan’s rule. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on ‘sexual’ music. The latest victim of this arbitrary repression is an imam who runs a rockband and opposes the Directorate’s fatwa from a religious perspective. By Yiğit Günay […]

Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries. In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of […]

Turkey: Art exhibitions cancelled, a troubling trend

Turkey continues to repress artists from expressing their thoughts and ideas under the guise of a variety of concerns, including national security.  Visual artists, gallery owners, curators and collectives are having their works shut down or are choosing to self-censor under intense pressure from authorities and social groups. Sara Whyatt explains one of the recent […]

Turkey: How Erdoğan turned the tables on the EU to stifle free speech

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demands that comedian Jan Böhmermann be prosecuted under Germany’s own laws criminalising insult to foreign heads of state because he has read out an offensive poem. The existence of this law has clearly taken Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German judiciary by surprise, but Merkel sees that she has no […]

Germany: Turkey attempts to stop EU funding orchestra performance

Markus Rindt, the director of the Dresden Symphony, has claimed that Turkey has demanded the European Commission (EC) pull its 200,000 Euros funding from the ‘Aghet’ art project, in which his orchestra will perform a piece on 30 April 2016 marking the 101-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, reported The Independent on 25 April 2016. […]

Turkey: Baby donkeys, insults and presidents

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is notorious for bringing thousands of his citizens, including many artists, up on insult charges ever since he took power in 2014. Freemuse continues to report on the president’s repression of artistic expression; and while he currently tries to force another country – Germany – to do the same on his behalf, artists […]

Germany: Comedian faces potential prosecution for criticising Turkish president

German comedian Jan Böhmermann’s satirical and controversial poem criticising Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not only pushed the boundaries of humour, but has also propelled political debate between the two nations and called into question the values of freedom of expression. The poem, which Böhmermann read on his public broadcaster ZDF television programme ‘Neo […]

Turkey: Actress’ contract cancelled over interview comments

Actress Füsun Demirel was removed from the cast of tv-series ‘The Family Business’ after saying in an interview with newspaper Cumhuriyet on 13 March 2016 that she would like to play a role related to the guerrilla girls, reported newspaper Radikal on 16 March 2016. Demirel’s comments were made when the newspaper asked her what […]

Turkey: ‘Rocking imam’ blocked from singing in Portugal

Turkish imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer has been denied permission to give a concert in Portugal by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, reported several news media on 1 March 2016. Known in Turkey as the “Rockin’ Imam”, Ahmet Muhsin is the imam in the town of Kas, a tiny hamlet on […]

Turkey: Children’s play banned due to “inappropriate” song

A play that has been staged for children for the last 14 years was banned in the Çankaya District Directorate of Education of Turkey’s capital Ankara for having one song deemed “inappropriate”, reported Today’s Zaman on 14 January 2016. Playwright Serap Gültekin told newspaper Radikal that the application to stage her play ‘My Chess Pieces’ […]

Turkey: Blasphemy ruling reversed for pianist Say

Pianist Fazıl Say may no longer face a ten-month jail sentence for blasphemy charges related to his tweets as Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the decision, saying his social media posts fall within the realm of freedom of expression, Hurriyet Daily News reported. The court ruled by majority – four to one – that […]

Turkey: EU and UN address Turkey’s troublesome arts freedom record

Significant shortcomings in the promotion of democracy and human rights feature highly in the European Commission’s 2015 Progress Report on Turkey, which points to ‘significant backsliding’ on protection of freedom of expression in the last two years after several years of progress. By Sara Whyatt   The report refers to a worrying number of writers […]

Turkey: Tensions between film festivals and government take toll

The film festival circuit in Turkey has been among the most visible casualties as the increasingly authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AK-Party) fights to stay in power, reported the film magazine Variety. Simmering tensions between artists and the government came to a head at the Antalya film festival in October 2014, as officials sought to […]

Turkey: Actor dismissed from theatre over criticism of government

Actor Levent Üzümcü has been dismissed from the İstanbul City Theatre after he was recently referred to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s disciplinary board over a series of statements and speeches he made criticising the government. Üzümcü announced the disciplinary board’s decision to fire him on his Twitter account, writing: “I am very thankful that, as […]

Turkey: Festival director steps down after censorship scandal

Azize Tan has stepped down after nine years following protests over censorship at the latest edition in April, which led to the cancellation of the festival’s competitions and closing ceremony. » Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.screendaily.com » Artsfreedom.org – 16 April 2015: Turkey: Film festival censorship controversy and cancellations

Turkey: Court reverses Governor’s ban on concert in Istanbul

The famous Turkish folk music band Grup Yorum celebrated its 30th anniversary with a concert in Istanbul on 28 June 2015, even though the first two attempts to organise this concert earlier in the year were banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office. The ban was eventually reversed by a court decision, so that on 28 […]

Turkey: Opposing views perceived as insult

New report on publishing in Turkey reveals hard line state policy Turkey is going through a time in history whereby the concept of ‘criticism’ has lost its substance,” according to a new report from Turkish Publishers Association. The report sums up that “any opinion opposing the views and positions of the politically powerful and not […]

Turkey: Artists under pressure – a year of trials and penalties

Yesterday, Turkey’s voters headed towards the ballot boxes to place their votes in the 7 June general elections. As the election day approached, threats to the media, both veiled and overt, were in the air. This was not entirely unexpected, given that Turkey’s poor record of protection of the right to freedom of expression is well-known. […]

Turkey: ‘Organisation propaganda’ charge against children’s books

An investigation was opened against 24 books published by Aram Publishing within the last year with reasons of “organisation propaganda” and “recruiting members for an organisation,” according to the 15 May 2015 issue of the weekly Freedom of Expression bulletin from Turkish Initiative for Freedom of Expression. A case was opened by Diyarbakir 5th High […]

Turkey: 19-year-old singer attacked after threats

After appearing on the Turkish talent show Sesi Çok Güzel on national tv, the 19-year-old singer Mutlu Kaya reportedly received death threats and was attacked in her home, reported Agence France-Presse and Hurriyet on 18 May 2015. The assailant fired a bullet into the house through a back window in the garden, and Mutlu Kaya […]

Turkey: Young Kurdish singer imprisoned

Al Jazeera has published a video by a Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker about the Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak. The singer’s future is uncertain, because the Turkish government allegedly has convicted her to 10.5 years imprisonment for “promoting Kurdish propaganda”, according to Al Jazeera. Published on Youtube on 30 April 2015 Maker of the documentary film, Eylem Kaftan, […]

Turkey: Izmir Opera cancellation of ‘Carmina Burana’ sparks censorship concerns

Censorship allegations concerning Turkey’s state-run art institutions have taken a new turn with the İzmir State Opera and Ballet’s removal of “Carmina Burana” from its repertoire at the last minute, two days before the world-famous cantata was set to be performed at the Ahmed Adnan Saygun Arts Center in an evening performance on Saturday 2 […]

Turkey: Film festival censorship controversy and cancellations

Solidarity and debate about censorship in cinema have arisen within the Turkish film industry, instigated by the culture ministry’s ban of the film ‘Bakur’ / ‘Kuzey’ (The North) at Istanbul International Film Festival. The makers of 23 domestic Turkish films withdrew their movies from this year’s 34th İstanbul International Film Festival on 12 April 2015 […]

Russia, China and Turkey top yearly list of music freedom violations

Freemuse monitored and documented violations of freedom of expression for musicians on www.freemuse.org in 2014. Musicians around the world are facing imprisonment, attacks, and censorship in attempts by government and non-state actors to silence the music. In 2014, Freemuse registered a total number of 90 attacks and violations against musicians’ rights to musical freedom of expression. […]

Turkey: Legal breakthrough in favour of prosecuted singer Ferhat Tunç

The European Court of Human Rights has convicted Turkey of violating freedom of speech in the case of singer Ferhat Tunç. A Turkish court had sentenced Ferhat Tunç to three months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine for having made dissident comments during a concert. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) […]

Turkey: Government reported to the UN Council on Human Rights

Artists, activists and journalists respond to Turkey’s presentation to the UN Council on Human Rights Universal Periodic Review   On 27 January 2015, Bülent Arinç, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, delivered a report on the state of human rights in Turkey to the United Nations Council on Human Rights. Arinç, accompanied by a delegation of […]

Turkey: Broadcasters fined for airing music video scenes of sexuality

The Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) has fined two music tv channels for airing music videos with scenes of sexuality, reported Hurriyet Daily News. RTÜK fined Genç TV for broadcasting the music video of Elliphant’s song ‘One More’, which features a scene of two women kissing. RTÜK also fined Power TV for […]

Turkey: Charges against musician of insult to prime minister

On 16 January 2015 an investigation was opened against folk music artist Kutsal Evcimen because of insulting the prime minister of the time, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the folk song ‘Satın Eşek Sıpaları’ which he sang – and with a short speech he made – during Malatya 11th International Arguvan Folk Music Festival. The Initiative for Free […]

Freemuse co-hosts UN Universal Periodic Review session on Turkey

Freemuse and several Turkish partners are hosting a joint event in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 January 2015 for artists and freedom of expression activists and media. The participants will watch a live web-cast from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva as it reviews the human rights situation in Turkey. On 27 January 2015, […]

Turkey: Tv-drama and theatre directors arrested in crackdown

“Scores of media figures” were detained in a police raid on 14 December 2014, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Tv-drama producer Salih Asan, director Engin Koç and scriptwriter Makbule Çam Alemdağ were among the detained. Salih Asan was the producer of a controversial tv-drama called ‘Şefkat Tepe’ (literally translated as ‘Affection Hill’) which depicted the Prophet […]

Turkey: Many artists bow to censorship orders, says theatre director

According to the veteran Turkish stage actor and director Genco Erkal many artists in Turkey are bowing to censorship orders from municipal or state officials “because they want to be able to draw on opportunities offered by municipalities.” “Many fellow [actors] comply with terms imposed by municipalities just so they can receive funds,” Genco Erkal […]

Norwegian PEN publishes report about freedom of expression in Turkey

The Norwegian PEN has published a special report titled ‘Turkey: Free Expression Under a Shadow’. In the 60-page report, data and information related to violations of freedom of expression, the effects of the judicial system and the law on freedom of expression, self-censorship, the pressure on press, hate speech and freedom of religion and conscience […]

Turkey abuse laws to punish artists challenging authorities

Law suits, arrests, threats and banning orders, these are all dangers that artists in Turkey who touch on sensitive issues face today. This is pointed out by the UPR submission that Freemuse, Siyah Bant and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression has forwarded to the UN. The Turkish Anti Terror Law (TMK) continues to be […]

Turkey: Imam given go ahead to make rock‘n’roll

A Turkish imam, Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, has been allowed to rock on after the country’s powerful religious authorities gave him the green light to continue playing in his band after a nine-month investigation. Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, a Muslim religious leader from a tiny hamlet on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, was investigated by the Diyanet, the state […]

Turkey: Protests against proposed arts council

Turkish artists and arts organisations fear that a new draft bill prepared by the Erdoğan government will serve as a tool for the government to crack down on free expression of artistic work, creativity and cultural themes The bill is seen as a tool to give the government the absolute power to shape the arts […]

Turkey: Artistic freedom of expression under threat

A piece of art was censored in November 2013 during the exhibition titled ‘Will There Be An Intervention?’ at the 23rd Istanbul Art Fair. The exhibit was primarily focused on works of art inspired by the Gezi Park protests, and it included many secular-minded domestic and foreign artists. The censored piece was a portrait of […]

Turkey: World writers call on Turkey to respect freedom of expression

Leading writers from Turkey and around the world have joined PEN, the international association of writers, to call on the Turkish authorities to respect freedom of expression as a universal and fundamental human right, and to create an environment in which all citizens are able to express themselves freely without fear of censorship or punishment. […]

Turkey: ‘Nymphomaniac’ movie by Von Trier banned

Turkey has banned the Danish director’s latest film from screening in its theatres, saying the film can be classified as pornography due to its graphic content. Actor Christian Slater is baffled by Turkey’s ban on his new movie “Nymphomaniac,” but insists his own daughter will never see the controversial Lars Von Trier movie. » See on […]

Turkey: Report about freedom of expression violations

In the aftermath of a brutal government crackdown on dissent during the Gezi Park protests, PEN has prepared a report highlighting some of the issues raised by the nationwide protest movement ‘The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’ is a joint report published by English PEN and PEN International. In […]

UK: Four artists shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards 2014

British theatre producer David Cecil, Lebanese playwright Lucien Bourjeily, Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud and the Turkish writer Arikan are shortlisted for the Index Awards 2014, which during 14 years have honoured some of the most remarkable fighters for free expression from around the world. The award show takes place in London, United Kingdom, on 20 […]

Turkey: Musicians of Grup Yorum plan hunger strike

Members of the popular Turkish band Grup Yorum announced that they are planning to stage a hunger strike to protest a government ‘assault on the arts’, according to a press release issued on 14 February 2014. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) “is targeting all artists that oppose it. They are closing theatres, […]

Artist Alert: December 2013 and January 2014 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on article19.org on 12 February 2014: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç joins Freemuse at conference

The Turkish singer Ferhat Tunç will join Freemuse Director Ole Reitov on 12 February 2014 at an international conference ‘Freedom of Speech – Perspectives and Initiatives’ in Uppsala, Sweden. Ferhat Tunç, a Freemuse Award winner, has faced dozens of court cases in Turkey. He is considered one of the most important voices for the rights […]

Turkey: New optimism for Kurdish culture though pending cases remain unresolved

A new report from the organisation Siyah Bant, ‘Freedom of Expression in the Arts and Censorship in Kurdish Region Diyarbakir, Batman’, monitors violations on artistic freedom and concludes that despite the Turkish government’s proclaimed reform efforts much remains to be seen. In November 2013, exiled kurdish musician Şivan Perwer was invited to return to Turkey […]

Turkey: Playwright and author exiled after death threats

In the days after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, Turkish playwright and author Meltem Arikan found herself at the centre of a government-led hate campaign that left her fearing for her life. Arikan, now living in the United Kingdom, left Turkey because of the vicious and sustained campaign against her on social media and […]

Turkey: ‘Rock‘n’roll Imam’ under investigation

Turkish authorities are investigating whether the imam of a Mediterranean mosque, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, can continue his rock band, or whether the genre is incompatible with Islam. “I have heard that the decision will come in two to three weeks,” Tuzer said by telephone from Pinarkoy. Whatever the verdict will be, “I will continue to […]

Turkey: TV watchdog fines Turkey’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ over sexual innuendo

Turkey’s television watchdog, RTÜK, has fined the Turkish version of the Desperate Housewives series over an innuendo associating dessert with sex. One of the main female characters in the serial touched her husband in a recent episode while saying, “We will have dessert after dinner,” which disturbed the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), which moved […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç concert interrupted by protesters and power cut

A group of protesters intervened in folk singer Ferhat Tunç’s concert by singing the Turkish national anthem. The concert was organised by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Dikili, Izmir. Following a power cut in the concert area, Ferhat Tunç ended the concert saying he would keep singing freedom songs. Clashes broke out between […]

Turkey: Imam who is also a musician receives threats

Imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer gave a concert with a repertoire composed entirely by himself at Kaş Marina on 10 August 2013. After the concert was reported by the press, he began to receive threatening and insulting messages. ‘Imam led the prayer before concert | Rocker Imam Ahmet’. Published on youtube.com on 11 […]

Turkey: PEN International: Trial against writer deeply flawed

PEN International is concerned that writer Mustafa Balbay was sentenced to an extremely lengthy prison term on 5 August 2013, after conviction in the “Ergenekon trial” that PEN International considers to have been deeply flawed and to have fallen far short of international fair trial standards. The organisation is also concerned that government critics such […]

Turkey: Actor allegedly persecuted by newspaper

“My life is not secure, I have applied for protection through my lawyers,” said the Turkish actor Memet Ali Alabora who directed and acted himself in a theatre piece entitled ‘Mi Minör’ to support the protestors around Gezi in Istanbul. Yeni Şafak newspaper made an extensive coverage on Mi Minör, saying that it was the […]

Turkey: Persecuted folk band Grup Yorum in centre of attention

The development in Turkey has given the Istanbul-based folk music band Group Yorum new fame and publicity around the world. On 18 June, Group Yorum signed a statement along with many other Turkish musicians who condemn police violence and what they term as “the government’s abuse of power in Turkey”. Rumors are circulating that the […]

Turkey: Artists change the face of protests with ‘silent standing’

In Istanbul, an artist started a ‘silent standing’ protest, which has spread quickly to other places around the world, and is getting international attention and support. ‘Standing Man’ has even surprised the Turkish police, reported Antenna.tr in the newsletter Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 21 June 2013. As police was not allowing people to […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazil Say sentenced for Twitter posts

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was given a 10 month suspended jail sentence for blasphemy by the 19th Criminal Court in Istanbul on April 15 2013 after retweeting an ancient poem on Twitter. Fazil Say, 42, was found guilty of violating Article 216 (3) of the Turkish Criminal Code, which prohibits  the ‘denigration of the […]

Turkey: Ban on books in prison cells: max ten

It is no longer allowed to have more than ten books in a cell in Turkey’s high-security prisons, the so-called ‘Type F prisons’ (F tipi cezaevi). Inmates and detainees who are intellectuals and political prisoners have reacted strongly against the ban on books, and they have launched an indefinite hunger strike against the decision. The […]

Turkey: Short-lived freedom for three books, poem censored

“Despite the ban on book lifted under Judicial Pack 3, nine days after the legal statutory period, three books by Umut Publishing were decided to be confiscated,” wrote Antenna TR in the Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 1 March 2013. İstanbul 3rd Magistrate assigned to Anti-terrorism Law (TMK) Article 10 has decided to confiscate […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazıl Say in court for the second time

The celebrated Turkish pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will be appearing in court for the second time on Monday 18 February 2013. Fazıl Say is on trial for some comments he posted on Twitter and is charged for blasphemy and insulting religious values, with a possible 18-month prison prison sentence. (More about the charges […]

Turkey: Short play focuses on sidestepping of freedom of speech

Turkey experiences an increased sidestepping of the freedom of speech, writes Swedish PEN’s Dissident Blog which has published a theme issue with 12 texts about Turkey, including a short play, entitled ‘Forbidden Chirping’, by artist and poet Yeşim Ağaoğlu. Yeşim Ağaoğlu belongs to the new generation of leading artists and poets in Turkey who are […]

Turkey: Protests after Grup Yorum concert was banned

A concert with the Kurdish folk ensemble Grup Yorum which was planned to be performed at Olympic Sports Hall in Bağcılar, İstanbul, was cancelled in the last minute. Group members and a crowd of 500 protested against the cancellation at Bağcılar Yavuzselim district. Police arrived to disperse the protesters but were met with resistance. “They […]

Turkey: Ban on 453 books lifted – new bans on the way

Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor for Press, Kürşat Kayral, decided after an investigation that a ban on 453 books, 645 newspapers, periodicals, brochures, and banners should be lifted, wrote the Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin in its 49th issue on 7 December 2012. Under the Third Judicial Pack arrangements by the Turkish Government, publishing, distributing and […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç’s prison sentence turned into speaking ban

On 27 June 2012, Dersim Malatya Third High Criminal Court sentenced singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison for having promoted İbrahim Kaypakkaya in a speech he held on 1 May 2011. According to new legal rearrangements, the sentence has now been turned into a three year ban on speaking about the same subject. […]

Turkey: Authorities’ persecution of Kurdish artists continues

The first hearing of the court case against four members of Grup Yorum along with nine others who are charged with ‘membership of and propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, DHKP-C, was held at İstanbul No. 15 High Criminal Court. In a defense statement Ayfer Rüzgar said that the accusations simply can be seen as an […]

Silencing Music in Turkey – a briefing on the past 12 months

Silencing Music in Turkey 2012: 18-pages PDF document This leaflet with updates on violations of musical expression in Turkey in the past 12 months was published in October 2012 by the Initiative for Freedom of Expression in Istanbul, Turkey, and distributed at the first World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression, ‘All That is Banned […]

Turkey: Court case against pianist adjourned until February

Turkish pianist Fazil Say appeared in court in Istanbul but the court adjourned his case until 18 February 2013. Fazil Say is charged with inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims because of some Twitter posts, some of which he didn’t write himself, but simply forwarded. Fazil Say denied the charges in front of […]

Turkey: Grup Yorum members allegedly tortured in custody

A singer and a violinist with the left-wing band Grup Yorum claim they were tortured in police custody after they were detained during an unauthorized demonstration in İstanbul’s Yenibosna neighborhood. Grup Yorum vocalist Sema Altın and violinist Ezgi Dilan were taken into custody after they had participated in protests in front of the Council of […]

Turkey: Theatre journal banned from city library

The Academic Journal of Mimesis on Theatre Translation and Research has been banned from a city library in Turkey because it is found to be ‘obscene’. The journal Mimesis is delivered to city and town libraries in Turkey by the country’s Ministry of Culture. The formal brief sent by Elazığ City Library Administrator, Ahmet Pirinççi, […]

Turkey: Court case against ‘obscene’ books postponed three years

On 5 July 2012 at the Çağlayan Courts of Justice in İstanbul, a judge set aside expert opinion that would have ended the trials against the publishers of the Turkish editions of William Burroughs’ ‘The Soft Machine’ and Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Snuff’. Instead they, and the books’ translators, face three more years of uncertainty after the […]

Turkey: Singer Ferhat Tunç sentenced to two years in prison

A court in the eastern province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation during a speech in 2011 where he mentioned names of three deceased Turkish leftists, reported BIA News Center on 27 June 2012. During the May 1st celebrations […]

Turkey: Acclaimed pianist charged for blasphemy

Turkish composer and pianist Fazil Say faces trial on 18 October 2012 on charges of insulting religious values, with a possible 18-month prison sentence, his lawyer Meltem Akyol told news agencies in Istanbul.  Fazil Say has long been a controversial artist in Turkey. He is a classical musician who declares himself an atheist in a […]

Turkey: Prime Minister will not tolerate criticism from state funded theatres

The Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens to withdraw state support from the country’s 22 city theatres after his daughter said she was insulted by an actor during a play. What some are calling “Turkey’s culture war” began in April 2011 when the prime minister’s youngest daughter, Sümeyye Erdogan, 30, walked out of a […]

Another legal action against Turkish singer Pınar Aydınlar

The following was published by Antenna-TR in its Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin Issue 19/2012 on 11 May 2012: A lawsuit was filed against folk singer Pınar Aydınlar (also known as Pinar Sağ) and the Group Munzur members Özlem Gerçek and Erkan Duman demanding between one and five years of imprisonment for terrorist organisational propaganda […]

Turkey: Protest against political interference at Istanbul City Theatre

A controversy over an allegedly obscene play has been used by Istanbul’s mayor to take artistic control of its municipal theatres. Actors took to the streets of Istanbul in protest – with banners that read, “Oh Sultan! Take your hands off theatres!” The municipality of Istanbul wanted to remove a play from the city’s theatre […]

Turkey: Municipality censored theatre decor

According to the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, Tiyatrokare’s play ‘Onca Yoksulluk Varken’ was censored by Erzurum municipality in Turkey. Founder of the theatre Nedim Saban stated that the play was censored because of a “Down with Fascism” prop. Hürriyet’s reporter Gülbahar Karakuş quoted Nedim Saban as saying: “Unfortunately the play was censored because of its props. […]



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