Assembled from notes, Ahmet Altan’s I Will Never See the World Again is up for Baillie Gifford prize alongside Guardian and Observer journalists Amelia Gentleman and Laura Cumming

Three years almost to the day since the Turkish author Ahmet Altan was first jailed in the wake of the country’s failed coup, he has been longlisted for the £50,000 Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction for his prison memoir, I Will Never See the World Again.

First imprisoned in 2016, Altan received a life sentence in 2018 for sending out subliminal messages in favour of a coup” on television and attempting to overthrow the government. PEN America has called his imprisonment “a horrific assault on freedom of expression” and authors including JM Coetzee and AS Byatt have demanded his release in an open letter saying that his “crime is not supporting a coup but the effectiveness of his criticism of the current government”.

Put together from notes given to his lawyers, I Will Never See the World Again reflects that “never again would I be able to kiss the woman I love, embrace my kids, meet with my friends, walk the streets … I would not be able to watch the sunrise.”

You can read the rest of The Guardian story here.

 

Par Emmanuel Pierrat, président du PEN Club français; Sylvestre Clancier, président d’honneur du PEN Club français et Andréas Becker, président du Comité des écrivains persécutés. Ainsi que les membres du PEN Club français, Libération, 18.06.2018

Frère, ami, collègue écrivain, nous ne savons pas, aujourd’hui, où tu te trouves, dans quelle prison tu as été jeté, dans quelle cellule tu dois être en train de croupir. Nous ne savons pas comment tu fais pour te nourrir, pour boire, pour te chauffer, te protéger, pour protéger ton corps du froid qui est, chez toi, le froid de l’injustice, le terrible froid de la solitude, de la rage contre l’injustice et contre la solitude, nous ne savons pas comment tu survis. Tes geôliers t’ont jeté en prison parce que tu disais tout haut ce que beaucoup pensent tout bas et que peu osent dire. Nous n’aurions peut-être pas eu ton courage, frère écrivain, héros de nos jours. Nous n’oublions pas tout ce qui nous révolte chez nous, nous voyons les SDF dans la rue, les gens déplacés s’entasser dans les couloirs du métro et se nourrir de nos poubelles, nous n’oublions pas que certains hommes et femmes d’affaires répartissent leurs profits avec les puissants de ton pays, nous n’oublions pas que trop de nos politiques sourient publiquement à tes bourreaux et dans l’ombre, croisent les doigts en espérant que leur cupidité ne se voie pas. Mais ce n’est pas parce que chez toi c’est pire que chez nous c’est mieux.

Continue reading “Lettre à Ahmet Altan, emprisonné au pays d’Erdogan”

K24, 28.02.2018

Ishiguro, Stiglitz, Alexievich among Nobel laureates urging Turkish president to restore rule of law and “reclaim membership of free world”

The cream of scholars, scientists and literary figures from around the world called upon Turkey to respect freedom of speech, end the state of emergency and set free writers and journalists wrongfully imprisoned.

An open letter published in the Guardiannewspaper, signed by an initial 38 Nobel prize winners, drew particular attention to the recent sentencing by an İstanbul court of journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, to aggravated life imprisonment.

That conviction, on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through use of force and violence” has sparked high level protest given that Turkey’s own constitutional court had ruled only weeks before ruled as a “pilot judgement” that defendant, Mehmet Altan should be freed from pre-trial detention for lack of evidence.

The laureates reminded the Turkish president of his once strong commitment to free expression, quoting remarks at a 2009 ceremony in honor of journalist Çetin Altan that the days when Turkey sentenced its great writers to prison was gone for ever. “Among the audience were Çetin Altan’s two sons: Ahmet and Mehmet. Nine years later, they are sentenced to life,” the letter said.

A speedy return to the rule of law would not just free writers in prison but “make Turkey again a proud member of the free world,” the letter said.

Since its initial publication an additional three Nobel winners have added their names, including the 93 year-old neurophysiologist, Torsten Nils Wiesel (1981 Nobel Prize for Medicine).

The list is expected to rise further.

They will be joining literary giants Romania-born German writer Herta Müller known for her novels Traveling on One Leg and The Appointment, Elfriede Jelinek, author of The Piano Teacher which was adapted to cinema by Michael Haneke and awarded the Grand Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, Belarussian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich author of Secondhand Time and The Unwomenly Face of War, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa who is widely considered as one of the greatest writers and essayist of South America and South African born author J.M. Coetzee, twice winner of the Man Booker Prize.

Other signatories include respected American economist Joseph Stiglitz, Elias Corey, considered as one of the greatest living chemists, his colleagues Robert Huber and Harmurt Michel who made important discoveries on photosynthesis, American geneticist Andrew Fire who carried out groundbreaking researches on RNA and physicist Andre Geim often described as the “inventor” of the graphene, one of the lightest and strongest materials known.

The letter reminded the Turkish president of a similar protest against his own “unjust, unlawful, and cruel” conviction for reciting a poem in 1997 “Many human rights organizations which defended you then are appalled at the violations now occurring in your country,” the laureates wrote.

Here is the full open letter:

 

H.E. RECEP TAYYİP ERDOĞAN

Dear President Erdoğan,

We wish to draw your attention to the damage being done to the Republic of Turkey, to its reputation and the dignity and wellbeing of its citizens, through what leading authorities on freedom of expression deem to be the unlawful detention and wrongful conviction of writers and thinkers.

In a Memorandum on the Freedom of Expression in Turkey (2017), Nils Muižnieks, then Council of Europe commissioner for Human Rights, warned:

“The space for democratic debate in Turkey has shrunk alarmingly following increased judicial harassment of large strata of society, including journalists, members of parliament, academics and ordinary citizens, and government action which has reduced pluralism and led to self-censorship. This deterioration came about in a very difficult context, but neither the attempted coup, nor other terrorist threats faced by Turkey, can justify measures that infringe media freedom and disavow the rule of law to such an extent.

“The authorities should urgently change course by overhauling criminal legislation and practice, redevelop judicial independence and reaffirm their commitment to protect free speech.”

There is no clearer example of the commissioner’s concern that the detention in September 2016 of Ahmet Altan, a bestselling novelist and columnist; Mehmet Altan, his brother, professor of economics and essayist; and Nazlı Ilıcak, a prominent journalist – all as part of a wave of arrests following the failed July 2016 coup. These writers were charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through violence or force. The prosecutors originally wanted to charge them with giving “subliminal messages” to coup supporters while appearing on a television panel show. The ensuing tide of public ridicule made them change that accusation to using rhetoric “evocative of a coup”. Indeed, Turkey’s official Anatolia News Agency called the case “The Coup Evocation Trial”.

As noted in the commissioner’s report, the evidence considered by the judge in Ahmet Altan’s case was limited to a story dating from 2010 in Taraf newspaper (of which Ahmet Altan had been the editor-in-chief until 2012), three of his op-ed columns and a TV appearance. The evidence against the other defendants was equally insubstantial. All these writers had spent their careers opposing coups and militarism of any sort, and yet were charged with aiding an armed terrorist organisation and staging a coup.

The commissioner saw the detention and prosecution of Altan brothers as part of a broader pattern of repression in Turkey against those expressing dissent or criticism of the authorities. He considered such detentions and prosecutions to have violated human rights and undermined the rule of law. David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, concurred and dubbed the legal proceedings a “show trial”.

Turkey’s own constitutional court concurred with this criticism. On 11 January this year, it ruled that Mehmet Altan and fellow journalist Şahin Alpay’s rights were being violated by pre-trial detention, and that they should be released. Yet the first-degree courts refused to implement the higher constitutional court’s decision, thus placing the judicial system in criminal violation of the constitution. Mr President, you must surely be concerned that the lower criminal court’s defiance and this non-legal decision was backed by the spokesperson of your government.

On 16 February 2018, the Altan brothers and Ilıcak were sentenced to aggravated life sentences, precluding them from any prospect of a future amnesty.

President Erdoğan, we the undersigned share the following opinion of David Kaye: “The court decision condemning journalists to aggravated life in prison for their work, without presenting substantial proof of their involvement in the coup attempt or ensuring a fair trial, critically threatens journalism and with it the remnants of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey”.

In April 1998, you yourself were stripped of your position as mayor of Istanbul, banned from political office, and sentenced to prison for 10 months, for reciting a poem during a public speech in December 1997 through the same article 312 of the penal code. This was unjust, unlawful and cruel. Many human rights organisations – which defended you then – are appalled at the violations now occurring in your country. Amnesty International, PEN International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, and Reporters Without Borders are among those who oppose the recent court decision.

During a ceremony in honor of Çetin Altan, on 2 February 2009, you declared publicly that “Turkey is no longer the same old Turkey who used to sentence its great writers to prison – this era is gone for ever.” Among the audience were Çetin Altan’s two sons: Ahmet and Mehmet. Nine years later, they are sentenced to life; isn’t that a fundamental contradiction?

Under these circumstances, we voice the concern of many inside Turkey itself, of its allies and of the multilateral organizations of which it is a member. We call for the abrogation of the state of emergency, a quick return to the rule of law and for full freedom of speech and expression. Such a move would result in the speedy acquittal on appeal of Ms Ilıcak and the Altan brothers, and the immediate release of others wrongfully detained. Better still, it would make Turkey again a proud member of the free world.

Signatories of the letter

Svetlana Alexievich (2015 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Philip W. Anderson (1977 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Martin Chalfie (2008  Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Aaron Ciechanover (2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

J.M. Coetzee (2003 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1997 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Elias J. Corey (1990 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Peter Diamond (2010 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel)

Gerhard Ertl (2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Albert Fert (2007 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Edmond H. Fischer (1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Andrew Z. Fire (2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Andre Geim (2010 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Sheldon Glashow (1979 Nobel Prize in Physics)

David Gross (2004 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Serge Haroche (2012 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Oliver Hart (2016 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel)

Leland H. Hartwell (2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Richard Henderson (2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Dudley Herschbach (1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Avram Hershko (2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Roald Hoffmann (1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Robert Huber (1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Tim Hunt (2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Kazuo Ishiguro (2017 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Elfriede Jelinek (2004 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Leon Lederman (1988 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Anthony James Leggett (2003 Nobel Prize in Physics)

Daniel Kahneman (2002 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel)
Eric Kandel (2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Eric S. Maskin (2007 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel)

Craig Mello (2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Hartmut Michel (1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Herta Müller (2009 Nobel Prize in Literature)

V.S. Naipaul (2001 Nobel Prize in Literature)

William D. Phillips (1997 Nobel Prize in Physics)

John C. Polanyi (1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Richard J. Roberts (1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Jean-Pierre Sauvage (2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Randy W. Schekman (2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Wole Soyinka (1986 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Thomas A. Steitz (2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Joseph Stiglitz (2001 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel)

Thomas C. Südhof (2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Jack W. Szostak (2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Mario Vargas Llosa (2010 Nobel Prize in Literature)

J. Robin Warren (2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Arieh Warshel (2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

Eric F. Wieschaus (1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

Torsten Wiesel (1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine)

David Wineland (2012 Nobel Prize in Physics)

 

Der große türkische Intellektuelle Ahmet Altan hat immer offen gesagt, was er dachte. Dafür wird er geliebt und gefürchtet. Die lebenslängliche Haftstrafe gegen ihn ist ein Skandal.

Von Tim Neshitov  Süddeutsche Zeitung  22.02.2018

Ahmet Altan ist ein türkischer Intellektueller, der für internationale #freeXY-Kampagnen eher wenig infrage kommt, weil ihm das Merkmal der Verletzlichkeit fehlt. In seinem langen Leben (er ist 67, wirkt aber überhaupt nicht gebrechlich, sondern wie ein Boxer im Ruhestand) hat er schon mehr als 300 Klagen überstanden, saß auch schon mal im Knast und hat, wenn nicht alles täuscht, in den vergangenen drei Jahrzehnten immer offen gesagt, was er denkt. Für diese – im besten Sinne – Schnauze wird er in der Türkei geschätzt und geliebt.

Vom ersten Manne im Staate, also von Recep T. Erdoğan, wurde er hingegen sehr gefürchtet. Sonst hätte Erdoğan diesen großen Intellektuellen nicht zu lebenslanger Haft verurteilen lassen. Eine andere Interpretation lässt das Urteil gegen Altan und seinen Bruder Mehmet (ebenfalls ein einflussreicher Intellektueller) und die Journalistin Nazlı Ilıcak, gefällt am vergangenen Freitag, also just dem Tag der Freilassung von Deniz Yücel, leider nicht zu. Altan ist kein deutscher Journalist, wie Yücel, der Erdoğan ebenfalls gereizt hat, ohne dass Erdoğan freilich sein deutsches Leben, seine taz-Artikel zum Beispiel kennen würde. Den alten Altan aber kennt Erdoğan sehr gut, Altans Worte tun richtig weh.

Continue reading ““Ich bin bereit, im Gefängnis zu sterben””

Par Levent Yılmaz  Le Monde  19.02. 2018

Le 2 février 2009, s’est déroulée une cérémonie à l’église Sainte Irène, la plus ancienne église d’Istanbul, désacralisée et désormais dévouée aux concerts, cérémonies et expositions. Sur la scène, le premier ministre turc de l’époque, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Il était là pour décerner le grand prix pour les arts et la culture du ministère de la culture. Son discours débuta par ces paroles : « Il n’était nullement facile d’accepter les différences et la diversité en Turquie ; les préjugés rigides et les attitudes intolérantes avaient clôturé la pensée et son expression ; la Turquie en était victime. »

Le lauréat du grand prix était le grand romancier Çetin Altan. Un geste symbolique de la part de la République, car Çetin Altan, né en 1927, était un journaliste et romancier socialiste très influent. Il fut parmi les quinze premiers députés socialistes du Parlement entre 1965 et 1969. En 1968, au beau milieu du Parlement, il avait été lynché et avait failli perdre son œil. A l’époque du coup d’Etat de 1971, il avait été arrêté, condamné et avait passé deux ans de sa vie en prison. Ce fut le cas de nombreux autres écrivains de la Turquie moderne, à commencer par Nazim Hikmet et Yaşar Kemal. Lui rendre un hommage en lui décernant le Grand Prix, était une sorte de demande de pardon de l’Etat aux opposants, même les plus farouches.

Erdogan poursuivit : « Ce genre de cérémonie offre la possibilité d’une autocritique. La vie de Çetin Altan a été traversée par des tempêtes, des ouragans. Il a mis en avant une critique souriante mais féroce, enrobée d’intelligence, de la culture. Nous ne pouvons pas progresser sans la raison critique. Il faut qu’on apprenne à tolérer la critique ; nous ne pouvons pas réaliser notre pari de civilisation sans la liberté d’expression, sans la pensée, l’écriture et la liberté de parole. Le fondement de…

To continue reading the article please click here.

Il Sussidiario

La notizia della condanna all’ergastolo a carico dello scrittore Altan e di altri cinque giornalisti, arriva nella medesima giornata in cui è stata annunciata la liberazione del reporter turco-tedesco Deniz Yücel. La conferma, come riporta Il Foglio, è giunta nella giornata odierna con una foto postata su Twitter e che immortala il giornalista turco-tedesco con una mano di fiori tra le mani mentre abbraccia sua moglie, lasciandosi alle spalle il filo spinato della prigione. Il giornalista ha trascorso in carcere ben 366 giorni senza alcuna accusa formale e diversi mesi addirittura in isolamento in una prigione di massima sicurezza appena fuori Istanbul. A distanza di un anno, oggi un tribunale della Turchia ha disposto la sua liberazione. L’uomo era stato accusato di aver fatto “propaganda per un’organizzazione terroristica” e “fomentato l’odio e l’ostilità”. Secondo il governo turco, il corrispondente della Die Welt Yucel sarebbe reo anche di spionaggio per l’intelligence tedesca. (Aggiornamento di Emanuela Longo)  Continue reading “Lo scrittore Altan all’ergastolo: la mobilitazione internazionale”

On February 16, 2018 Ahmet Altan has been sentenced to life in prison. PEN America has issued a press release, calling the judgment “a horrific assault on freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Turkey, and on the rights and liberties of these individuals.”

 

Stessa pena inflitta ad altri cinque giornalisti

Marta Ottaviani  La Stampa 17.02.2018

Un anno fa, a La Stampa, dalla prigione dove era recluso, aveva detto «non so che ne sarà di me». E ieri la magistratura turca ha deciso che le porte del carcere per Ahmet Altan e altri cinque giornalisti, fra cui suo fratello, Mehmet, devono rimanere chiuse per sempre. Il tribunale di Istanbul ha riconosciuto i sei reporter colpevoli di aver cercato di sovvertire l’ordine costituzionale e di essere membri di Feto, il network di Fethullah Gülen, ex imam in autoesilio negli Usa, un tempo alleato…  Continue reading “Turchia, ergastolo allo scrittore Altan: “È un terrorista””

  

Sur l’écran suspendu au plafond, les deux hommes aux cheveux blancs agitent la main pour saluer, et envoient des baisers. Ahmet et Mehmet Altan sont en visioconférence de leur prison, et répondent aux signes envoyés par une partie du public en direction de la caméra, un bref moment d’humanité, “volé” aux juges et aux gendarmes qui font régner l’ordre dans la minuscule salle d’audience du palais de justice d’Istanbul.

Ahmet et Mehmet Altan, deux frères bien connus en Turquie, le premier journaliste et romancier, le second auteur et universitaire, risquent trois peines de prison à vie. Ils sont accusés d’avoir commis “un crime” au nom d’une organisation terroriste sans en faire partie, d’avoir tenté de renverser l’ordre constitutionnel, le Parlement, et le gouvernement de la République de Turquie. Rien que ça, et dans le dossier il n’y a que trois chroniques et une émission de télévision supposée contenir des “messages subliminaux” émis à la veille de la tentative de coup d’Etat de juillet 2016…

Continue reading ““Quelle justice est-ce là ?””

Die FR würdigt auf der Buchmesse den inhaftierten türkischen Schriftsteller Ahmet Altan. Er sitzt wegen seiner Arbeit als Autor seit mehr als einem Jahr in Haft.

 Von Frankfurter Rundschau,  12.10.2107

Der türkische Journalist und Schriftsteller Ahmet Altan kann nicht zur Frankfurter Buchmesse kommen. Der Grund ist so simpel wie tragisch: Er sitzt wegen seiner Arbeit als Autor in Haft, noch immer, auch mehr als ein Jahr nach seiner Festnahme und trotz internationaler Proteste. Angeblich soll Ahmet Altan in einer Fernsehdiskussion am Vorabend des Putschversuchs in der Türkei „subtile Botschaften“ zugunsten der Putschisten von sich gegeben haben.

Der 67-Jährige gehört zu den 15 türkischen Journalisten, für deren Freilassung sich die Frankfurter Rundschau in einer Solidaritätskampagne einsetzt. In einem Essay mit dem Titel „Das Paradox des Schriftstellers“, den er der FR zukommen ließ, beschreibt Altan seine Situation im Gefängnis Silivri bei Istanbul, in dem auch viele andere Intellektuelle einsitzen, etwa der Journalist Deniz Yücel oder der Menschenrechtler Peter Steudtner aus Deutschland.

To read the full article in German, please click here.

Posted on Twitter by @Erdal_Korkmaz, this photo shows one of many sketches of Ahmet Altan that adorn streets of Paris as part of a campaign by RSF.

Par Pierre Haski, Journaliste, président de Reporters sans frontières — 

Ahmet Altan est un journaliste et romancier turc réputé de 67 ans. Adresse actuelle : prison de Silivri, Istanbul. Je suis, depuis quelques jours, le «parrain» d’Ahmet Altan, bien qu’il n’ait pas réellement besoin d’un parrain, et encore moins besoin de qui que ce soit pour le défendre, il fait très bien ça lui-même…

Continue reading “Journalistes, nous sommes à leur côté”

Ahmet Altan’s celebrated novels Kılıç Yarası Gibi (Like a Sword Wound), İsyan Günlerinde Aşk (Love in the Days of Rebellion), Ölmek Kolaydır Sevmekten (Dying is Easier Than Loving), and a concluding novel, a sequel to the other three, will be published in world languages under the name “the Ottoman Quartet.”

Sandro Ferri, (who also publishes Elena Ferrante, the enigmatic author of the bestselling four-volume series Neapolitan Novels), has recently signed a deal with Altan to publish his books in English and Italian and sell translation rights of the four novels to other languages.

Continue reading “Ahmet Altan on world stage with the Ottoman Quartet”

Novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan testifies in “insult” case, says the court case “should be dropped if Erdoğan and I are equal before the law”

PUNTO24 / March 2, 2017 Istanbul

Renowned journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan appeared on Thursday before a judge in the latest hearing of a case in which he is charged with “insulting the president” in remarks during a television program in September.

Altan, held in pre-trial detention since September in a separate case in which he faces accusations of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey” and “membership in a terrorist organization,” said the court case against him should be dropped on the basis of a previous ruling handed down in response to an insult complaint against Erdoğan.

Continue reading “If a novelist becomes president…”

Judith Butler, Antonio Negri, Edgar Morin join signers of letter in support of Turkish writers; Roberto Saviano dedicates award to Altan brothers

K24 / September 16, 2016 Istanbul

Support for an international letter protesting the recent detention of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan and calling on end to the unjust persecution of writers in Turkey has continued to grow in the fourth day after the letter was made public.

On the fifth day of the Altan brothers’ detention, the letter has found 241 signatures from some of the world’s most well-known writers, intellectuals, academics, publishers and actors. The most recent signers include American philosopher Judith Butler, the celebrated Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Negri –viewed as the leading theoretician for the left– and the French philosophers Edgar Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy and Judith Revel. Nobel laureates J.M. Coetzee, Herta Müller and Orhan Pamuk are among the original signatories of the letter.

Italian journalist and writer Roberto Saviano, who’d signed the support letter on the first day, won the prestigious M100 Sanssouci Media Award at the Sanssouci Colloquium in Potsdam, Germany on Sept. 15.

In his acceptance speech at the ceremony, where Chancellor Angela Merkel was also present, Saviano said he dedicated his award to Ahmet and Mehmet Altan.

Continue reading “Leading philosophers support Turkey’s writers”