Thursday, June 20, 2013

Letter of Complaint Regarding Hate Speech and Racist Behavior by Ahmet Atan, Yildiz Technical University, Chair of the Arts Department*

Dear Madam/Sir, 

We are writing to report the unacceptable racist behavior shown by Ahmet Atan,** who, according to his own website, is the president of the Turkey chapter of the World’s Academy of Arts “New Era.”  We are a group of academics and scientists in the United States who research, work, and critically engage with issues regarding  freedom of academic and journalistic research in Turkey and the liberties of association and publishing thereof. 

On June 16, 2013, Mr. Atan sent three tweets via his twitter account, of which a screen capture has been taken.
In the third tweet, which he proceeded to delete later on, he states: 

"If you are Jewish, Armenian or Greek, I would understand your active participation in the Gezi Park protests. Please research your racial genealogy."

According to another website,, it appears that, besides representing your academy in Turkey, Mr. Atan was also awarded the "Artist of the Year 2013" by your institution.

Please pursue this case as you see fit. We also kindly request that you keep us informed of your actions regarding the racist comments of your member and conferee. We are hoping that the World’s Academy of Arts “New Era,” in accordance with its Statute of Titles 4.3, in case "an Academy’s conferee commits an act (or shows inaction) that discredits the Academy’s reputation," will denounce this kind of behavior, and make a public declaration of Mr. Atan’s exclusion from membership.

We are looking forward to hearing from you on this matter by July 01, 2013. In case the deadline passes with no veritable action on your part, we feel that it is our responsibility to inform the Jewish, Armenian and Greek communities in Turkey and other Art Academies globally about Mr. Atan's unacceptable behavior and your condoning inaction hereto.

Thank you in advance for your inquiries in this matter. Kind regards,

GIT- North America, 
Transnational Work Group on Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey

*GIT-NA would like to thank friends who have brought this matter into our attention. We have sent an electronic mail with the above content to the World’s Academy of Arts “New Era," and we urge our readers to follow suit. They can be reached at
**There is also an important petition calling for Ahmet Atan's disposition from the faculty.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Listening to Taksim

As resistance to the unprecedented police violence unleashed by Erdogan’s government against the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression continues in Turkey, the original scale of the resistance movement that crystallized into being on May 31, 2013 has mushroomed in lightning speed. What began as the protection struggle of Gezi Park in Taksim Square has now evolved into demonstrations of solidarity in several squares and streets of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other provinces.

One uniting feature of these public demonstrations is their inclusiveness of multiple currents of opposition to PM Tayyip Erdogan’s rule. Yet the roots and forms of Taksim revolt are both complex and evolving. As GIT North America newsfeeds resume, we present analytical snapshots taken by members of GIT – NA working group regarding this historically novel stage of resistance to ruling party AKP’s suppression of freedoms of expression.

Gülay Türkmen-Dervişoğlu traces the moment of formation of resistance at Gezi Park and the coalition behind the protest in Open Democracy. Evren Savcı highlights the social context of opposition to AKP’s neoliberal policies in Jadaliyya. The focus of Umut Özge’s critical contribution to Open Democracy is the simplistic templates often used in mainstream media to understand the emerging resistance in Turkey

In a stark contrast to the censorship prevalent in Turkish TV during the first days of the protests and truncated images of civil unrest in international media, Ariel Salzmann conveys the diversity of Taksim revolt and its emerging contribution to an expansion of civil discourse in her live interview at Canadian main news network CTV News. Similarly, Ayça Çubukçu underscores the promise of Taksim as an experimentation with direct democracy in an interview toward the end of a BBC Two news report (provided as a Youtube link here to facilitate global access).

If one aim of GIT – NA is to produce and give an overview of critical research regarding repression of freedom of thought, another aim is to listen to the voices of resistance to this repression and to bear witness as the starting point of research. These voices are indeed multiple. For a glimpse into their multiplicity and coherence you can read the statement that Taksim Solidarity, the umbrella group of numerous rights and political organizations, issued to the public and presented to the government on June 5.

Monday, June 3, 2013

GIT-North America Condemns Police Brutality in Ongoing Nationwide Rallies in Turkey

Dr. Burak Ünveren, a member of Department of Economics at Yıldız Teknik University and Selim Gören, a student of the same department lost one of their eyes after being shut by a tear gas canister fired by the Turkish riot police. Burak and Selim are among many, who were seriously injured by tear gas and water cannons directed against protestors in the ongoing anti-government rallies in Turkey. The protests began as a reaction to governments plans to demolish Gezi Park, one of the last green spaces in central Istanbul and replace it with a shopping mall, a replica of Ottoman era artillery. The brutal crackdown of protestors last week inflamed nationwide rallies over the weekend against police brutality and anti-democratic rule of the government. You can read more on Burak and Selim's cases in Turkish here and more on the protests here.

Dr. Burak Ünveren