Ahmet Altan: ‘No one has the power to keep me in prison,’ writes the imprisoned Turkish author on the eve of his trial

18 September 2017

On the eve of Ahmet Altan’s trial, the SoA and English PEN simultaneously published a specially commissioned article by Altan, translated by Yasemin Çongar, while scores of authors including Joanne Harris, Neil Gaiman, Philippe Sands QC and A L Kennedy have sent words of support.

Facing the prospect of a life sentence, Altan writes in The Writer’s Paradox:

I am writing these words from a prison cell … But wait. Before you start playing the drums of mercy for me listen to what I will tell you … They may have the power to imprison me but no one has the power to keep me in prison. I am a writer. I am neither where I am nor where I am not.

Read The Writer’s Paradox in full

Arrest and charges

An acclaimed Turkish novelist, Altan is among the many writers and journalists to have been imprisoned in Turkey in the wake of the attempted coup that took place in July 2016. Ahmet was detained alongside his brother, the renowned economist and journalist Mehmet Altan, in a dawn raid in September 2016. Charges leaked to the press included ‘giving subliminal messages in favour of a coup on television’ the night before the failed insurgency.

On learning of the supposed charges, Ahmet commented:

Why are we confronted with this legal monstrosity? I surmise two reasons. One motive is to sow fear by showing that ‘we can silence any sort of criticism with all manner of absurdities.’ The second reason is to turn the July 15 coup investigation into some sort of nonsense; some sort of joke and thus divert it from its course. I do not know why they are so fearful of investigating the coup or why they are trying so hard to divert the investigation from its course. But this I know: distorting the law to serve these two purposes is itself a serious crime.

Ahmet and his brother were both charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘attempting to overthrow the government’.

More than six months later, in April 2017, it was reported that the prosecutor had demanded three aggravated life sentences for the brothers.

While Ahmet Altan is no stranger to the courts – he has been prosecuted many times over his career and remains on trial for ‘leaking state secrets’ – the conditions of his detention on this occasion are a cause of particular concern. Ahmet and his brother are reported to have very limited access to their lawyers and families, and no access to prison facilities such as the library and sports hall. Meanwhile they are banned from sending or receiving any letters or other written communications.

With English PEN, we believe the charges against Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet to be politically motivated and in violation of their right to freedom of expression, and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

Messages of support

Members of the SoA and PEN have been sending messages of support in advance of Ahmet’s trial. Here is a selection.

Neil Gaiman:

I hope that everyone who can read, whatever their politics, reads Ahmet Altan's response to his imprisonment. Repressive regimes hope that if they lock up writers they are also locking up ideas. This will always fail. I hope that Ahmet and Mehmet get a fair trial (although that they are even going to trial is in itself a caricature of the law). I hope that all despots and dictators learn, sooner rather than later, that, as Ahmet tells us, writers are impossible to effectively imprison.

Joanne Harris:

Writers exist to question, to challenge, sometimes even to ridicule - the status quo. For a government to imprison a writer for doing this is to attack, not only freedom of speech, but freedom of the imagination. It is a backward, oppressive and ultimately futile gesture that can only lead to greater and more damaging social unrest. I condemn it entirely, and hope that Ahmet Altan is freed as soon as possible.

Philippe Sands QC, author of East West Street:

Ahmet Altan, you are in prison and you are everywhere, and you are with us here today in Lviv, as we members of PEN gather to walk the line that connects then, today and tomorrow, acutely conscious of the vital need to assert our commitment to freedom of expression, the rule of law and all human rights associated with the protection of the word, whether written, spoken or imagined.

A L Kennedy:

To the leaders of Turkey, I urge both courage and compassion. To imprison free voices is to express fear and embrace ignorance. To Ahmet Altan I give thanks for his defence of my profession, his voice in the world, for his courage and for his creation of beauty even within a prison cell.

Anne Doughty:

Sometimes it seems that one person can do nothing against the overwhelming power of opposition from seemingly more powerful groups ... but one person, like you, Ahmet, multiplied across the writers of the world, can be the lever, the tipping point, without which a major movement cannot occur. Be of good cheer. You are held in our thoughts. I wish you well.

Tom Bryan:

Turkey has made a long journey to become a modern secular state. It has borrowed from the West but has rightly maintained its own history and traditions. By jailing its critics, it is dishonouring its own proud history. Please do not jail this man. Any decent state should be able to tolerate and even encourage criticism. I urge the Turkish authorities to respect freedom of speech. It will be more respected in the world for that. Set them/him free and in doing so, you are freeing Turkey itself.

You can read more messages of support in the comment thread below. Please add your voice to theirs: leave a comment below or send a tweet using the hashtags #AhmetAltan and #FreeTurkeyMedia.

To support the release of Ahmet Altan visit his Speak Out campaign page on the English PEN website - www.englishpen.org/press/speak-out-ahmet-altan

COMMENTS

Ottilie Mulzet (03/10/2017 10:13)
" To the leaders of Turkey:
Please release Mr Ahmet Altan and all your imprisoned writers. A country that does not stand up for freedom of speech is a country without honour."
Jane Wenham-Jones (27/09/2017 01:38)
" I am thinking of you Ahmet Altan. I hope and pray compassion and good sense will prevail and you will be freed soon."
Rachel Edwards (24/09/2017 08:45)
" Ahmet Altan - you are indeed travelling the world and reaching your fellow writers with the truth and power of your words. Trust that you have friends who stand with you and will remain with you until after you are freed."
John Hands (23/09/2017 06:33)
" Your courage is inspirational, Ahmet. May your body join your mind in freedom."
Janet Laurence (21/09/2017 11:48)
" Your imprisonment is a stain on Turkey's reputation with the outside world. You should be released immediately,
Janet Laurence"
Andrew Blackman (20/09/2017 02:05)
" Thank you for your beautiful evocation of the writer's paradox, Ahmet. I love the idea of you travelling the whole world in your prison cell, passing through walls with ease. I hope that the unjust charges against you are dropped, and your body can soon join your mind in freedom."
Nick Warburton (20/09/2017 11:12)
" I want to add my voice to others in support of Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan. I am free to add my voice. These men, too, should be free to speak."
Frances Dimond (19/09/2017 08:32)
" To Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, with kind thoughts and prayers for release from your most unjust imprisonment."
holly aylett (19/09/2017 06:31)
" Hello Ahmet and Mehmet Altan. I write from London in the hope that knowing there are those so far away from your prison and Turkey's predicament still care and are watchful of those who would exploit the moment to impose tyranny, who would silence contradiction and challenge in fear of civic debate and freedom to think. Thank you from all of us world citizens for your courage and I hope you will soon be freed."
holly aylett (19/09/2017 06:30)
" Hello Ahmet and Mehmet Altan. I write from London in the hope that knowing there are those so far away from your prison and Turkey's predicament still care and are watchful of those who would exploit the moment to impose tyranny, who would silence contradiction and challenge in fear of civic debate and freedom to think. Thank you from all of us world citizens for your courage and I hope you will soon be freed."
holly aylett (19/09/2017 06:30)
" Hello Ahmet and Mehmet Altan. I write from London in the hope that knowing there are those so far away from your prison and Turkey's predicament still care and are watchful of those who would exploit the moment to impose tyranny, who would silence contradiction and challenge in fear of civic debate and freedom to think. Thank you from all of us world citizens for your courage and I hope you will soon be freed."
Emma Jolly (19/09/2017 01:31)
" Please free Ahmet Alten."
Sarah Grazebrook (18/09/2017 06:58)
" 'If we have confidence in our own beliefs, we should not fear freedom of thought.'
Recep Erdogan"
Fay Sampson (18/09/2017 06:02)
" I admire greatly the integrity of your stance. You speak for all writers. I pray that you will find freedom, and be upheld in your detention."
Sue Wilkes (18/09/2017 02:13)
" Each attempt to silence a writer's voice diminishes all humanity."
Janan Broadbent (17/09/2017 09:41)
" Altan bey: Arkanizdayim. Baltimore'dan size seviler. En kisa zamanda serbest birakilmaniz dilegiyle..."
Ruth Brandon (17/09/2017 07:46)
" No civilised country imprisons writers. Until Ahmet Altan, and all the other writers imprisoned by this regime, are freed, Turkey will remain a savage and uncivilised place."
Ruth Brandon (17/09/2017 07:46)
" No civilised country imprisons writers. Until Ahmet Altan, and all the other writers imprisoned by this regime, are freed, Turkey will remain a savage and uncivilised place."
Ruth Brandon (17/09/2017 07:45)
" No civilised country imprisons writers. Until Ahmet Altan, and all the other writers imprisoned by this regime, are freed, Turkey will remain a savage and uncivilised place."
Ruth Brandon (17/09/2017 07:43)
" No civilised country imprisons writers. Until Ahmet Altan and all other writers unjustly imprisoned by this regime354599 are released, Turkey will remain a savage and uncivilised place."
Paul Knott (17/09/2017 07:22)
" Dear Mr Altan,
I am inspired by your courage and spirit. May your mind continue to roam free and your release from physical imprisonment come soon."
Sarah Grazebrook (17/09/2017 06:42)
" 'If we have confidence in our own beliefs, we should not fear freedom of thought.'
Recep Erdogan"
Sarah Grazebrook (17/09/2017 06:26)
" 'If we have confidence in our own beliefs, we should not fear freedom of thought.'
Recep Erdogan"
Walford Gillison (17/09/2017 06:16)
" Society of Authors U.K.

As a past prisoner of war 1942- 5 under the Japanese I understand the reasons for your captors depriving your physical freedom. Take heart they are obviously afraid of and unable to imprison your mind. I believe our Writers’ Society will be following your progress until the day you are released.

Walford Gillison. Soc. of Authors U.K."
Valeria Vescina (17/09/2017 05:21)
" Writers should not be incarcerated for expressing opinions and ideas. Ahmet Altan is an artist and a man of peace. Please free him."
Sal & Fraser Harrison (17/09/2017 03:53)
" Please release this unjustly detained writer."
Toby Frost (17/09/2017 03:46)
" I hope Mr Altan is released shortly, and that the Turkish authorities realise the foolishness of the path they have chosen. The imprisonment and oppression of journalists and writers only weakens and impoverishes a country instead of strengthening it."
Stanley Salmons (17/09/2017 03:14)
" Crushing any dissent or difference of opinion is not a sign of an enlightened administration. Turkey: please rejoin the community of democratic countries and release this man of conscience."
Berenice Dunbar (17/09/2017 03:12)
" It is disgraceful that in the 21st century when people is crying for writing and speech freedom , there are countries which still live as if the time has not passed, They live on the prehistory. There has been no culture developing for them."
Susan Pares (17/09/2017 01:47)
" A message of support for Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet. Their imprisonment and prosecution bring no credit to the Turkish leadership. Better for the health of the country to release them and listen to what they have to say."
Thomas Bloor (17/09/2017 10:44)
" A message of support for Ahmet Altan, whose arrest and imprisonment is a violation of the rights of free expression everywhere. He should be released at once."
James Green (17/09/2017 10:22)
" As your mind cannot be imprisoned neither can bars or walls exclude friendship.
Ahmet Altan, my friend."
Anthony Phillips (17/09/2017 06:53)
" So many true things have already been written on the injustice done to Ahmet Altan and what should be the overarching obligation of authority not to abuse its power over its citizens, what can another voice add except to remember that even a single voice is not in the end wholly impotent? I have spent a good many years translating and commenting on the literary legacy of composers who were subjected to ignorant and bullying victimisation by the Stalinist regime of Soviet Russia. Yet now, little more than half a century later, who remembers the pathetic apparatchiks who dutifully carried out the persecution demanded by their tyrannically crazed dictator, to set against the millions of people who continue to love and value the works of Prokofiev and Shostakovich? Shostakovich was fond of quoting the Russian proverb which says that 'what the pen has written, the axe can not cut out'. This is as true in Turkey today as it was in Stalin's Russia."
Christine Poulson (16/09/2017 07:06)
" Freedom of speech is precious and democracies need those who speak truth to power. You are in my thoughts and prayers."
Brian McAvera (16/09/2017 06:41)
" Freedom of speech is a central, if not the central, aspect of a democracy. Turkey wishes to become part of the European Union, which is a democratic institution. It cannot become a member of this union unless it is willing to abide by its laws and its standards. Imprisoning writers simply because you disagree with them is the act of a dictator. It also demonstrates that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword because it indicates that the Turkish state is afraid of writers who disagree with them. Writers are not going to vanish just because the Turkish government have decided to imprison one of them because writers are a part of a world-wide network. And the world does listen. And history tells us that the writer will out...
Brian McAvera"
Edip (16/09/2017 05:07)
" " I should like to add my voice and support for Ahmet Altan and to ask the Turkish authorities to uphold the values of freedom of speech and expression. Such a gesture would speak volumes about your country -- as would your refusal.""
Meriel Brooke (16/09/2017 05:05)
" It is sad indeed that a leaders of a wonderful country like Turkey, should so demean it's government by attempting to smother the voice of its people. Attempts to silence the voice of Ahmet Altan will only succeed in allowing it to be heard far and wide."
Marjorie Rosenberg (16/09/2017 04:21)
" Dear Ahmet Altan,
Imprisonment of writers and critics is nothing new but unfortunately this is still going on in many corners of the world. We authors owe it to the current and to future generations to stand together in solidarity. Those who express different political views are vital to society and I can only hope that you and your brother will be released soon. Turkey can only benefit from your contributions."
Anna Halager (16/09/2017 02:14)
" Dear Ahmet Altan, Praying that you will be released from prison. We are very many who are holding you in our thoughts. You are not left alone."
Bronwen Griffiths (16/09/2017 01:38)
" A country should be able to withstand criticism, otherwise no one is free. A writer should not be imprisoned for his or her views. Ahmet is not advocating violence. He should be freed with immediate effect."
Belinda Whitworth (16/09/2017 01:33)
" Please let this man go free. Freedom of expression is vital for the health and happiness of us all."
Trevor Hoyle (16/09/2017 01:22)
" I should like to add my voice and support for Ahmet Altan and to ask the Turkish authorities to uphold the values of freedom of speech and expression. Such a gesture would speak volumes about your country -- as would your refusal."
Deapina Katsirea (16/09/2017 01:21)
" No one has the right to silence a brave voice, or any voice. Imprisonment cannot curb the will of freedom. The people who try to do that do not deserve to be called people.
We salute, admire you, pray for your freedom, you are one of us.
Shame to those in Turkey that reduce themselves to Medieval soldiers."
Chris Clement-Green (16/09/2017 11:31)
" When men of power imprison another others because they don't like what they say - it ends up saying far more about the president than the prisoner. It makes the former seem weak in the eyes of the world while the latter's voice grows and becomes global."
Miranda Miller (16/09/2017 10:51)
" By imprisoning this writer you gain bad publicity for your government and draw the attention of the world to him and his work. You become a villain and he becomes a hero. Is this what you want to achieve?"
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson (16/09/2017 09:47)
" An earlier comment said - 'When a country tries to silence its writers, their voices start to be heard all over the world. It is the country which appears smaller.' How true - may President Erdogan take note."
Brenda squires (16/09/2017 09:44)
" To imprison those who speak put against you is a sign of weakness. Show the world that Turkey has a robust and democratic culture by grating freedom of expression. Do not punish Ahmet Alten for caring so much about his country that he is willing to speak out and risk public censure."
Renda (16/09/2017 09:40)
" To imprison those who oppose you is a sign of weakness and insecurity. By letting Ahmet Alten speak out you will be improving your standing as a culture which is robust and welcomes debate"
Amanda Taylor (16/09/2017 09:33)
" All governments should be open to constructive criticism—it is called democracy. Anything else is dictatorship."
Stuart Nimmo (16/09/2017 08:08)
" Freedom of thought is free, it can't be imprisoned. To imprison its expression is a sign of great fear and of weakness. The world is not impressed by repression and so magnificent Turkey is seriously diminished by it.
Mr Altan you have a considerable number of friends and coauthors who care about you and your shameful incarceration a lot. You are far from alone."
Fatima Martin (16/09/2017 07:28)
" As a Muslim writer I ask the Turkish government to follow the example of our prophet, peace be upon him, who gave the people the freedom to criticise him, to ridicule him, to object to him and oppose him. Truth will ultimately win. It is a sign of declining power when opponents have to be silenced by force."
Kate Thompson (16/09/2017 12:53)
" Attempts to silence discussion and repress creative expression are signs of weakness, not strength. Save your government the embarrassment of this show trial and release Ahmet Altan"
Onder Secen (15/09/2017 10:33)
" Ahmet Bey,

Sizleri bu bu surecden once yeteri kadar nasil taniyamamisim diye kendime kiziyorum. Son kitabinizida zevkle okuyorum. Insh'Allah Allah size hayirli kapilar acar, bir an once ozgurlugunuze kavusur ve yazilarinizla bizleri bulusturursunuz.

Onder"
Professor Prabhu Guptara (15/09/2017 09:20)
" Every President of a country wants to be well-regarded both in his own country and in other countries.

The world's attention is now being brought to the fact that President Erdogan is bringing shame on himself and his country.

By having writers, thinkers and artists arrested.

Are such people are powerful enough to represent any threat to President Erdogan?

Clearly not.

If so, is it worth keeping them under arrest if the result is a bad image and reputation?"
Hephzibah Yohannan (15/09/2017 09:04)
" Governments would receive respect if they were wise enough to listen to and respect their creative people. I hope that Ahmet Altan is freed as soon as possible."
Beth Webb (15/09/2017 08:26)
" While visiting Istanbul, I learned that "Artists (and writers) are the doctors of society."
I thought then, "How wise."
Honouring that tradition of Turkish wisdom, please, let this man speak freely."
Patricia Irvine (15/09/2017 08:14)
" PESPECTIVES
Life is about perspectives and many different points of view
There’s much each view can teach us, to aid the growing that we’ll do
I have a blueprint in my heart, just as you hold one in yours
Differences do not mean that, we should close our minds - like doors

If I cross the border, to share your particular view
Then I will understand things of importance to you
And when I return to my own mark and take up my place again
I’ll have a better understanding of your pleasure and your pain

Should you do me that same honour, I would welcome you
How much easier then, to understand, each other’s point of view?
If I respect your opinion and the position of your stance
You should return the kindness and give mine a second glance

We can then continue on our separate paths, yet treasure both yours and mine
With shared tolerance and understanding we could simply shine
Problems arise, when tolerance is low
And one dictates to another - that their’s - is the only way to go...

A rose drawn from many angles is different in each frame
Yet the rose that is the subject, surely remains the same?
Individual perceptions are a matter of course
The ego causes grave problems, when it insists on using force...

The lesson we must learn is there are many paths leading to the Light
And we have a duty to help each other - Not argue, bicker and fight!
---------------------------------------------

By imprisioning a writer - a government displays it's own weakness and fear.
It loses integrity and the trust and faith of its fellow countrymen and women.
Faith, trust and integrity, once lost - can never be regained.

A bullying regime like Turkey's, simply demonstrates to the entire world that it is fearful of those who have the courage to voice their different perceptions on life.
It will take real leadership to put it right
Has the government the courage to face up to the views of an individual writer and his brother? Two men...

Is it brave enough to face the situation and put it right - while it still can?
Or will they allow their young to think that bullying is to be admired?

Pray for the Turkish young - if this is all that those who are responsible for their morals are capable of demonstrating...
How weak. How sad.
Hardly a glorious leadership for the Turkish people..."
Mary von Heide (15/09/2017 08:04)
" Freedom of thought is a human right. Peaceful freedom is expression is also a right. This man should not be imprisoned."
geoff bond (15/09/2017 07:34)
" Freedom of expression is vital for living as a nature meant a healthy human to flourish. Full support to Altan. We Brits only imprison people for saying mean things about Muslims."
Frances Kay (15/09/2017 07:32)
" Dear Ahmet, as a fellow writer, I admire your principled opposition to injustice. You are right to say that a writer cannot be imprisoned, even if he is locked in a cell. We have the power of imagination to lift and free us from even the worst conditions. So many of us are thinking about you and hoping you will soon be free. Turkey's treatment of a fine writer is being closely watched, and judgment will be called by the whole of the free world. Take courage."
Carole Anne Carr (15/09/2017 07:32)
" I am so sad to hear what has happened to you and pray for your release."
David Mackenzie (15/09/2017 06:58)
" Free Ahmet Altan. By putting writers in jail you are imprisoning Turkey. Other countries will not set Turkey free."
Barbara Cooper (15/09/2017 06:58)
" There was a time not all that long ago when enlightened government brought Turkey into the free, multicultural, tolerant European world. With the treatment of Ahmet Altan, among other acts of injustice, it has turned its clock back to the worst years of the Middle Ages"
Frances Mechan-Schmidt (15/09/2017 06:52)
" My heart goes out to Ahmet Altan and his brother in their desperate plight. It reminds me of a similar case here in Germany, where I am based: Deniz Yücel, German journalist of Turkish origin, who has been imprisoned in Turkey without trial since the beginning of this year. The ECHR intervened on his behalf, demanding a statement from the Turkish government and setting a deadline of October 23rd. We can only hope that wide support for Ahmet Altan and his brother, whose trial is due to start soon, will keep their names in the headlines and boost their chances of a reasonably fair trial, as far as that is possible nowadays in Turkey."
Beverley Naidoo (15/09/2017 06:36)
" To Turkey's leaders: When you imprison your writers, you imprison your soul. You should free them. To Ahmet Altan, may your mind keep flying high, far beyond your prison bars. Your courage and imagination are a beacon."
Beryl Beare (15/09/2017 06:35)
" Turkey, you are a great nation but you belittle yourself by imprisoning this writer. Please do yourself justice and free him, free thought is no crime it is the promise and hope of the future,"
Gerry Abbott (15/09/2017 06:18)
" This author has committed no crime against his country and should therefore be released immediately."
chris ashbrook (15/09/2017 06:08)
" TO THE NEW LEADERS OF TURKEY: What a terrible thing you are doing to your country. Are you really so foolish as to imprison the very people you most need? You are crippling your future by imprisoning writers such a Ahmet Altan. You were so close to being part of the civilised world, yet you are burning all your bridges. Have you no sense of honour? Is personal power worth isolated your people from the rest of the world? Because that is what you have done. What a tragedy."
chris ashbrook (15/09/2017 06:06)
" TO THE NEW LEADERS OF TURKEY: What a terrible thing you are doing to your country. Are you really so foolish as to imprison the very people you most need? You are crippling your future by imprisoning writers such a Ahmet Altan. You were so close to being part of the civilised world, yet you are burning all your bridges. Have you no sense of honour? Is personal power worth isolated your people from the rest of the world? Because that is what you have done. What a terrible tragedy."
Griff Fellows (15/09/2017 05:57)
" Stifling of opinions and free speech brings dishonour to a nation. Please think again."
Terry Allen (15/09/2017 05:23)
" Free Ahmet Altman and Mehmet Altan! Shame and regret are on the shoulders of Erdogan."
Trevor Homer (15/09/2017 05:05)
" Mr Erdogan, you and your so-called government, dishonour yourselves and your country by putting in prison a writer merely because you disagree with that writer's words.
Mr Erdogan, you will never step into our civilised world with this at your hands.
Ahmet Altan, draw strength from your supporters around the world.
I have never read a word you have written, but I will now.
And your voice will be heard."
Professor Stuart George Hall (15/09/2017 04:56)
" Turkey is a great nation. To remain great it must open mind and heart to listen to new ideas from those who love it, even if they are critical. Treat nations need greathearted leaders."
Peter Inson (15/09/2017 04:49)
" What is it that frightens the Turkish government so much that it cannot face the truth? If it has nothing to fear, why imprison Ahmet Altan?

Wasn't the Home Secretary's grandfather a brave, outspoken Turkish journalist? Perhaps Boris Johnson could make waves."
Tom Greeves (15/09/2017 04:43)
" Artists and writers open eyes to new ways of seeing, thinking, and behaving. All cultures benefit from a rich diversity of voices. Please release Ahmet Altan, as a prison cell serves no useful purpose for a man of words and wisdom."
Arthur Hughes (15/09/2017 04:41)
" I love Turkey but I loathe a regime that imprisons writers for speaking their mind. I am thinking of you and trust you will be free soon."
Anne Doughty (15/09/2017 04:12)
" Ireland is a beautiful country but one which has had as many dark phases in its history as Turkey, which I have visited twice. Sometimes it seems that one person can do nothing against the overwhelming power of opposition from seemingly more powerful groups . . . .but one person, like you, Ahmet, multiplied across the writers of the world, can be the lever, the tipping point, without which a major movement cannot occur.
Be of good cheer. You are held in our thoughts. I wish you well."
Hilary Green (15/09/2017 03:58)
" No country can consider itself civilized when it tries to imprison the imagination of its citizens. Free Ahmed Altan"
Emma Collison (15/09/2017 03:50)
" Please release Ahmet Altan and respect the right to freedom of expression."
Umi Sinha (15/09/2017 03:43)
" “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War 1942-49"
John Hall (15/09/2017 03:39)
" Ahmet Altan - you are in my thoughts and prayers, so to the wonderful people of Turkey. The country is slipping into the shadowlands as human rights and the threat of radicalism meet a conservative government trying to undo Ataturk's achievements and suppress free thought and expression."
Martin Plaut (15/09/2017 03:38)
" Censorship is a violation of the basic freedoms that Turkey agreed to when it joined the United Nations. Please do not do this!"
Penny Perrick (15/09/2017 03:30)
" When a country tries to silence its writers, their voices start to be heard all over the world. It is the country which appears smaller."
Reginald Massey (15/09/2017 03:24)
" Dear Brothers,
Writers the world over are with you. Remember you are not alone."
Dominic Cooper (15/09/2017 03:21)
" The charges brought against these two men are both unfounded and unjust and as such are a dark blemish on the Turkish state. The world will be watching."
Judith Brulo (15/09/2017 03:12)
" You are not alone. We are with you. Your spirit is free and so should your body be."
Kenneth Steven (15/09/2017 03:04)
" I spent adolescent years penning letters to the Turkish authorities on behalf of Turkish prisoners of conscience: I had hoped I would never have to do so again. Turkey stands at a crossroads: I hope and pray this road to disctatorship may not be chosen."
Jenny Martin (15/09/2017 03:01)
" They have cruelly imprisoned your body but not your spirit. In doing this they have freed your words to speak to the world in eloquent witness to truth, justice and humanity. My thoughts are with you."
Michael Heath (15/09/2017 02:54)
" The legitimacy of any governing regime is only as valid as its tolerance of ALL opinion, whether in favour or in criticism. The world is watching Turkey and the way in which it handles Ahmet Altan - and the world's opinion of Turkey and the legitimacy of its government will be shouted loud and clear if this writer is unjustly treated. Freedom of speech and thought is the first essential of any civilised society. Turkey will be held in contempt around the world if it does not accord its citizens these basic rights."
Barry Phelps (15/09/2017 02:54)
" A shameful comment on Erdogan's Turkey."
Alan Sommerstein (15/09/2017 02:46)
" The trial of Ahmet Altan on blatantly trumped-up charges is a disgrace to Turkey. And he is one of thousands who have been unjustly imprisoned or deprived of their jobs."
Paul Blezard (15/09/2017 02:40)
" To the political leaders of Turkey.

A nation's value is measured not only by GDP or the wealth of it's people, but by its creative output and how it treats its artists, writers, thinkers and yes, critics.

The imprisnment of Ahmet and his brother reduces Turkey in eyes of the international community. Release hin. Release him now if you value your nation's reputation."
Thereza Macnamara (15/09/2017 02:05)
" A word should always be heard, especially in this cradle of civilisation"
Doreen McBride (15/09/2017 01:59)
" Civilised society allows, and encourages, freedom of thought. It's sad to see what was once a great civilisation stoop so low as to imprison an intellectual."
Ruth Finnegan (15/09/2017 01:55)
" Take heart brave fellow author. A butterfly's life is short. But it is long enough. So too is the soul's.

We are with you, dear breath of our breath who speaks and sings for us all"
Maggie Ling (15/09/2017 01:54)
" To repress a strong brave humane intelligence in this brutal way shows weakness, not strength.
Be brave, leaders of Turkey, release this man."
William Paterson (15/09/2017 01:54)
" Suppression of opinion stems from and leads to dictatorship - and we all know what that leads to: Oppression, with all its long term consequences."
Tom Bryan (15/09/2017 01:54)
" Turkey has made a long journey to become a modern secular state. It has borrowed from the West but has rightly maintained its own history and traditions. By jailing its critics, it is dishonouring its own proud history. Please do not jail this man. Any decent state should be able to tolerate and even encourage criticism. I urge the Turkish authorities to respect freedom of speech. It will be more respected in the world for that. Set them/him free and in doing so, you are freeing Turkey itself."
Allison Symes (15/09/2017 01:46)
" Nobody should be afraid of legitimate criticism. Please do not jail this man."
Allison Symes (15/09/2017 01:45)
" Nobody should be afraid of legitimate criticism. Please do not jail this man."
Allison Symes (15/09/2017 01:44)
" Nobody should be afraid of legitimate criticism. Please do not jail this man."
Dick Bateman (15/09/2017 01:40)
" I hope for a reconciliation between this brave writer and the government of this wonderful country."
Robin Hanbury-Tenison (15/09/2017 01:39)
" No one should be imprisoned because of expressing legitimate opinions. It is the sign of a mature state to be able to accept criticism and enter into debate. Where is the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk today?"
Matt Avery (15/09/2017 01:31)
" The world is watching, and Turkey will be judged on how it treats an honourable man whose only 'crime' is the freedom of expression most of us take for granted."
Mary Murphy (15/09/2017 01:25)
" It is a shameful act for a country to imprison its writers. This man is not a threat. We urge you to free him."
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (15/09/2017 01:16)
" Ahmet Altan is an honourable man with a long record of writing unwelcome truths. Naturally he is unpopular but the state disgraces itself by persecuting him."
Nina Caplan (15/09/2017 01:14)
" It is not a sign of power but of weakness, to try to silence those who disagree with you. A body may be imprisoned but never a voice, and if Turkey wants the world's respect, it should leave its writers free to say what they will, and take pride in the their talent and the honour they bring their country, regardless of whether their words please or offend."
Margaret McAllister (15/09/2017 01:12)
" To Turkey's leaders - you have nothing to gain by imprisoning this man, and will do yourselves credit by freeing him. To Ahmet - well done. May your voice be heard and your words read."
Katrina Anne Jack (15/09/2017 01:04)
" Trying to suppress freedom of speech never works. Eventually the truth will out. Good luck, Ahmet Altan"
Sue O'Connell (15/09/2017 01:00)
" Is the Turkish Government so afraid of ideas that it has to imprison its writers? Shame on it."
AL Kennedy (15/09/2017 01:00)
" To the leaders of Turkey, I urge both courage and compassion. To imprison free voices is to express fear and embrace ignorance. To Ahmet Altan I give thanks for his defence of my profession, his voice in the world, for his courage and for his creation of beauty even within a prison cell.

AL Kennedy"
John Davidson (15/09/2017 12:58)
" Always so sad when the good are imprisoned for no other reason than their goodness. The spirit within is naturally free. Out of fear, ignorance attacks freedom. To permit freedom to others is to demonstrate one's humanity and great-heartedness. To imprison others for what they say or believe demonstrates the reverse."
Valerie Langfield (15/09/2017 12:55)
" As a musician, what I write is in a musical context, and I write what needs to be written. As a composer, I compose what needs to be composed. As a writer, you do this too - and this is part of being human, and civilised. It is not a crime! It is something you and Turkey should be proud of."
Lyn Farrell (15/09/2017 12:52)
" Release him immediately. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, to creative life, and to peaceful protest.
Turkey's Government looks small and afraid when it imprisons people for writing."
Ann Jungmann (15/09/2017 12:47)
" Please do not imprison this good man. A country without writers free to express their opinions, is a poor place indeed. It does Turkey no honour to imprison its thinking citizens."
Ann Jungmann (15/09/2017 12:47)
" Please do not imprison this good man. A country without writers free to express their opinions, is a poor place indeed. It does Turkey no honour to imprison its thinking citizens."
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