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Orhan Pamuk Is No Traitor: Informed Sources

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  • Orhan Pamuk Is No Traitor: Informed Sources


    National Post (Canada)
    September 16, 2005 Friday
    National Edition

    source The Spectator

    The following editorial appeared in Britain's Spectator magazine on
    Sept. 10.

    Over the past years, The Spectator has been a staunch defender of
    Turkey and its right to join the European Union, negotiations for which
    begin on Oct. 3. We have praised its economy, its founder-membership
    of Nato and condemned the many Turkophobes within the EU.

    A rarity among nations with Muslim majorities, it holds proper
    elections and, for the most part, maintains a legal system that most in
    the West would regard as fair. It has 70 million industrious citizens
    who want to trade on equal terms.

    It would be a tragedy, therefore, if Turkish membership of the
    EU were to be jeopardized by Turkey's ugly treatment of its most
    prominent novelist, Orhan Pamuk. Last week, Mr. Pamuk was charged
    under Article 301/1 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it an
    offence to insult the Republic of Turkey, punishable with between
    six months and three years imprisonment -- increased by a third if
    the offence was committed abroad.

    Mr. Pamuk's crime was to make reference, in an interview with Swiss
    newspaper Tagesanzeiger in February, to Turkey's ethnic cleansing
    of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 and to its ill-treatment of Kurds
    since 1984. "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed
    in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it," he said.

    It goes without saying that jailing people for raising such issues is
    unacceptable in a modern democracy. Orhan Pamuk is no traitor. On the
    contrary, he is seen in the literary world as a great ambassador for
    his homeland, whose work shows a deep love of his country and who has
    been able to straddle the gap between East and West. He simply wishes
    to be free to discuss a couple of dark episodes in Turkey's history.

    To give it some credit, the Turkish government does not entirely deny
    that a large number of Armenians came to a bad end around 1915. The
    prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, recently announced his desire to
    establish a commission of historians to judge whether or not genocide
    took place. Yet no democracy should seek to legislate in favour of
    one official version of history.

    Rather, it should tolerate a free market in ideas, knowing that it is
    lively debate which best ensures that the truth eventually seeps out.

    Orhan Pamuk's accusations of the scale of Turkish maltreatment of
    Armenians and Kurds are supported by eyewitness accounts.

    An American diplomat filed a report at the time speaking of Ottoman
    soldiers, aided by Kurdish tribesmen, "sweeping the countryside,
    massacring men, women and children and burning their homes. Babies were
    shot in their mothers' arms, small children were horribly mutilated,
    women were stripped and beaten." Pamuk's accusations are supported,
    too, by Halil Berktay, a professor at Sabanci University, who puts
    the numbers of dead at between 800,000 and one million.

    But even if Pamuk's charges were nonsense, it would be no excuse for
    jailing him. A confident nation has no need to suppress free speech,
    knowing that anyone who makes false accusations against their country's
    past for political reasons will rapidly be crushed beneath the weight
    of counter-evidence.

    Admittedly, Turkey's problem over Armenia and the Kurds is not limited
    to the government: 80% of respondents to a recent opinion poll said
    they could do without EU membership if it meant having to admit to
    past genocide. But if Turkey wants to join the EU, and become a full
    member of the wider club of Western democracies, it simply has to
    face up to its past, and to its present democratic failings. Article
    301/1 of its penal code must go.

  • #2
    I am wondering, how come Mr. Bob Dole is so quite on this one? Doesn’t it make you go hmmmmmmmmmm??????


    • #3
      Turkish author calls for full EU membership for homeland

      Mon Oct 3, 2:00 PM ET

      BERLIN (AFP) - As Turkey appeared close to reaching agreement with the European Union to start accession talks, controversial Turkish author Orhan Pamuk called for his homeland to be allowed full membership.

      "Despite all the criticism of Turkey, I am in favour of it having full membership of the European Union," Pamuk said ahead of receiving a cultural prize awarded by the German city of Darmstadt.

      Turkey was due to begin membership negotiations on Monday but Austria's reservations over the talks with the predominantly Muslim state forced foreign ministers into intense negotiations to resolve the standoff.

      Austria had said it wanted the possibility written into the negotiations that Turkey may eventually only be allowed special partnership status rather than full membership, but late on Monday it dropped its opposition.

      Pamuk, who was recently charged under Turkey's criminal code with insulting the national identity after remarks he made about a massacre under the Ottoman Empire, compared the opposition to his country joining Europe's club of 25 nations to someone hanging a "No Entry" sign on the door.

      "The people who have hung up this sign to protect their security, their possessions and their beliefs, do they have any idea how much they are insulting others?" Pamuk asked.

      Pamuk, the widely translated author of such internationally renowned works as "The White Castle" and "Snow", is set to go on trial in December for telling a Swiss newspaper in February that "one million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it".

      He has said he has received several death threats since being charged.
      "All truth passes through three stages:
      First, it is ridiculed;
      Second, it is violently opposed; and
      Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

      Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


      • #4
        Orhan Pamuk to receive Peace Prize at Frankfurt Book Fair

        4 E2005 -GERMANY /FRANKFURT
        Cihan News Agency-World

        Famous Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has been named as the winner of the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Publisher and Bookstores Union.
        The Turkish author will receive his prize during the Frankfurt Book Fair which 262 Turkish Publication Houses are due to attend .

        Pamuk, who is facing a court case on charges of denigrating Turks, will receive his prize on October 23 from diplomat and translator Jaochim Sartorius.

        The ceremony will take place at the Frankfurt Paulskirche Church and will be broadcast live by the German ZDF channel.

        The author of "Snow" and "My name is Red" will receive his award of € 250,000 in September during the Frankfurt Book Fair.

        The jury said Turkish author formed bridges between cultures in his works. "By granting the award to Pamuk, we are honoring an unique person. He is tracing the West in the East and the East in the West. He adheres to a culture concept based on knowledge of and respect for others."

        Turkish author Orhan Kemal received the same prize in the past.
        "All truth passes through three stages:
        First, it is ridiculed;
        Second, it is violently opposed; and
        Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

        Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


        • #5
          Test For East And West

          - On both sides of the Bosphorus, Orhan Pamuk’s case matters
          Salman Rushdie

          The work room of the writer Orhan Pamuk looks out over the Bosphorus, that fabled strip of water which, depending on how you see these things, separates or unites — or, perhaps, separates and unites — the worlds of Europe and Asia.

          There could be no more appropriate setting for a novelist whose work does much the same thing. In many books, most recently the acclaimed novel Snow (Knopf, 2004) and the haunting memoir/portrait of his home town, Istanbul: Memories and the City (Knopf, 2005), Pamuk has laid claim to the title, formerly held by Yashar Kemal, of “Greatest Turkish Writer”.

          He is also an outspoken man. In 1999, for example, he refused the title of “state artist”.

          “For years I have been criticizing the state for putting authors in jail, for only trying to solve the Kurdish problem by force and for its narrow-minded nationalism...,” he said. “I don’t know why they tried to give me the prize.”

          He has described Turkey as having “two souls”, and has criticized its human-rights abuses.

          “Geographically we are part of Europe,” he says, “but politically?”

          I spent some days with Pamuk in July, at a literary festival in the pretty Brazilian seaside town of Parati. For those few days he seemed free of his cares, even though, earlier in the year, death threats made against him by Turkish ultranationalists — “He shouldn’t be allowed to breathe,” one said — had forced him to spend two months out of his country.

          But the clouds were gathering. The statement he made to the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger on February 6, 2005, which had been the cause of the ultranationalists’ wrath, was about to become a serious problem once again.

          “Thirty thousand Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in Turkey,” he told the Swiss paper. “Almost no one dares to speak out on this but me.”

          He was referring to the killings by Ottoman forces of thousands of Armenians between 1915 and 1917. Turkey does not contest the deaths, but denies that they amounted to genocide. Pamuk’s reference to “30,000” Kurdish deaths refers to those killed since 1984 in the conflict between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists.

          Debate on these issues has been stifled by stringent laws, some leading to lengthy lawsuits, fines and, in some cases, prison terms. On September 1 Pamuk was indicted by a district prosecutor for the crime of having “blatantly belittled Turkishness” by his remarks. If convicted he faces as long as three years in jail.

          Article 301/1 of the Turkish penal code, under which Pamuk is to be tried, states that “A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years... Where insulting being a Turk is committed by a Turkish citizen in a foreign country, the penalty shall be increased by one third.” So, if Pamuk is found guilty, he faces an additional penalty for having made the statement abroad.

          You would think that the Turkish authorities might have avoided so blatant an assault on their most internationally celebrated writer’s fundamental freedoms at the very moment that their application for full membership of the European Union — an extremely unpopular application in many EU countries — was being considered at the EU summit.

          However, in spite of being a state that has ratified both the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which see freedom of expression as central, Turkey continues to enforce a penal code that is clearly contrary to these same principles and, in spite of widespread global protests, has set the date for Pamuk’s trial. It will begin, unless there is a change of heart, on December 16.

          That Pamuk is criticized by Turkish Islamists and radical nationalists is no surprise. That the attackers frequently disparage his works as obscure and self-absorbed, accusing him of having sold out to the West, is no surprise either. It is, however, disappointing to read intellectuals such as Soli Ozel, a newspaper columnist and a professor of international relations at Istanbul Bilgi University, criticizing “those, especially in the West, who would use the indictment against Pamuk to denigrate Turkey’s progress toward greater civil rights — and toward European Union membership.”

          Ozel wants the charges against Pamuk thrown out at the trial, and accepts that they represent an “affront” to free speech, but he prefers to stress “the distance that the country has covered in the past decade”.

          This seems altogether too weak. The number of convictions and prison sentences under the laws that penalize free speech in Turkey has indeed declined in the past decade, but International PEN’s records show that more than 50 writers, journalists and publishers currently face trial. Turkish journalists continue to protest against the revised penal code, and the International Publishers Association, in a deposition to the UN, has described this revised code as being “deeply flawed”.

          EU commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso says that Turkey’s entry into the EU is by no means assured, that it will have to win over the hearts and minds of the deeply sceptical EU citizenry.

          The Turkish application is being presented, most vociferously by Britain’s prime minister Tony Blair and foreign secretary Jack Straw, as a test case for the EU. To reject it, we are told, would be a catastrophe, widening the gulf between Islam and the West. There is an element of Blairite poppyxxxx in this, a disturbingly communalist willingness to sacrifice Turkish secularism on the altar of faith-based politics.

          But the Turkish application is indeed a test case for the EU: a test of whether the EU has any principles at all. If it has, then its leaders will insist that the charges against Pamuk be dropped at once — there is no need to keep him waiting for justice until December — and further insist on rapid revisions to Turkey’s repressive penal code.

          An unprincipled Europe, which turned its back on great artists and fighters for freedom, would continue to alienate its citizens, whose disenchantment has already been widely demonstrated by the votes against the proposed new constitution.

          So the West is being tested as well as the East. On both sides of the Bosphorus, the Pamuk case matters.

          Read Latest News on Politics, Business, Sports, Bollywood, Technology, and Science on The Telegraph India. Stay with us!
          Attached Files
          "All truth passes through three stages:
          First, it is ridiculed;
          Second, it is violently opposed; and
          Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

          Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


          • #6
            Turkish writer Pamuk expects acquittal, but bitter over court case

            ISTANBUL (AFP) - Prominent Turkish novellist Orhan Pamuk expects to be acquitted over his controversial remarks about the Armenian massacres, but has warned that court cases against intellectuals are damaging Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

            "I do not believe my case will result in a conviction, but one cannot join the EU by making one's writers suffer at the courts," Pamuk, 53, said in an interview with CNN Turk television late Saturday.

            The widely translated author of such internationally renowned works as "My Name Is Red" and "Snow," Pamuk is set to appear before court on December 16 on charges of denigrating Turkish national identity by telling a Swiss newspaper that "one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it."

            He risks a prison term of between six months and three years.

            Pamuk's remarks, which refer to mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, still largely a taboo, and the Kurdish conflict in southeastern Turkey, sparked a public outcry that the writer is selling out national interests.

            Pamuk has said he received several death threats. A provincial official in western Turkey ordered the seizure and destruction of his books, but the order was retracted when the EU-wary government intervened.

            "I'm still standing behind my words," a defiant Pamuk told CNN Turk.

            "My aim was to start a little bit of a discussion on this taboo, because this taboo is an obstacle for our entry into the EU," he said, referring to the killings of Armenians, which many countries have recognized as genocide, much to Ankara's ire.

            "What I say may not be true, you may not agree with me, but I have the right to say it," he said.

            Pamuk said he felt disturbed over what he described as attempts by opponents of Turkey's EU membership to use the court case against him for their own political ends.

            "I support Turkey's bid to join the EU ... but I cannot tell those opponents of Turkey 'It's none of your business whether they try me or not'... So I feel stuck in between. This is a burden," he said.

            During a visit to Turkey earlier this month, EU enlargement commissioner Ollie Rehn lent support to Pamuk by visiting him at his home in Istanbul and lunching with him in a restaurant at the Bosphorus.

            Most recently Pamuk became subject of international attention when his name was widely mentioned among the possible laureates of the Nobel literature prize, eventually awarded to British playwright Harold Pinter on Thursday.
            Attached Files
            "All truth passes through three stages:
            First, it is ridiculed;
            Second, it is violently opposed; and
            Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

            Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)