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'In Turkey, slander and criticism are commingled'


As Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), we have conducted an interview with Mr. Eugene Schoulgin, who is a well-known author and Vice-President of International PEN association (a world-wide organization that stands against the restrictions on freedom of thought and expression, and works for release of imprisoned writers all over the world). Previously, Mr. Schoulgin was elected President of International PEN WIPC (Writers in Prison Committee) from 2000 to 2004.  He travelled many countries and worked for the release of authors, journalists, and publishers including Turkey. As a Norwegian author, Mr. Schoulgin presents himself as “the lover of Turkey”. We met him in London, and talked on several issues including the judiciary, politics and journalism understandings in Turkey, the Ergenekon and KCK cases (academics, writers, and journalists who were or are in prison) and the usual first item on the agenda; the obstacles for the freedom of expression and freedom of thought.

Short Summary of the Interview

“Both Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık are typical examples of interrogating journalist who were imprisoned because they criticised the way that the ruling party and the judiciary are handling the on-going Ergenekon case, Dink murder, and etc…”

“Many of those who absolutely had played a role in the assassination were only “not punished” but also were promoted or changed positions… It is based on the Turkish biased judiciary tradition.”

“In Turkey, slander and criticism are commingled”

“Ragıp Zarakolu was released only because he was nominated for the Nobel peace prize, and three Swedish parliamentarians, who nominated him for the prize, came to Ankara and asked to visit him in prison. He was released suddenly; the authorities also released fourteen other people in order to not to make it obvious that it was just him that they wanted to release.”


“They say: “We cannot interfere with the judicial system’s decisions”, on the other hand everybody knows that the judiciary is under police and political control.”


“You are free as long as you do what they think you should do.”


“In other countries, first, the court should prove that you are guilty. In Turkey, the accused is expected to prove that he or she is innocent. That is untrue and unacceptable.” 


 “You cannot just put people in jail and let them stay there for years and years and then find out that they were not guilty or not.”


“I regarded Turkey as being a hidden military dictatorship.”


“They missed ‘the real Ergenekon’ in Turkey. They used ‘Ergenekon’ to beat the opposition in Turkey, and this has politicized the whole case”


“What is going on in Turkey is a political game between the old establishment and the new establishment.”


“How can it be possible that a country is judged several times in a year (in European Court of Human Rights) and authorities do not seem to be bothered at all?”


“What they do in Turkey is this: if you have certain opinions against the government, then you are a terrorist.”


“I think KCK can be compared with IRA in Ireland. It is the political branch of the movement. There are no clear divisions between PKK and KCK”


“I would say that freedom of expression exists in Turkey. But at the same time, you always run a risk.”


“The political leader in a democracy does not reprimand people… Mr. Erdoğan, has misunderstood and misused his role as PM.”


“Journalism is about investigation. If you are journalist you observe and you investigate. But it is not up to the journalist to say: “I think this man should be in prison. This is not journalism.”


“PM Erdoğan loves to sue people”


Full Text of the Interview :

ResearchTurkey (December, 2012), “Interview with Mr. Eugene Schoulgin: “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Guilty and Terrorist in Turkey””, Vol. I, Issue 9, pp.30-42, Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, ResearchTurkey. (


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