Celebrating Honorary Member Can Dündar

280full-can-dundarBorn in 1961 in Ankara, Can Dündar is a journalist, columnist, and documentarian.  After completing his studies in journalism in Ankara, Dundar went on to obtain a Master’s degree from the London School of Journalism, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara.

Alongside his work as a journalist, Dündar has published over 20 books, produced numerous television programs, and has written and contributed to screenplays and documentaries, most notably Mustafa (2008), chronicling the life of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which Dündar wrote and directed.

Dündar’s primary contribution, however, has been his unwavering dedication to a rigorous brand of journalism that unapologetically demands honesty, transparency, and accountability from its government and political parties.  It is this very dedication, however, that has unfortunately led him into a position of conflict with the Erdoğan regime – a position in which Dündar, at one point, was forced to choose between freedom of speech and freedom itself.

Dündar has contributed to various print publications over the years, including Hürriyet, Nokta, Sabah, and Milliyet, before being appointed in February 2015 as the editor-in-chief of the center-left newspaper Cumhuriyet.  In January 2014, evidence emerged exposing Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks intercepted at the Syrian border, illegally shipping arms to Syrian rebels.  The story’s publication in May 2015 immediately situated Dündar and the daily’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, as prime targets in a regime that is increasingly stifling the freedom of its press.

President Erdoğan filed an individual criminal complaint against Cumhuriyet; as a result, Dündar and Gül were arrested in November 2015 in Istanbul, and charged with espionage, collecting and disclosing state secrets, and supporting an armed terrorist organization.  Dündar and Gül spent over 90 days in pre-trial detention, including periods in isolation and solitary confinement, and although the journalists were freed in late February under a constitutional court ruling, the indictment ultimately led to a conviction on May 6, 2016, in which Dündar was sentenced to a reduced 5 years and 10 months imprisonment, and Gul was sentenced to 5 years.  This devastating decision was immediately followed by an equally drastic event: an attempt on Dündar’s life the same day, on the courthouse steps, during which his wife, Dilek, aided in detaining the shooter.

In August 2016, Can Dündar stepped down from his position as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, though he will still be active as a columnist, and tireless in his personal and professional efforts to protect the freedom of the press in Turkey.  Throughout his persecution, arrest, detention, trial, and appeal, Dündar was adamant in his position to remain in Turkey, to fight from within its borders to preserve media integrity and protect their rights to a free press.  Now, however, upon his release pending appeal, Dündar has left Turkey for the moment, dismayed and unconvinced that he would be able to receive a fair trial under the current regime.  Dündar has stated that, “the state of emergency [is] being used the government as a pretext to control the judiciary”, and as such, it would be highly unlikely for him to receive a just, impartial, or public hearing, offering very little hope of the overturn of his conviction.

The already hostile climate for dissidents and opposition in Turkey was exponentially exacerbated by the coup attempt in July 2016.  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) names Turkey the “world leader in imprisoned journalists”, and their World Press Freedom Index for 2016 ranks the country as 151st of 180.  The organization reports: “[i]n the draconian state of emergency imposed after the abortive coup, the authorities have closed more than 100 media outlets critical of the government, placed 42 journalists in provisional detention and banned many others from travelling abroad”.

Spring 2016 saw the publication of We Are Arrested: A Journalist’s Notes from a Turkish Prison, Dündar’s account of Cumhuriyet’s decision to publish the controversial story, and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment, and the social and political events that led up to and followed the failed July coup.  

In March 2016, Norwegian PEN organized a protest outside of Parliament in support of Dündar, Gül, and several other imprisoned or at-risk journalists in Turkey, such as Aslı Erdoğan.  At this time, Norwegian PEN also announced its decision to adopt Can Dündar as an honorary member, in celebration of his monumental contributions to the protection of freedom of speech and human rights, particularly in the face of severe persecution, threats, and imprisonment.

Dündar has also been honored with the International Press Freedom Award (Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, 2016), and the Prize for the Freedom of Future of the Media (together with Erdem Gül, Leipzig Media Foundation, 2016).  Cumhuriyet also received the Reporters without Borders prize in the media category for 2015.

Perhaps Dündar’s merit is best expressed by the words of Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International:

“Can Dündar belongs to that elite of extraordinarily brave journalists who risk everything so the world can know the truth.”

2016 Tyrkia: Can Dündar og Erdem Gül

Tyrkisk rett har avgjort at rettssaka mot journalistane Can Dündar og Erdem Gül skal gå for lukka dører. Norsk PEN er bekymra for at dette vil føre til svekka rettstryggleik for dei to, og har i dag sendt nye protestbrev til den tyrkiske presidenten og til justisministeren.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Sarayı
06560, Beştepe
Ankara, Turkey

Oslo, 01.04.2016

Your Excellency,

On behalf of Norwegian PEN I need to express serious concern at the Turkish Court’s decision to close the trial of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to the public and press. We believe this undermines their right to a fair trial and is yet another example of attempts by the Turkish authorities to supress all critical reporting. Norwegian PEN urges the court to reopen the trial to public scrutiny and guarantee due process for the defendants.

Our Writers in Prison Committee has chosen Can Dündar as an Honorary Member of Norwegian PEN. As far as we can see, he has solely exercised freedom of expression in his duties as journalist, and we call on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him and other Cumhuriyet staff members. There must be an end to bringing cases against writers and journalists engaging in legitimate political criticism, as Turkey has the obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is a state party.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

4. mars: Stans kneblingen av Tyrkias frie stemmer!

tyrkiademo_heading

Norsk PEN vil i samarbeid med en rekke organisasjoner gjennomføre en markering på Eidsvolls Plass utenfor Stortinget 4. mars kl. 15.00. Dette er på dagen 100 dager siden fengslingen av journalistene Can Dündar og Erdem Gül.

Dündar og Gül ble løslatt 25. februar etter dom i Tyrkias høyesterett som erklærte fengslingen ulovlig. Men siktelsen mot journalistene står ved lag, de risikerer fortsatt livstidsdom for høyforræderi.

Innledning ved Hege Newth Nouri, generalsekretær Norsk PEN
Appeller ved:
William Nygaard, leder Norsk PEN
Ege Dündar, student og sønn av Can Dündar
Harald Stanghelle, leder Norsk Redaktørforening
Vidar Strømme, styremedlem Den internasjonale juristkommisjonen, norsk avdeling

Vi stiller foran Stortinget for å oppfordre Storting og regjering til å sende skarpe protester til sin allierte Nato-partner og medlem i Europarådet; Tyrkia. Myndighetene i Tyrkia forfølger borgere som i skrift eller tale kritiserer presidenten og regjeringen. Dommere, akademikere, forfattere og journalister fengsles.

Blant dem er sjefredaktøren for Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, og lederen av avisens Ankara-kontor, Erdem Gül, som avslørte tyrkiske våpenleveranser til IS i Syria. Påtalemyndighetene har nå lagt ned påstand om dobbelt livstidsfengsel for høyforræderi.

Mange journalister er fengslet på grunn av sine kritiske artikler, og enda flere avventer dommer for å ha utført sin samfunnsoppgave.

Påtalejurister som har etterforsket påstander om grov korrupsjon i president Recep Tayyip Erdogans familie og blant hans medarbeidere, har mistet sine stillinger og blitt straffeforfulgt. Dommere har blitt fengslet for avgjørelser de har truffet.

Akademikere som ber regjeringen starte på nytt fredsprosessen med det kurdiske arbeiderpartiet (PKK) blir beskyldt for å støtte terrorisme.

Myndighetene i Tyrkia blir sterkt kritisert av ledende internasjonale menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner, Europarådet og EU. Tyrkia er helt nede på 149. plass i Reporters Without Borders’ rangering av pressefrihet i verdens stater.

Vi oppfordrer den norske regjeringen og andre politiske aktører til å agere kraftfullt for å bidra til at Tyrkia kan ha en plass blant Europas demokratiske rettsstater. Norge bør sammen med andre land ta initiativ til en statsklage til Den europeiske menneskerettsdomstol (EMD) om systematiske brudd på ytringsfriheten og domstolenes uavhengighet.

Følgende organisasjoner står bak markeringen:
Norsk PEN
Norsk Journalistlag
Norsk Redaktørforening
Mediebedriftenes Landsforening
Norsk Presseforbund
Den norske Forleggerforening
Den norske Helsingforskomité
Norske Barne- og Ungdomsbokforfattere
Dommerforeningen – Juristforbundet
Advokatforeningen
Den internasjonale juristkommisjonen (norsk avdeling)
Den norske Forfatterforening
Norsk Oversetterforening
Norsk faglitterær forfatter- og oversetterforening
Dramatikerforbundet
Norsk Bibliotekforening
Human Rights House Foundation

Og følgende organisasjoner støtter markeringen:
Solidaritet med Kurdistan
Ungdomsorganisasjonen Ungkurd Norge
Kurdisk PEN

Det norske råd for kurdernes rettigheter RKR

2016 Tyrkia: Can Dündar og Erdem Gül

Den tyrkiske journalisten Can Dündar, som er ein av Norsk PENs æresmedlemmer, blei saman med sin kollega Erdem Gül arrestert 26. november i fjor. For alminneleg kritisk journalistikk risikerer dei no livstidsdommar. PEN krever at tyrkiske styresmakter set Dündar og Gül fri og fråfell alle tiltalar mot dei.

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Sarayı
06560, Beştepe
Ankara, Turkey

Oslo, 01.02.2016

Your Excellency,

Norwegian PEN has been deeply concerned at the arrest and detention of one of our Honorary Members, Can Dündar, and his colleague Erdem Gül. Now we are scared by the news that the Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor is seeking an aggravated life sentence against the journalists. The sentences sought are much heavier than expected, and seem totally unreasonable. The whole world can see that the espionage and national security charges against them is just a politically motivated move attempting to censor and silence opposition voices. Together with PEN International we call for the immediate and unconditional release of both journalists.

We call on Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Can Dündar and any other Cumhuriyet staff members which are connected solely to their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression in their duties as journalists. Turkey has the obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a State Party.

We especially appeal to you, Mr. President, to stop bringing cases against writers and journalists engaging in legitimate and political criticism. Detaining independent journalists and silencing critical voices has a too big prize, both for the persons silenced and for the country as a whole.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2015 Tyrkia: Can Dündar og Erdem Gül

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Sarayı
06560, Beştepe
Ankara, Turkey

Oslo, 09.12.2015

 

Your Excellency,

Norwegian PEN is appalled at the news that yet another defamation case is being brought against high profiled Turkish journalists. We need to express our grave concern at the arrest and detention of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül on 26 November 2015 on espionage and national security charges, which we believe is a politically motivated move attempting to silence opposition voices.

We must ask you to stop bringing cases against journalists and writers engaging in legitimate political criticism, as Turkey has the obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party. As Can Dündar puts it himself: «We are not traitors, we are journalists».

Norwegian PEN share PEN International’s belief that Dündar’s article constitute legitimate political criticism, and we call for the immediate and unconditional release of both journalists. Can Dündar and any other Cumhuriyet staff members should be given the chance to continue what is simply their duties as journalists.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Norsk PEN fordømmer arrestasjonen av Can Dündar og Erdem Gül

Erdem Gül og Can Dündar
Erdem Gül og Can Dündar

I går kom nyheten fra Tyrkia om at sjefsredaktør og æresmedlem i Norsk PEN Can Dündar og journalist Erdem Gül i den tyrkiske dagsavisen Cumhuriyet er blitt arrestert, anklaget for spionasje, forræderi og å være medlemmer av en terrororganisasjon. Anklagene kan føre til fengsel på livstid. Norsk PEN fordømmer arrestasjonene av de to journalistene på det sterkeste.

Årsaken til arrestasjonen er at Cumhuriyet har offentliggjort bilder av lastebilkaravaner fylt av våpen som kjører over grensen fra Tyrkia til Syria, angivelig på vei til ekstremistiske opprørsgrupper som kjemper mot det syriske regimet og al-Assad. Tyrkiske myndigheter på sin side har hevdet av bilene inneholdt medisinsk nødhjelp som skulle til turkmenere i Syria. Etter avsløringene gikk Tyrkias president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personlig til søksmål mot Can Dündar og anmodet om at han skulle dømmes til livsvarig fengsel. Da Dündar og Gül stilte til rettsmøte i går, ble de altså begge arrestert og står nå i fare for å bli dømt til fengsel resten av livet. «Vi er ikke spioner, vi er ikke forrædere, vi er ikke helter; vi er journalister», skal Dündar ha uttalt utenfor rettslokalet.

Saken er nok et alvorlig eksempel på at Tyrkia under president Erdoğan er blitt et aggressivt og undertrykkende regime der det ikke lenger finnes ytringsfrihet og en fri presse. Norsk PEN mener at norske myndigheter, som en alliert med NATO-landet Tyrkia, nå må bryte tausheten og protestere overfor president Erdoğan mot kneblingen av journalister og den tragiske utviklingen i landet. Norsk PEN krever at Can Dündar, Erdem Gül og andre uavhengige journalister og skribenter i Tyrkia løslates umiddelbart, at alle anklager mot dem bortfaller og at tyrkiske myndigheter tillater full ytringsfrihet for landets innbyggere.