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      Freedom of Thought Price attributed to Info-Turk editors

Freedom of Thought Price attributed to Info-Turk editors   15/03/2006

The Ayse Zarakolu Freedom of Thought Price attributed to Info-Turk editors

The Istanbul Section of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) has decided to attribute the Ayse Zarakolu Price for Freedom of Thought (2006) to Info-Turk editors Dogan Özgüden and Inci Tugsavul along with three other human rights defenders, Zülküf Kisanak, Seferi Yilmaz and Emin Karaca. The price award ceremony will take place in Istanbul on March 8, 2006, on the occasion of the International Women Day.

Since Özgüden and Tugsavul cannot enter their country because of legal proceedings, publisher and human rights defender Ragip Zarakolu came to Brussels on February 24, 2006, and announced the IHD's decision at the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) General Meeting held at the International Press Center. Later on, he presented Özgüden and Tugsavul the price.

The press release of the Istanbul Section of the Human Rights Association of Turkey

Ayse Nur Zarakolu, publisher and co-founder of our association, was a determined defender of human rights. She always had a clear and net standing against militarism and taboos defined as "red points" by the militarist system. Because of this standing, she was tried, imprisoned and subjected to various menaces. So, she became one of the vanguards of the fight for the freedom of thought and expression.

Even at the time when the simple word "Kurd" was banned, she did not hesitate to publish Sociologist Ismail Besikci's book entitled "Kurdistan, an Inter-States Colony." She published the works revealing the suffer and problems of the Non-Moslim minorities. She also started debate on the question of "Armenian Genocide" which still remains as a taboo in Turkey.

Ayse chose what is difficult, not the easy one. Since her death, as the Istanbul Section of the Human Rights Association, we attribute The Price of Freedom of Thought and Expression in the name of Ayse Nur Zarakolu.

This year we elected five persons who choose what is difficult and fight for years against militarism.

Today, when one speaks of "freedom of thought", Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code comes to mind. Adopted in a racist point of view, this article privileges as a crime only the insult to the Turkish identity while they are many people belonging to different ethnic identities. To be tried under this article, it is enough to speak of "red points."

Dogan Özgüden and Inci Özgüden-Tugsavul are two journalists who fight for many years against military coups and militarist policies. With their review Ant, they always criticized the militarist tendencies in the name of the left-wing movement of Turkey. With the Info-Turk Agency that they founded in exile, they put in question many subjects considered taboos in Turkey. They took a clear position against anti-semitism and opened debate of the question of Armenian Genocide. Still there is always an arrest warrant against Dogan Özgüden under Article 301 for having criticized putschist generals.

Zülküf Kisanak was sentenced according to the same article because of his book "Lost Villages - How the Heritage of Thousands Years was Destroyed?"

Seferi Yilmaz, after the sabotage of the counter-guerrila forces against a bookshop in Semdinli, played the principal role in the identification of these forces. So, he encouraged all those who fight for a pacific solution to the Kurdish Question.

As for Emin Karaca, he was arrested at the 1971 military coup. After his release in 1974, he continued his journalist work. He was condemned again because of an article that he translated on the Gladio and the Susurluk Scandal. He keeps a net position on the subject of Armenian taboo. Recently, he was sentenced under Article 301 for having criticized putschist generals.

As the defenders of human rights, we consider vital the fight against militarism and the taboos that it invented. The fights in this field should never be forgotten.

We are sure that if Ayse had heard the names elected for the price in her name, she would stand up and applaud them by all heart.

The Istanbul Section of the Human Rights Association of Turkey

Dogan Özgüden and Inci Tugsavul

Dogan Özgüden, 70, began journalism career in 1952 in Izmir. After having worked at the newspapers Ege Günesi, Sabah Postasi, Milliyet and Öncü in Izmir, Gece Postasi and Sosyal Adalet in Istanbul, he directed as chief editor and main editorial writer of the most important left-wing daily Aksam (1964-66).

Inci Tugsavul-Özgüden, 65, began journalism career in 1961 in Ankara at the daily Hür Vatan and the weekly Kim, later worked at the dailies Hareket (1962-63) and Aksam (1963-66).

They founded and directed the socialist review Ant and the Ant Publishing House (1967-71). Both were accused more than 50 times of having committed "crime of opinion" in the articles that they wrote or published. Threatened by a total of more than 300-year imprisonment, they had to leave Turkey after the military coup of 1971.

In Europe they organized the Democratic Resistance of Turkey with other opponents in exile in order to mobilize European public opinion against the Junta's repressive regime.

Since 1974, they edit in Brussels the Info-Turk Agency which informs the world opinion of the situation of human rights in Turkey (http://www.info-turk.be) and lead the Sun Workshops (Ateliers du Soleil), a multicultural permanent education organization (http://www.ateliersdusoleil.be).

Along with more than 200 other opponents of the regime in exile, they were deprived of their Turkish nationality in 1982 because of their criticisms against the military junta. Although this decision was annulled after ten years, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has declined to give them a written guarantee that they would not be indicted or imprisoned for the accusations that the same ministry communicated earlier to the European Human Rights Commission.

On the contrary, more than 30 years after the military coup, Turkish Justice indicted Dogan Özgüden for insulting army chiefs because of his article criticizing putschist generals. The tribunal ordered his arrest at the checkpoint if he returns to Turkey in order to judge him.

One of the former leading members of the Journalists' Association of Turkey (TGC), the Journalists' Trade Union (TGS) and the Ethical Council of the Press (BSD) in Turkey, Dogan Özgüden is now a member of the Association of Professional Journalists of Belgium (AGJPB), the Brussels Center of Intercultural Actions (CBAI), the Human Rights League of Belgium (LDDH) and the Movement Against Racism and Xenophobia (MRAX).

He is author of many books and studies, mainly On Fascism (1965, Istanbul), On Capitalism (1966, Istanbul), File on Turkey (1972, France), Turkey, Fascism and Resistance (1973, The Netherlands; 2006, Belgium), Mass media and Turkish Migrants (1983), The Portrait of Turkish Migration (1984), Black Book on the Militarist "Democracy" in Turkey (1986), Extreme Right in Turkey (1988).

Former member of the Journalists' Association of Turkey (TGC) and the Journalists' Trade Union (TGS ), Inci Tugsavul-Özgüden is now member of the International Press Association (API) in Brussels. She is the author of the Introduction to the Classical Music (1965, Istanbul) and Turkish Women (1991, Brussels).


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