Sunday, January 29, 2012

Newsfeed - January 29

Paul Auster Refuses Turkey Visit over Jailed Scribes!

American author Paul Auster said he refused to visit Turkey because of the number of journalists and writers that have been jailed in the country. Read more on GIT - North America.

Turkey Takes 148th Place in the 2011-2012 Global Press Freedom Evaluation

According to the Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 released by the Reporters Without Borders, Turkey was placed 148th, following Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Malawi. Read more on GIT - North America.

11 Years in Prison for 3 Eggs?

A law student, Yigit Ergun, who was "caught" with three eggs at president Gul's visit to Istanbul University is under prosecution with a sentence of 11 years in prison. Read more on the process, the student collectives' response and another related case on GIT - North America.

The Footsteps of Fascism

Burak Bekdil writes about the Turkish mood over the French Senate’s vote that made denial of the Armenian genocide illegal in relation to human rights violations -including life sentences for authors, and 11 years of sentence for the student caught with eggs. Read more on GIT - North America.

Signature campaign for hate speech

A campaign has been launched to request a legislation in in the new Turkish constitution against “hate crimes.” Read more on GIT - North America.

The Curtailment of Freedom of Expression by the Turkish State: The Case of Caricaturist Bahadir Baruter

Antropologist Jenny White writes about Omer Bahadir Baruter's conviction as a reflection of the bizarre practice and "over-sensitivity" to curb the freedom of expression in Turkey. Read more on GIT - North America.

6 Year Sentence Because of a Letter

Hanging a banner that read "We want free education," and receiving letters from the prison were cited as evidence in the court against political association. Read more on the report by Ayca Soylemez in Bianet on GIT - North America.

Paul Auster Refuses Turkey Visit over Jailed Journalists and Writers

" [...] Speaking to Daily Hürriyet’s Buket Şahin, Auster said he had protested the Turkish and Chinese governments for their treatment of journalists.

“I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?" Auster said, adding that Turkey was the country he was most worried about.

"Us democrats got rid of the Bushes. We got rid of [former Vice President Dick] Cheney who should have been put on trial for war crimes," the author said. “What is going on in Turkey?"


More than 25 of Auster's works have been translated into Turkish, and he remains as a very popular author in the country."

6-Year Prison Sentence because of a Letter

According to the report on Bianet by Ayca Soylemez, "Defendants Sevgi Dalyan, Sercan Ahmet Arslan, Mehmet Aracı, Ali Arslan, Mahir Arslan and Cemil Onur Çelikdağ were each sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months on charges of "membership in the Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People (DHKP-C)" according to Article 314/2 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK).

Evidence the decision was based on included flags, banners, letters from prisoners, the defendants'answers and a CD of the Grup Yorum band found when the defendants' homes were searched. [...] The according trial was handled by the Erzurum 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance and included a total of eight defendants. Letters written by their imprisoned friends and the defendants' answers were included in the indictment as evidence. [... P]osting a banner reading "We want free education" was also accounted for as evidence. Another reason for the trial was posting a banner featuring the slogan 'Release detained students'."

To see the full report please visit:

Reporters without Borders index

We had already covered that Turkey was placed in a very low rank at the Press Freedom Index and how had dropped from 102 to 138 since 2008, following the 2006 changes to the infamous Turkish Anti-Terror law that expanded the definition of terrorism to threaten freedom of expression and association. Turkey has dropped another 10 ranks this year:

According to the new release of Reporters without Borders, Press Freedom Index 2011-12, "[a]t a time when it is portraying itself as a regional model, Turkey (148th) took a big step backwards and lost 10 places. Far from carrying out promised reforms, the judicial system launched a wave of arrests of journalists that was without precedent since the military dictatorship."

Signature campaign for hate speech

As illustrated in our previous coverage of hate speech, here, here, and here, among other pages such as our "hate speech" tab, we consider hate speech a problematic issue. Now, we are writing to report that a campaign has been launched to demand a legislation in the new Turkish constitution against “hate crimes.”

According to the article in Hurriyet Daily News  the campaign has been put forth by some 50 nongovernmental organizations. Yasemin Inceoglu, professor from the Communications Faculty of Istanbul’s Galatasaray University University, said in a press conference on January 26 that: “[h]ate crime is not yet defined in the Turkish legal system, although we witness them every day. Minorities obviously need legal protection.”

To sign the petition (in Turkish) online please click here.

3 eggs result in 11 years prison sentence request

A law student, Yigit Ergun, who was "caught" with three eggs at president Gul's visit to Istanbul University is under prosecution with a sentence of eleven years in prison. Yiğit Ergün said in the press release on behalf of the students: "AKP is trying to spread fear in universities. They are afraid of us and indeed they shall fear us as AKP members will be welcomed with eggs in universities until we obtain our rights."

For the original report and more detail on student collectives' response visit Firat News Agency.

Turkish State's Bizarre Practice and "Over-sensitivity" to Curb the Freedom of Expression in Turkey

Ömer Bahadır Baruter’s conviction showed state’s bizarre practice and energy to curb the freedomof expression in Turkey. Jenny White narrated it in her blog on September 28,2011
Posted on September28th, 2011 by Jenny White

Original image from Penguen, taken from Radikal
Prosecuters are asking for a year in jail forcaricaturist Ömer Bahadır Baruter for the above cartoon, which appeared in thesatirical magazine Penguen. [...] [T]he reason forthe law suit against Baruter by a religious organization and several citizensis what is written on the wall behind the figures [...] "There is no Allah, religion is a lie.” Baruter is accusedof “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the population”. (click here)
So atheism is not only disapproved of by thepopulation (according to a 2009 poll, 57% don’t want an atheist or unbeliever in religion as aneighbor), but is now actually illegal. [...] A liberal constitution should ideally make itimpossible to try someone for having unpopular beliefs.
According to that same poll, 42 percent didn’twant to live next to Jews and 35 percent next to Christians. Do these groupsalso “insult religious values” held by another group? [...]
To reach Jenny White’sblog and the original text, please visit:

The footsteps of fascism

written by Burak Bekdil.

"The headline read: “Wanted: 60 good senators!”

This is the Turkish mood over the French Senate’s vote that illegalized the denial of the Armenian genocide (now along with Holocaust denial). In other words, all 348 French senators are “bad senators” if they fail to collect 60 signatures for an appeal to the Constitutional Council against the bill.


In response to former GOP presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s remarks that Turkey is “a country that is ruled by what many would perceive as Islamic terrorists – and hence its NATO membership should be questioned,” a shrewd statement from the Foreign Ministry in Ankara said “Turkey joined NATO when Mr. Perry was 2 years old.

Quite right. But applying the same logic, I should remind the Foreign Ministry that Turkey officially pushed the button for EU membership when Mr. Sarkozy was only 4 years old! Turkey was a door-knocker while Mr. Sarkozy was a child, a teenager, a young man, a grown-up, a no one, a president – and it will remain so probably when Mr. Sarkozy has become an old man, too.
So, France-bashing is the new trend after several months of Israel-bashing. Or will the Turks manage to perform both acts? Until, of course, another foreign nation / Parliament / leader does / says something to overshadow both Israel and France. Hopefully, the ruthless Turkish retaliation machinery will cool off Turkish minds with punishing measures.


According to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the French genocide bill symbolizes “the new footsteps of fascism in Europe.”

We learned just this week that Turkish prosecutors demand an 11 year prison sentence for a student who was caught last year with three eggs in his bag, which the prosecutors believe he had intended to throw at President Abdullah Gül during an academic ceremony. Eleven years in jail for three eggs not yet thrown! Like a life sentence for the author of a book not yet published…

Mind you, last year, the European Court of Human Rights received nearly 9,500 complaints against Turkey (not France!) for breaches of press freedom and freedom of expression, compared to 6,500 in 2009.

No doubt Mr. Erdoğan is right about the footsteps he hears. But he’s awfully wrong about their source."

For the original and full text published in the Hurriyet Daily News on January 27, 2012, visit here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newsfeed - January 25

Human Rights Watch World Report released on January 22, 2012

The report reveals the recent violations of freedom of expression under the AKP government. It suggests that “the government has not prioritized human rights reforms since 2005, and freedom of expression and association have both been damaged by the ongoing prosecution and incarceration of journalists, writers, and hundreds of Kurdish political activists." Read more on GIT - North America.

"Is this a democracy or an empire of fear?"Find out more on Ece Temelkuran's latest article on the ninth hearing of the Oda TV trial, in which journalists are tried on GIT-North America.

Who Really Murdered Hrant Dink?

William Jones, Chair of Amnesty International USA's Turkey Coordination Group writes about the murder case of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Read on our commentary section.

Justice in Turkey? Not for some!

The Economist's latest article on the Dink trial and the flaws of Turkish judiciary:
"Even Turkey’s allies worry about its legal system." To find out more, read below in GIT - North America.

Umit Kivanc's documentary of Hrant Drink illuminates the obstacles in the pursuit of justice

Watch it via GIT - North America.

Access to Agos newspaper denied by the "system"

Read how the "system" denied access to the website of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper in Turkey on GIT North-America.

Journalists sue the media
Journalists who were labeled "terrorists" by pro-government newspapers sue them. Read more on GIT - North America.

Oda TV trial continues

Read on the continuing trial of investigative journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener on GIT - North America.

Access to Agos website denied by the "system"

"Access to the website of the Armenian Agos newspaper was temporarily denied to students of schools affiliated with the Ministry of National Education on 23 January. The Turkish Telecom blamed an error of the system for the filtering of the website.

On Monday (23 January), access to the website of the Armenian Agos newspaper was temporarily denied at all schools affiliated with the Ministry of National Education (MEB). Students who tried to access the site encountered the message, "The Turkish Telecom blocked access to this site upon the request of the MEB because of objectionable contents".

Later that day, the Turkish Telecom made an announcement related to the access block.
The company declared that access to personal websites and blogs had been blocked upon the preferences defined by the ministry. The website of the Agos newspaper was included in this filter because it was perceived as part of this category by the system, it was announced."

To find out more and read the full article, please visit:

In fact, while it is hard to know/understand why personal blogs and websites were blocked , it is possible to check which sites are blocked according to the family or child filters from the link below:

Beware though, that after a few domain searches, the system also blocks you and states that you have been searching for too many domains! Wait a few hours and try again.

Journalists sue the media

"Journalists Demir and Kepenk were taken into custody and released in the course of a KCK operation. They now sue the newspapers Zaman, Star, Sabah and Yeni Şafak because of their news about the journalists published during their time in custody." [...] "The newspapers had labelled the journalists as 'terrorists' while they were in custody." These newspapers are known to be very close to government circles.


"Arzu Demir, editor of the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), and Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Evrim Kepenk, were taken into police custody and later on released in the scope of an operation against the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), the umbrella organization that includes the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

48 people, most of them journalists, were taken into custody on 20 December. 36 of them were arrested whereas Demir and Kepenk were released."

To read more, please visit:

Human Rights Watch World Report released on January 22, 2012.

The report reveals the recent violations of freedom of expression under the AKP government. It suggests that “the government has not prioritized human rights reforms since 2005, and freedom of expression and association have both been damaged by the ongoing prosecution and incarceration of journalists, writers, and hundreds of Kurdish political activists.”

Freedom of Expression,Association, and Assembly

“While the last decade has demonstrated momentum in Turkey for increasingly open debate on even controversial issues, Turkey’s laws, prosecutors, judges, and politicians still lag behind. Turkey’s over broad definition of terrorism still allows for arbitrary imposition of the harshest terrorism charges against individuals about whom there is little evidence of logistical or material support for terrorism or of involvement in plotting violent activities. Prosecutors frequently prosecute individuals for non-violent speeches and writings. Politicians sue their critics for criminal defamation. Courts convict with insufficient consideration for the obligation to protect freedom of expression. A comprehensive review of all existing laws that restrict freedom of expression is overdue.

Particularly concerning was the March arrest and imprisonment on terrorism charges of two journalists, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, and of academic Büşra Ersanlı and publisher Ragip Zarakolu in October.Şık and Şener are charged with aiding and abetting the Ergenekon organization, a criminal gang charged with coup-plotting against the AKP government. The sole evidence against Şık and Şener is their non-violent writing, in Şık’s case consisting of an unpublished manuscript. At this writing the two had spent eight months in pre-trial detention, awaiting their November trial.

Ersanlı and Zarakolu will face trial in 2012 foralleged links with the Unıon of Kurdistan Communities (KCK/TM), a body associated with the PKK leadership. They were arrested during a clamp-down on the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) legal political activity, which began in April 2009 and intensified in 2011. Hundreds remain in pre-trial detention and thousands are on trial on terrorism charges after waves of arrests of officials and activist members of the BDP (which won 36 independent seats in the June 2011 general election) for alleged KCK links.

There was little progress in the main Diyarbakir KCK trial of 153 defendants, which included six BDP mayors and a human rights defender held in pre-trial detention for 22 months. Defendants insisted on conducting their defence in Kurdish but this was rejected by the court.

In August the government revised a plan to impose obligatory filtering packages on all internet users and delayed implementation of optional filtering packages, following forceful public opposition in Turkey and by international bodies, including the OSCE and the Council of Europe. However, the practice of blocking an estimated 15,000 websites in Turkey—most of which have pornographic content but some of which are restricted for pro-Kurdish or other political content by order of the Telecommunications Ministry and court decisions—raises concerns about restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and access to information.”

To read the text in full and have full access to the report itself, please visit:

Oda TV trial continues

The 9th hearing of the Oda TV trial was held before the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Monday (23 January). Journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener are among the defendants of this case.
Prosecutor Mehmet Berk substituted for the prosecutor who is usually handling the case because he was absent due to health reasons. The session was attended by 13 defendants, two of whom are not detained.
It was announced that plaintiff Nazlı Ilıcak abandoned her complaint. The hearing was observed by Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Melda Onur, prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, journalists Oktay Ekşi, Ferai Tınç, Haluk Şahin and Ruşen Çakır and lawyer Eşber Yağmurdereli.

A list of five names requested from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) needed for the preparation of an expert report has not been received by the court board yet. The file of defendant Kaşif Kozinoğlu who died in the meantime as the result of a heart attack was separated from the main file. Additionally, it was announced that the records of a conference given by Yalçın Küçük in February 2011 in Gebze have not been sent to court yet."

It should also be noted that the prison administration confiscated Kozinoğlu's written statement after his death, and refuses to give it or even to show it to anyone else, including his lawyer.

"Defendant Hanefi Avcı completed his speech of defence that he had started at the last session. By means of a projection Avcı explained technical details how documents from computers at the Oda TV office that were also included in the indictment were created at a different computer and then transferred to the Oda TV computers.

Avcı emphasized that he was on anti-terror duties for 20 years and that such a document of an organization was impossible to be true.


Şener recalled the decision of the Hrant Dink trial and remarked that he was pleased about the fact that he was not released at the last hearing. He declared that the decision of the Dink case confirmed the things he wrote.

Şener stated that the forces behind the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink was the counter-guerrilla just as said by the Trabzon Governor. He added that he would only be able to obtain peace of mind after that trial would have been clarified."

To read the rest of the article, please visit:

"Is this a democracy or an empire of fear?"

Read Ece Temelkuran's latest article in Al-Akhbar English on the ninth hearing of the Oda TV trial. Among the 13 defendants of the trial are 11 journalists nine of whom have been detained in prison for over eleven months now. The indictment accuses the defendants of 'founding an armed terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government'. "Until now the prosecutors have not presented evidence to back up such accusations" says Temelkuran:

Umit Kivanc's documentary of Hrant Dink illuminates the obstacles in the pursuit of justice

In this remarkable documentary, Umit Kivanc tells the story of dubious investigation and trial following Hrant Dink's murder. For those whose demand for justice is defeated by the passing of time in the fifth year of his killing and whose memory is deceived by careless investigation and incomplete trial, watch From January 19 to January 19 on Vimeo.

Justice in Turkey? Not for some!

The Economist's latest article on the Dink trial and the flaws of Turkish judiciary:
"Even Turkey’s allies worry about its legal system. In a report citing Mr Dink’s case, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s human-rights commissioner, rebuked Turkish judges and prosecutors for 'giving precedence to the protection of the state over the protection of human rights.'

Read the full article here:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newsfeed - January 22

Tens of Thousands of People Commemorate Hrant Dink

On Thursday, January 19, thousands of people walked from Taksim to the office of the Agos newspaper in Şişli to commemorate Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink at the place he was killed five years ago. Two days after the Dink trial was concluded, banners reading "This trial will not end that way" were dominating the scene. Read Bianet's report here.

Hrant Dink's case: Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

Read a news analysis on the state of the case of Hrant Dink's murder on GIT - North America.

Hrant Dink Foundation Report

Read extensive murder and court case reports prepared and displayed on Hrant Dink Foundation website here.

A university president prevents pepper gas purchase

Hacettepe University's new president prevented pepper gas purchase for his campus and took steps to provide an environment in which students can voice their views freely. Read the full story on GIT - North America.

"Official Turkey" against "Civil Turkey"

Read a news summary analysis of Official Turkey's transnational engagement with institutions abroad and attempts to controlling them as well on GIT - North America. 

Professor asks for birth control of Kurds, suggests throwing rockets at protestors

A professor who ironically teaches human rights at Ankara University's Law School, spoke at the Parliament's Human Rights Commission and made appalling suggestions on the grounds that it is impossible to approach terrorism according to human rights, and thus according to him, these rights should be suspended and law of war should be applied in those zones. He also proposed birth control of the Kurds and throwing rockets at protesters. To read more on this, click here.

Assassinated Kurdish writer Musa Anter's books are banned

Prosecutors banned Anter's books and opened an investigation against Aram publishing company that published his books for conducting "terrorist propaganda." Read more on this here [in Turkish] and here [in English]

The president prevented the pepper gas purchase

[From the daily Radikal; January 18, 2012]

This newspaper article signals some more positive changes at Hacettepe University campus, while revealing some more horrible facts: that the police requested the list of the names of students who protested against Uludere massacre [also covered here, on GIT - North America], which suggests potential criminalization intent of student protests against this massacre; that the previous president of the university had opened a bid for a contract to pepper gas the students, among others.

In the last month “new things” have been happening at Hacettepe University, where students had been punished because they were being vocal about their transportation and accommodation problems and professors had been under investigation because they were asking the government to revoke the said punishment of students. The new president of the university Murat Tuncer refused to give the police the list of the names of students who had participated in a protest against the massacre at Uludere. He says he will never give the names… There will no longer be investigations related to participation in protests and association… From now on putting up posters and distributing pamphlets will be allowed... The contract formerly in place for the university to purchase gas bombs, shields and masks for “security” purposes has been repealed…The new president held a three-hour-long meeting with the students, which he will repeat every month… The role of the president in these hope-inspiring developments is undeniable, and yet, the students say that this democratic environment is not granted and remind their own contribution through years of active struggle. They also state that they will make sure that these new measures are followed-through.

Following the protest at the university in the wake of the massacre in Uludere the police forces had written a letter to the presidency asking for the names and images of the [involved] students. President Murat Tuncer denied the demand of the police and, instead, asked the representatives of the student organizations to attend a meeting with him. In the meeting,which took place on January 6, [Tuncer] assured the students that their action was a democratic right and that from now on “lists of activist students” will not be handed to the police. He added that the students would now be given a voice in the university council and that meetings with the students would be held second week of each month.

Gas Bomb via Contract!
Some of these promises have already become reality. Previously opened investigations have been repealed. The curfew at the university dorms has been pushed later to 2 a.m. The first meeting of the president with the students took place on January 14; therein nearly 100 students expressed their criticism of and demands from the university. Ayse Kavas, Sociology major[at Hacettepe University] and spokesperson for the Ankara section of the “Youth Take it to Streets” Initiative, recounts the positive effects of the [recent] actions: “In our fight for this we have been subjected to [police] investigation for years. Students will play an active part in the implementation of the new measures. Students, together with the General Secretariat, will finalize the decisions and make a declaration to the whole university. The participation of students in this process is a key issue. I hope this sets an example to all universities.” As Ozgur Bozkurt, a Student Collectives member about whom six investigations were opened only last year put: “This is a preclusive step and it is positive. We will follow it.” A junior from the Opposition of Youth, Pinar Alisan, on the other hand, seems to remain cautious: “Alongside freedom and democracy is created the myth of a president. Putting up posters and [distributing] pamphlets were rights that we already had; they shouldn’t be regarded as [if they were newly] granted.”

The changes undertaken by the new president of Hacettepe University also revealed a tragic fact. When Tuncer found out about a contract that was set up for purchasing gas bombs, gas masks and shields with the excuse of “security needs,” he superseded all work related to this [contract]. Criticizing a university’s bid to acquiring gas [bombs] through a security contract, “It is unthinkable for me to use gas against my own student[s],” he added.

Who is Tuncer?
He graduated from Istanbul University Medical School in1980. He became a pediatrician in 1984 and a pediatric hematology specialist in1990. He became an associate professor in 1987, and became a full professor in1994. Having served as the Head of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Fight with Cancer, Tuncer became second place in the elections for university president with 507 votes. He was put in the first place in the list that the Council of Higher Education sent to the President Abdullah Gül and Gül appointed him as the president of Hacettepe.

The university demanded pepper gas
When the university administration opens the bids for contracts this year, it noticed the pepper gas and gas masks in last year’s document listing the terms of purchase contracts. It cancelled out these items on this year’s document. Last year, the university purchased pepper gas, shield and gas mask with the permission from the Governor’s Office of Ankara. This permission was given for the first time and only to Hacettepe University.

For the Turkish version of this piece, please see:

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf? An overview of Hrant Dink's Case

Last week, on the fifth anniversary of his assassination, Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder trial was concluded with an anticlimax; only a few people were found guilty and not only according to the verdict there were no indications of organized crime, but also the distribution of sentences as well as many shady dynamics such as the Telecommunication Communication Agency [TİB]'s refusal for a long time to give phone call details from the murder location, including the suspects' of the time, under the pretext of violation of privacy and so on, turned the case into a gridlock.

Whereas Yasin Hayal, one of the people found guilty and who received a life sentence said that the state used him beginning with Ramazan Akyürek, the head of the police intelligence office at the time, the prosecutor insisted that it is not the state but a hundred-year long operating terrorist organization that was guilty. Rakel Dink, late Hrant Dink's wife had written a letter to PM Erdoğan to request an investigation of the intelligence ties between Erhan Tuncel and Ramazan Akyürek. Erhan Tuncel has been acquitted and Ramazan Akyürek can return to his work as of last Spring 2011, as the decision to dismiss him has been annulled.[1]

Some others, on the other hand, mentioned "Kafes Eylem Planı" [Cage or Kafes Action Plan] at play, a document reported to be found during a police raid in the office of an Ergenekon suspect, Levent Bektaş. Among other things, the plan reported (by the police and TÜBİTAK reports) to be found in a DVD mentioned different murders, including that of non-Muslims, to bring chaos to the country so that there could be a military coup.

And yet, there are oddities in that respect too: the police raid and the confiscation of DVDs and CDs took place on April 22, 2009. The DVDs and CDs were sent to an expert to receive a detailed account of the contents, which were completed and sent to the prosecutor's office on May 9th. Here are the strange facts: 1) Even before receiving the list of the contents of the DVDs, the prosecutor surprisingly used Kafes Action Plan [supposedly discovered in this DVD after the expert report revealing the contents on May 9th] to interrogate a suspect, on April 27. If this were the only oddity, the anachronistic incident could perhaps be ignored. But the oddities continue: 2) The DVD and the Kafes/Cage Action Plan claimed to be found in it are included both in TÜBİTAK and in police reports. Subsequently, an indictment is prepared on this plan, using this information in the police report. 3) It seems like the first experts only analyzed a few of the CD and DVDs, and not the whole collection of DVD and CDs confiscated in Bektaş's office. But why not look into all the DVDs and CDs that are submitted to them for analysis? 4) An expert team at Boğaziçi University and another computer forensics team located in New York did not find the same data. That is to say, according to their work on the DVD image provided by the court, the files claimed to be stored in those DVD and CDs by TÜBİTAK [2] and the law enforcement--and this includes Kafes/Cage Action Plan, did not exist in that CD or DVD.

Where does all this leave us?

Rober Koptaş, editor-in-chief of late Hrant Dink's newspaper Agos, provides his own interpretation of the bigger picture of the Dink case as one of power struggles in his piece in Agos, and offers his view of the case dynamics with the following equation:

"In a nutshell:
Yasin Hayal = Gendarmerie + Ergenekon + Anti-Gülen wing in the Police Department 

Erhan Tuncel = Gülenist police officers + Akyürek and his team"

Rober Koptaş calls attention to how different alliances seek to blame each other, trying to cover up their own responsibilities, which has already been argued on different forums as well.  As for Koptaş, he rightfully asks where the government and MIT, the Turkish intelligence agency are at in this equation.

As the controversy on the trial continues, bigger power struggles seem to crystallize around Hrant Dink's murder case, and considering how very similar controversies revolve around Malatya Zirve missionary murders and Priest Santoro's assassination cases in a parallel manner to Dink's case, it is likely that the power struggles might continue on different planes [3]. Whether these murders are linked to one another or not, three things are certain:
1) Hate crimes might be committed by individuals with different motives, but for decades, it has been the state that planted seeds of discrimination and hate speech through school textbooks, taking positions on conflicts, silencing historical events, and so on. 2) Independent from institutions and individuals that might have been involved in these cases, what might also be linking these cases are the power struggles that revolve around them and the impulse for appropriating these cases in an attempt to legitimizing their own voice, or possibly masking one's own position in them. In short, yet another power game. 3) These power struggles do much damage to these cases, and many others including Ergenekon, as each group seems to strive to use them for their own gain.

There are several books written on the subject and one of them is by the award-winning journalist Nedim Şener who is now in jail; similar to other journalists, Şener had been also prosecuted for having written a book on the subject by Akyürek, Zenit, Sarı and Yılmazer, and was tried with a demand of about 20 years of prison [he has later been acquitted on this case]. Şener's book was on the gendarmerie, intelligence and law enforcement involvement/problems in the Hrant Dink murder case. Another book, Bi Ermeni Var [4], on the other hand, again on the subject of Hrant Dink's murder, that Kürşat Bumin in Yeni Şafak called "written to protect one side and to put the blame entirely on the other" is advertised by Gülen's media flagship Today's Zaman as "shedding light" on the unknown sides of the murder. The book brings new documents and focuses on the gendarmerie mostly, but seems to be very selective when it comes to police officers, mostly putting the blame on some of the Istanbul police, and appears to divert the attention from mostly both the Police Intelligence Department [with the exception of an officer claimed to be anti-Gülenist by some] or the Trabzon police--seemingly sheltering Akyürek and others.

Thus shedding light, if at all, on parts of what might have happened, this book, because of the way in which it was written, comes across as contributing to the struggle between different parties that Rober Koptaş had mentioned, and therefore it actually seems to be part of these struggles itself (and not above them), as Kürşat Bumin also points out. The book and Zaman and Today's Zaman concurrently reproduce the same discourse in highlighting the web of allegations around Istanbul Police Department and Trabzon gendarmerie, which no doubt is part of the truth, but seem to conveniently overlook Trabzon Police Department--as exemplified here; of course, we still do not know what the Trabzon Police Department's responsibility in the Dink murder might be, because there is a court decision against investigating them  even though Dink lawyers requested prosecuting Trabzon Police Department multiple times [5]. As for the book Bi Ermeni Var, it does leave us with this question: why serve the evidence details to a journalist to write a book, instead of submitting them to the authorities in order to help the investigation, as Dink lawyer Fethiye Çetin also remarked [as reported by Bumin]?

In a recent hearing, Şener said that he was arrested in order to obscure the Dink case, and that the police officers who investigate the case, are the same officers who are responsible of this murder. Pointing at the problems with the fact that the prosecutors turn police reports unproblematically into indictments, Şener expressed that he was being prosecuted for having exposed the real responsible parties in the Dink case. Later, he additionaly "stated that the forces behind the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink was the counter-guerrilla just as said by the Trabzon Governor. He added that he would only be able to obtain peace of mind after that trial would have been clarified."And he also "declared that the [court] decision of the Dink case confirmed the things he wrote." Who is that counter-guerilla? What are the behind the scenes? These are the things that we all want to know.

Therefore, all the connections should be investigated, whether it is the gendarmerie, the police, or other law enforcement and intelligence actors, regardless of their allegiance to this or that camp.

To conclude, what Dink's case illustrates unfortunately seems to be more how power struggles are shaped. If true, it is rather unfortunate that this is done by appropriating the name of a murder victim.

In the meanwhile, masses commemorate Hrant Dink and ask for justice.

To read detailed report accounts on the subject, please visit Hrant Dink Foundation's website:

[1] Whereas some news report no evidence was found against Akyürek, it is important to note that Rize Criminal Court did not allow to open any investigation against him or others in Trabzon Police Office under the premise that it was not deemed necessary. To read more on the subject in English, you can click here and here. Akyürek is also criticized as being the person who requested wire-taps and wire-tapped conversations to be under the jurisdiction of police intelligence office and whose request was accepted by the court. Under allegations of irregular wiretaps, he had testified to some deputies in the past.

[2] We had covered the case of TÜBİTAK together with other cases here on GIT - North America as one of the independent institutions now absorbed and controlled by the government.

[3] One such telling example is the case of late Türkan Saylan, who was a staunch Kemalist and with whom many of us would strongly disagree on many issues including her stance against the veil. Regardless of her political position, however, it is how she became a target through various discourses that she is brought up here: Saylan was accused of and attacked by conservative media, including Fethullah Gülen media flagship, under the allegations of being a PKK affiliate and a Christian missionary while she was investigated for being a member of Ergenekon. Of course, affiliating anyone claimed to be part of Ergenekon (which would imply ultra-Turkish-nationalism) with PKK is also odd. Additionally, perhaps not surprisingly, none of the "Christian missionary activity" was written in English in Today's Zaman, but in Turkish editorials and in Samanyolu--another Gülen media flagship that caters for a more "local" crowd. To see a sample of these click here for example, where Samanyolu publishes a "document" with the title "here is the document that shows Saylan's missionary activities"-- "exposing" Türkan Saylan's alleged Christian missionary activities. Because of this, Galatasaray University professor Ahmet İnsel criticized both the Gülenist and Kemalist nationalists as being anti-missionary in a piece on late Türkan Saylan. (To see Ahmet İnsel's piece in Radikal, click here). In this text, Ahmet İnsel illustrates how those "documents" were manipulated, as the "exposed" documents did not contain the data they claimed they did. Not that it matters whether Saylan was a missionary, she very well could be and that would still not be the point. The question is not whether she was indeed a missionary or not, but rather, why it is that they went as far as data manipulation and resorted to the additional use of a shady email as evidence to enforce a link between Saylan and Christian missionaryism, as if it were a bad thing? Doesn't this qualify as hate speech? What was even more strange is that Today's Zaman used the Cage/Kafes Plan mentioned above as one that plots murders of non-Muslims, about exactly a year after the "exposure" of Türkan Saylan to the Turkish public as a Christian missionary, and claimed that the ÇYDD, an NGO of which Saylan was the chairwoman, had stored the names of Christian missionaries, insinuating that Saylan et al were plotting against these missionaries. Again, of course, in this article written in English, without a mention of Christian missionary allegations against her [by their own media], Saylan was now accused of targeting against them--the missionaries--herself. Read that article here. The problems and oddities with the Cage Plan are cited above, as for the rest, they are simply very odd and an oxymoron to put it lightly. Considering all these dynamics and inconsistencies, one can reasonably anticipate more controversies, oddities and power struggles revolving around other cases of Christian murders, including missionary murders as well.

[4] The book Bi Ermeni Var (There is an Armenian) is written by journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan, who writes for the daily Bugün. The book also engages [Christian] missionaries, and points at the gendarmerie and the National Security Council as the main sources of the anti-missionary activities. It is true that these parties were quite hostile against non-Muslim missionaries as Kürşat Bumin points out in his piece linked above, and yet, as Bumin also criticizes in the same piece, they were not the only ones who had developed an anti-missionary stance. The rest of the problems are raised above.

[5] See fn.1. above.

“Official Turkey” against “Civil Turkey”

The arrests of journalists and academicians in Turkey encouraged Turkish academics and intellectuals who live abroad to establish GIT. Their purpose is to safeguard academic freedom of expression in Turkey. However, recent events and reactions show that the problem of academic freedom of expression is not only confined in Turkey’s territory. Now it is attempting to reach beyond Turkey’s national borders. It is targeting civil initiatives of individuals and groups who don’t reside in Turkey and that struggle for further democratization of Turkey.

Cengiz Çandar’s article which appeared in Turkish daily Hurriyet on 29 October 2011 nicely illustrates this trend with an endeavor to explanation. He narrates the story of the establishment of “The Center for Turkey Studies and Development” in England.

“The Center is less than a year old and is headed by Ibrahim Dogus, a brilliant and skillful young activist in his early 30s. This center targets various sections of Turkish society in England: Turks, Kurds, Alevis, conservative Sunnis, and Cypriot Turks. All these groups are able to work collectively under Center’s roof. The Center is highly successful in its ability to exert influence upon English state institutions. There are 18 elected members from Turkey (12 of which are either Kurds or Alevis) in 32 London boroughs. The Center is in close relations with all these members and has played a significant role in some the members’ electoral success. The Center established strong ties with high rank and grassroots organizations of the political parties in England.

The Center was inaugurated on the 5th of April 2011 with the support of the Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Party leader and coalition partner of conservatives, Nick Clegg. Our “state” suggested to Recep Tayyip Erdogan that during his London visit and meeting with Clegg he should mention that he [Clegg] should not participate at the inauguration of the Center. Despite this Nick Clegg made his inaugural speech.”

Çandar asks “What does this mean?” He thinks the foreign “Official Turkey” refrains from keeping contact with the foreign “Civil Turkey”, despite the latter’s attempts to form good relations. The foreign Official Turkey does not stop at impassivity; it actively takes part in lobbying against the foreign Civil Turkey. It encourages the Turkish Prime Minster to take action to damage foreign Civil Turkey’s favorable relations with English politicians.

For Çandar the predicaments that face Turkey is a function of government’s insistence on pursing the ways and habits of old, centralist, and highly bureaucratic state tradition. Its unsuccessful lobbying activity in London is just an epitome of the ways of Turkish aged centralist state tradition.

Çandar traces the wrong doings of this state mentality to the Van earthquake. He thinks the duel state authority and state’s failure to bring help to the needy during the Van earthquake is another instance which reflects this state mentality. The disaster also brought to the front the official state’s attitude towards the Kurdish population.

Çandar says “Even though in their speeches, in theory they acknowledge that they cannot administer everything from Ankara, in practice the government cannot get rid of the highly centralist state tradition. They made a mess of the rescue and aid operation in Van. … There is a political tension, if not an animosity between the government who commend the gigantic machinery called “state” and its bureaucracy, and the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) who got the majority vote in Van.

For Çandar, there is a “Turkey of the state” and another “Turkey of the people.” The two Turkeys hardly converge. Van earthquake showed both Turkeys. Peoples solidarity in Van brings to mind the latter while the officials (Van Governor and security forces) inability to act in concert with the Van Municipality reminds us of the former. Çandar argues the old Turkish state reflexive reaction is still alive and with us it is highly effective both domestically and internationally and it works diligently to suppress civil Turkey both inside and outside.

Çandar also refers to Mehmet Ali Birand’s comment on the Van earthquake. Birand suggested that “from its lower to the higher ranks, the state bureaucracy and security forces look down on BDP. They assume a disdainful attitude. They are conditioned with only one outlook. They see BDP as a threat to the division of the country, hence their attitude towards BDP is always negative and unfavorable. Frankly speaking, they see BDP as an enemy.”

Çandar points to the “police mentality” behind all these predicaments. This police mentality pervades the opinions of civil security experts and of the bureaucracy. Albeit strong influence, this mentality has no chance to resolve the problems that have been plaguing Turkey for years now.

For Çandar the possible solution resides in AKP’s (meaning Recep Tayyip Erdogan), turning to their origins. It must not look down on people that gave birth to it. It should remember its origins and critically reflect upon whether it belong to the ‘civil’ Turkey or Turkey of the ‘state.’
Çandar argues that it is AKPs right to hold the power and command the ‘state,’ but it should refrain from metamorphosing into that ‘state.’ Rather it should take step to reform the state. Because metamorphosing into that ‘state’ is the utmost danger for a party who obtained %50 of the votes.

For Cengiz Çandar's October 29 article:

The Center for Turkey Studies and Development’s web site: