Representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and PEN International who arrived in Istanbul's Silivri district to watch the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial met with a dubious surprise when the realized that their files pertaining to the trial had been stolen from their automobile despite the presence of gendarmerie troops 15 meters away.
Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, the chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, Alexis Krikorian, the IPA's Freedom to Publish Director, Sara Whyatt, the director of PEN's Writers in Prison Committee, and PEN International's Deputy Chair Eugene Schoulgin arrived in Istanbul to monitor the trial and show their solidarity with the writers, journalists and publishers facing charges within the scope of the KCK probe.
An unidentified thief then broke into the vehicle that Simonsen, Krikorian and Whyatt had arrived at the courthouse with and stole their files pertaining to the KCK case, a cell phone and a computer.
Sara Whyatt said it was "very strange" that the act of theft had taken place with gendarmerie troops standing guard only 15 meters away and that the thief had specifically chosen their car among dozens of others.
"They robbed the car in a professional manner without breaking the windows. The envelope [containing] 4,000 euros in the vehicle was untouched. Only the money inside the [case] file was stolen. Of course, we can call it a 'coincidence' that our car was selected among so many others and that the file had been stolen. This caused us some paranoia, however, as to whether we were being 'followed.' If we went through this paranoia due to such a minute incident; [then it must be very] difficult for the writers and journalists here to live with this paranoia every day," Whyatt said.
"Everyone is a terrorist"
The IPA's Freedom to Publish Director Alexis Krikorian also referred to Monday's KCK trial as a "politically [motivated] case" and stressed the inexplicableness of the court's refusal to allow the suspects to issue their pleas in their mother tounges, namely Kurdish.
They had worked together with Ragıp Zarakolu for long years to remove the barriers that lie before the freedom of speech, Krikorian noted.
Krikorian further said it was unacceptable that authorities had now begun trying Zarakolu, the owner of the Belge Publishing House, the chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee in Turkey and a Nobel Peace Prize candidate nominee.
"There used to be article 301 in the past, but now everyone is a terrorist due to the vagueness [of the wording] in the Anti-Terror Law. People imprisoned because of the Ergenekon [trial] on one hand and those arrested in the KCK case on the other are all [invariably] called terrorists. This should immediately be rectified," Krikorian said.
Krikorian also expressed their shock with respect to European Union Minister and Chief Negotiatior Egemen Bağış's comments on the BBC that the persons behind bars were not writers or journalists but "thieves and rapists."
"Turkey still [ranks at the top among countries] that have a case file pending at the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) with respect to the freedom of speech. It [amounts to] a fascistic attitude for a minister to come up and tell such a lie despite this [fact,]" he said.
In spite of some improvements that took place in Turkey in recent years with respect to the freedom of expression, the current state of affairs today still reflect a regression with officials putting some books on trial for their alleged immorality, Whyatt also noted. (NV)