Den tyrkiske forfatteren Elif Shafak er tiltalt for å ha krenket «tyrkiskhet» fordi en person i hennes roman, «Bastarden fra Istanbul», snakker om folkemordet på armenerne mot slutten av første verdenskrig.

Shafak er tiltalt under samme paragraf som den kjente forfatteren Orhan Pamuk ble, paragraf 301, som trådte i kraft ifjor. Siden er 60 forfattere, journalister, oversettere og forleggere blitt tiltalt. Ingen er ennå dømt.

Det var advokater fra en høyreorientert forening som anmeldte Shafak.

«The situation in Turkey has changed since the introduction of Article 301 last year,» Sara Whyatt, director of the Writers in Prison Committee at International PEN, told the Guardian today. «One has seen mainstream writers such as Orhan Pamuk, Perihan Magden and Elif Shafak being prosecuted.

«It seems to me that these prosecutions are being driven by a rightwing element within the Turkish judiciary, which is concerned about the Turkish application to join the EU,» she added.

Whyatt did not expect Shafak’s case to be resolved quickly. «So far nobody has been convicted under Article 301,» she said, «but I think the trials are intended to harass and intimidate these writers and journalists. They often take many months and many hearings, often accompanied by violence inside and outside the courts. Elif Shafak is at the beginning of what could be a long and painful process.»

Organisasjoner som P.E.N. International er bekymret over utviklingen i Tyrkia. På den ene siden skjer det noe blant forfattere og kunstnere. De våger ta opp tabubelagte temaer.

På den andre siden er det et backlash blant folk som ikke ønsker at Tyrkia skal bli EU-medlem.

Writer and translator Maureen Freely, who attended the trial of Orhan Pamuk earlier this year, described a campaign of choreographed intimidation against writers and their supporters. «These prosecutions are all being targeted by bands of disciplined fascists. Although the police who are there have now undertaken to protect the defendants, they first and foremost protect the fascist agitators and give them an opportunity to harass and intimidate all those who have gone to support fellow writers or observe the trial, both inside and outside the court house.»

She compared the atmosphere in Istanbul to Germany in 1935. «People are getting a lot of intimidation,» she said. «This is very sinister and you have to ask, in a country which is ably governed, why this is being allowed to happen.»

‘Insulting Turkishness’ case reopens against bestselling author
Richard Lea
Friday July 7, 2006
Guardian Unlimited