Prime Minister Melen on the freedom of press
From Cumhuriyet 7 January 1973
Prime Minister Melen, in reply to a question about whether freedom of the press exists in Turkey, said: ‘ As you know, neither the Constitution, nor the Penal Code, nor the Press Code was modified in a manner which can be said to limit freedom of the press. It follows, therefore, that freedom of the press exists. But, it should always be borne in mind that there also exists Martial Law. The allegations that freedom of the press and the freedom of expression have been restricted are completely unjustified. On the contrary, the press now enjoys many facilities previously denied to it. They can, for example, buy their paper and ink freely.’ When asked of his opinion on the unprecedented number of journalists arrested in recent years, Prime Minister Melen said: ‘ I do not think that they are arrested because they are journalists. They are arrested because they have violated the laws. Do you not think so?’ When reminded that a number of journalists were arrested and eventually convicted for their political views, Prime Minister Melen said: ‘ I think we must agree on the definition of ” freedom of expression “. It, of course, does not mean that anybody can say whatever he likes. If a journalist undermines the foundations of the State or propagates communist ideas in his writings, this must not be regarded as a part of freedom of expression or freedom of the press.
Osman Turkay: International federation of Journalists in Istanbul
Further light on the situation of the press was shed when the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ) held their 11th General Assembly in Istanbul in September last year. Osman Turkay, a Turkish-Cypriot writer living in this country, describes the proceedings.
On Monday, 11 September 1972 the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ) with the participation of about 70 delegates from the member countries, opened the meetings of their 11th General Assembly in Istanbul. The main item on the agenda was press freedom both in Turkey and the rest of the world. Holland and Western Germany had boycotted the General Assembly on the grounds that press freedom was severely restricted in Turkey and in the existing circumstances, Turkish journalists would not be able to speak their minds. This claim was not entirely without foundation, and it came as no surprise to those who did attend the meetings that secret agents of the so-called Melenist democracy had been planted among everybody from the people sitting in the waiting-room to the cleaners of the meeting hall. Detectives posing as journalists were recording every single detail of what was said. The meeting hall was, in fact, under heavy guard.
On one occasion the President of the American Union of Journalists, Mr Charles A. Perlik, missed the coach taking the foreign delegates to the meeting. He was staying at the Tarabya Hotel in Bosphorus. He called a taxi to take him to Cagaloglu, where the congress was taking place, but as he was about to get into the car, three young men came up to him, brought out their cards proving their identity as detectives, and asked whether they could accompany him to the meeting hall. Mr Perlik refused, but he later informed the Turkish Union of Journalists about the incident. The following day while talking with Mr Karl Gustave Mihanek, the International President of the FIJ , he made this protest:
‘The congress has been unsuccessful in only one matter and that was the release of the imprisoned Turkish journalists. I would much appreciate it if Turkish policemen, instead of guarding us here, would go and release those Turkish journalists. Or if our friend the policeman who here, at this very moment, is taking notes as if he were a journalist, would go instead and concern himself with the safety of the Turks outside this meeting hall.’
Heartened by the encouraging speeches of support made by their guests, Turkish journalists began to talk freely. But on one occasion Mr Yusuf Mardin, the acting Director of Press and Broadcasting, was observed in the meeting hall saying quietly to Mr Sadullah Usumi, the President of the Turkish Union of Journalists: ‘You dare to do this here, but don’t forget that when the torrents have gone away, the sands are left behind!’
Although these words contained an open threat, it was disregarded. At that moment the speaker was Mr Bulent Eçevit, the leader of the Republican People’s Party, who was a journalist of longstanding, and he was talking about the importance of press freedom. He remarked that in the countries where freedom of expression was restricted, people were deprived of an opportunity to expound their own ideas about the problems they faced. But Mr Turhan Feyzioglu, the leader of the small party to which Mr Melen, the Prime Minister belongs, shouted out: ‘Take care! He is inciting you against the government!’
On the first day of the International Congress press freedom in Turkey and Greece were given priority. But meanwhile the National Union of Turkish Journalists had issued a report concerning the current situation of the Turkish press designed to coincide with the opening of the International Congress. In this report, the Turkish Union pointed out that freedom of the press was part and parcel of a political whole, and also claimed that changes in the law introduced during the previous two years had restricted that freedom. The report said that both government and economic pressures were brought to bear on the progressive press.’ This new state of affairs, which we hope will be transitional, not only restricts freedom but also attempts to reduce the effectiveness of the press to nil. In these circumstances journalists have had to place controls on themselves to such an extreme degree that they have avoided printing even the most innocent reports.’
On 13 September a delegation of six journalists representing the International Congress visited the four Turkish journalists in Cagmalsilar Prison in Istanbul. Mr Kenneth Morgan, President of the National Union of British Journalists, was in the delegation, and he interviewed the imprisoned journalists. This interview he read out to the Congress the following day, and immediately afterwards the Congress requested the Turkish authorities to release the journalists from prison.
On 15 September, the International Congress of the FIJ ended. It closed with a serious warning to the Turkish authorities, saying that although the situation was different from that in Greece, Turkey might nevertheless find herself placed in the dock by the Council of Europe if she did not change her policy of oppression. In the communique issued at the end of the Congress, the following passage regarding Turkey was included:
‘We call upon the Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press and freedom of thought in accordance with the rules and principles of the Turkish Constitution, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the European Human Rights Convention which Turkey has signed. Our Congress wishes to make it known that these principles have been undermined by Turkey and that the political and economic pressures exerted on the Turkish press give cause for concern. Turkey should return to the principles of her constitution and fulfill her international obligations in order to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression.’
‘Hope’ fades: How a film jury came to change its mind
On Thursday 28 September 1972 Mr Yilmaz Güney, the famous Turkish film-star, and Mr Abdurrahman Keskiner, the film director, were brought under armed guard into the dock of the Central Criminal Court in Istanbul, to be tried for smuggling a film called ‘Hope’ out of Turkey in order to enter it in the Cannes Film Festival. Meanwhile at the Gold Cocoon Film Festival being held in Adana in Southern Turkey, a majority on the jury had voted in favour of awarding the first prize to another of Mr Güney’s films, entitled Baba (‘The Father’), and they named him Turkey’s best male film star. Osman Turkay comments:
The news appeared in all the headlines the next day and even the state-controlled Turkish Broadcasting and TV Services gave prominence to the story. But things were not so smooth as they appeared. At Adana, the head of the film jury, Mr Sevket Rado, made preparations to leave together with three other members of the jury, and refused to attend the Festival Banquet because he claimed that six of the members of the jury who had voted in favour of Mr Güney were ‘intellectually conditioned people, which is to say that they sat on the jury simply in order to award first prize to an accused man’. Mr Rado said that this was obviously the case because those who had voted in favour of Mr Güney now wanted their voting cards to be burned. The real reason was more probably fears about their sympathies becoming known, such being the formidable power of censorship. However, Mr Rado put the cards into a sealed bag which he then delivered to the authorities.
Although Mr Rado and the three members of the jury had intended to leave Adana in protest, the Lord Mayor and the authorities managed to persuade them to stay and revise the jury’s decision. This they did, meeting the following day at the Lord Mayor’s Palace and altering the decision, which had already been made public, so that Mr. Güney and his film were excluded from the competition. The first prize was now awarded to Karadogan and Mr Cüneyt Arkin was named as the film star of the year. Mr Arkin, however, refused to accept the prize. Despite the ensuing scandal the head of the jury, Mr Rado, was apparently too busy to announce the new results of the Gold Cocoon Film Competition and made no attempt to counter the allegations of hidden censorship.
Meanwhile Mr. Güney was defending himself before the Military Tribunal in Istanbul. Six months earlier he had been arrested and imprisoned in the Selimiye Kişla, which had originally been built by Sultan Selim as military headquarters. He had once before been sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment on charges of communist propaganda. Now he was under arrest for smuggling his film ‘ Hope’ out of Turkey without a licence. The film had been banned in Turkey shortly after they had decided to send it to Cannes. The military prosecutor had asked for a five-year sentence on this charge alone. Yet Mr Güney talked optimistically and full of confidence:
‘From the beginning of my artistic life until yesterday, I did my best to bring the Turkish film industry up to a contemporary level. Yes, I did indeed send out of Turkey a film which was considered to be of great artistic value in Turkish culture. But my ultimate objective was to win an international prize on behalf of my country. It will only be an honour for me to have been punished for this ideal.’
The director of the film, Mr Abdurrahman Keskiner, who was also charged, defended Mr Güney and himself by telling the crowded courtroom:
‘Yilmaz [Güney] and I made this film specially for a competition. It won the Gold Cocoon first prize last year and was warmly praised by the Turkish Press. After that we decided to send it to the Cannes Film Festival. But just at that time the Central Film Commission banned it. We objected to this decision and the Commission lifted the ban. Then a man called Ahmet Saygili came to Turkey from Germany and took the film to the Cannes Festival. But we were too late. So our film was only shown at the Directors’ Festivities where it earned the title of one of the best ten films.’
Mr Güney was subsequently released pending police investigations into his case, and his trial was adjourned. Editor.
After the proclamation of martial law in Turkey the military authorities issued a series of lists of forbidden books and authorised the confiscation of books from booksellers and publishers. INDEX has received copies of two such lists, of which the one published here is most complete. The books are listed under the names of the publishers that issued them.
Urban Guerrillas: C.Marighela (translated)
Fascism and the Revolutionary Popular Front: Cetin Özek (Turkish)
Diary of a Guerrilla: Che Guevara (translated)
Fundamental Book of Marxism: E. Burns (translated)
Progressive Movements in Turkey: Y. Sertel (Turkish)
File on Greece: K. Kakalas (translated)
Black Power: S. Carmichael (translated)
The Book of Honour: S. Senel Han (Turkish)
The Giant With Blue Eyes: Z. Sertel (Turkish)
The People’s War in Palestine and the Middle East: N. Havatme (translated)
Capitalism in Turkey and Class Struggles: A.Snurov and Y.Rozaliev (translated)
Like a Novel: S.Sertel (Turkish)
A Handbook of Marxist Economy: E.Mandel (translated)
National Liberation Movements in the East: Lenin (translated)
SER PRESS PUBLICATIONS
Lessons of October: Trotsky (translated)
Selected Works, Vol. II Book 1 and Selected Works Vol. I: Mao Tse Tung (translated)
On Culture and Cultural Revolution: Lenin (translated)
Economic Policy from the Marxist Angle: J.Ibarrolla (translated)
United Front Against Fascism: G.Dimitrov (translated)
Party Struggles in the Mass: Lenin (translated)
Socialist Revolution in Vietnam: Le Duan (translated)
The Theory of Relativity: A.Einstein (translated)
On Youth: G.Dimitrov (translated)
PAYEL PRESS Publications
Arts and Literature: Lenin (translated)
Which Inheritance of Thoughts We Deny: Lenin (translated)
The Development of Capitalism in Russia: Lenin (translated)
My Friend Che Guevara: R.Rolo (translated)
The Economic Content of Popularism: Lenin (translated)
Socialism and Political Struggle: G.V.Plekhanov (translated)
Peasants’ Struggles in Germany: F.Engels (translated)
Manuscripts of 1844: K.Marx (translated)
People’s Comintern in China: Helen Marchisio (translated)
The Establishment of Socialism in the Soviet Union: A.Fadeyev (translated)
Inferno of Treblinka: V.Grossman (translated)
People’s Democracies: P.Paraf (translated)
Fundamental Problems of Marxist Ideology: G.V.Plekhanov (translated)
New Democracy: Mao Tse Tung (translated)
Cement (novel): Gladkov (translated)
Fundamental Principles of Socialist Philosophy: G.Politzer (translated)
Labour, Price and Profit: K.Marx (translated)
Dialectical Materialism: Kusinen (translated)
National Liberation Movements in Africa: B. Davidson (translated)
Classes in Capitalist Societies: M. Bouvier (translated)
Marxism and Language: J.V.Stalin (translated)
German Ideology: K.Marx (translated)
ÖNCÜ (Vangard) Publications
Politics and Philosophy: Marx and Engels (translated)
Manifesto:Marx and Engels (translated)
Epics of September (poems): G.Milef (translated)
Memoirs 1893-1917 (seized while printing at printers’ plant): Lenin (translated)
From Hegel to Marx-Studies of Ideological Developments in Marx (seized while printing at printers): (writer unknown)
Scientific Communism (seized at the printers): (writer unknown)
An Anthology of Soviet Poets (67 poets): Compiled by Attila Tokatli and Ülkü Tamer
Friedrich Engels: P.Louis (translated)
Women and Communism: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin
An Introduction to the Criticism of Economic Politics: Marx (translated)
Sociology of Marx: H.Levebre (translated)
The First International: J.Duclos (translated)
Philosophy of Hegel and the Historical Consciousness of Marx: M.Beer (translated)
Gracchus Babeuf: J.Lepine (translated)
Social Classes in Turkish Society: Ibrahim Türk (Turkish)
Socialist Turkey: A.Faik (Turkish)
Letters: Lenin (translated)
The Capitalist Exploitations: A.Barjonet (translated)
Women and Socialism: A.Bebel (translated)
Chinese Revolution and Aftermath: J.J.Brieux (translated)
What is meant by Marxist Philosophy?: W.Rochet (translated)
Disintegration of the Left in Turkey: Dr C.Yetkin (Turkish)
The Forest: W.J.Pomeroj (translated)
Strategy and Tactics for Youth: A.Faik Cihan (Turkish)
Marxism in the Twentieth Century: R.Garaudy (translated)
Lenin: J.Stalin (translated)
The American Communist Party: Ahmet Agin (Turkish)
The Leipzig Trial: E.Fischer (translated)
Anarchism: Kropotkin (translated)
Newspapers & periodicals
This is a provisional list of newspapers and periodicals that have been closed down by the authorities for varying periods of time. The date of the closure order is given on the right.
Cumhuriyet: 28 April 1971
Aksam: 28 April 1971
Işci Köylü, Devrim, Proleter Devrimci Aydinlik: 29 April 1971
Türkiye Solu, Aydinlik Sosyalist Dergi, Dagyeli
Ant, BugUn, Babialide Sabah: 30 April 1971
Emek: 2 May 1971
Vatandas, Cukurova: 27 May 1971
Ittihad: 8 June 1971
Dünya, Yeni Asya, Bizim Anadolu: 8 July 1971
Four newspapers in Diyarbakir: 10 August 1971
Halkin Dostlari: 13 September 1971
Hüryol, Adalet, Vatandas: 13 September 1971
Ortam: 8 October 1971
Ege Ekspres, Günaydin: 12 October 1971
Bizim Anadolu: 24 October 1971
Yanki: 8 November 1971
Demokrat Izmir: 23 November 1971
Aksam: 17 February 1972
Baris: 13 March 1972
Günaydin: 16 March 1972
Son Havadis: 2 May 1972
Yeni Gun: 7 June 1972
Toplum: November 1972
Yeni Ortam: November 1972
Hürriyet: January 1973
Detained and arrested
These are some of the journalists, writers and faculty members who have been detained or arrested.
Cetin Altan, Dogan Kologlu, Ilhan Selcuk, Erol Türegtün, Oktay Kurtböke, Gafsan Seyfettinoglu, Süleyman Galioglu, Dogan Avcioglu, Ilhami Soysal, Nurettin Pirim, Ali Sirmen, Tanju Cilizoglu, Altan Ӧymen, Osman Saffet Arolat, Emil Galip Sandalci, Esin Talu Celikkan, Yasar Uçar, Vahap Erdogdu, Mete Dural, Özer Esmer.
Fakir Baykurt, Yasar Kemal, Samin Kocagöz, Aziz Nesin, Nevzat Ustün, Hasan Izzettin Dinamo, Fazil Husnü Daglarca, Dursun Akçam,Sabahattin Eyüboglu, Azra Erhad, Tahsin Saraç, Sevgi Soysal, Nihat Behram, Siar Yalçin, Ali Faik Cihan, Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, Musa Anter, Erdal Ӧz, Faik Muzaffer Amaç, Sina Ciladir.
Erdal Boratap, Sezai Colakoglu, Ela Güntekin, Sahabettin Kalgay, Semih Sermet, Ayhan Karapars, Fatma Ipek Erkeller.
Matilda Gökçeli, Seçkin Cagan, Abdullah Nefes, Tektas Agaoglu, Can Yücel.
Muzaffer Erdost, Masis Kürkçügil, Ilhan Kalaylioglu, Süleyman Ege, Cigdem Ӧzgüden, Zeki Oztürk, Ramazan Yasar, Bülend Habora, Necdet Sander, Kemal Karatekin, Vedat Günyol.
Yilmaz Güney, Asik Fermani, Bülend Balakoglu, Turban Selçuk, Muammer Sun, Ayse Emel Mesçi, Zeymep Sagnak, Mustafa Coskun, Avni Yalçin, Vasig Ongören, Erkan Yücel, Ayse Semra Erdogmus, Metin Erksan, Penina Bencoya, Mehmet Keskinoglu, Asik Mahzuni.
University professors’and lecturers
Mümtaz Soysal, Tarik Zafer Tunaya, Ismet Sungurbey, Muammer Aksoy, Bahri Savci, Cetin Ozek, Dogu Perinçek, Ugur Alacakaptan, Bülend Nuri Esen, Cahit Talas, Rauf Nasuhoglu, Burhan Cahit Unal, Nihat Sisli, Oguz Aksu, Behice Boran, Sadun Aren, Oya Köymen, Oya Sencer, Oruç Bilgiç, Mehmet Selik, Ӧzer Ozankaya, Mete Tuncay,
Ismail Besikçi, Idris Küçükömer, Aydin Karagözoglu, FerhanBaydak, Muzaffer Sipahioglu, Caglar Kirçak, Aysel Ӧgüt, Edip Yazgan, Erdem Aksoy, Kemal Erdogdu, Mukbil Ӧzyörük, Adil Özkol, Ugur Mumcu, Halil Berktay, Nuri Colakoglu, Eyüp Cüneyd Akalin, Omer Madra, Ahmet Gürcan Kumrulu.