Artsfreedom newsletter: Turkey – The Freemuse Files

15 December 2016

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Turkey – The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts

As President Tayyip Erdogan continues to tighten his grip on power and thousands of academics, activists, journalists, judges and teachers have been arrested or lost their jobs, we are once again reminded of how brutal power politics has dominated the conflict-stricken country for decades and seriously affected its citizens.

2016 witnessed the worst crackdown on free expression in Turkey. The failed coup in July has been used as an excuse to silence any oppositional voice. But already 2015 was a more than usually troubled year for Turkey; especially as the year wore on, with growing tensions on the Syrian border, and a crisis situation in the Kurdish south-east which is seeing a return of violence and the institution of curfews.

In our 2015 annual statistics report ‘Art under threat’, we noticed, “President Erdoğan seems to have a particularly thin skin when it comes to criticism. Since becoming president in August 2014, he has initiated well over 200 cases in which he claims he has been insulted. In the past year actors, singers, cartoonists and journalists have been investigated, tried and fined for mocking the president.”

The report also noted that “Turkey’s anti-terror law, long-criticised for its vagueness and for being applied primarily against Kurdish rights activists, has been used to imprison singer Nûdem Durak to a 10.5 year term for “promoting Kurdish propaganda.”

Censorship and repression is not a new phenomenon in Turkey. Military regimes have come and gone. Democratically elected governments have not always been very democratic and frequently abused most human rights standards.

For almost 20 years, Freemuse has documented violations on freedom of musical expressions and since 2012 also violations of other art forms in Turkey.

‘Turkey — The Freemuse Files’ is the first in a series of Freemuse compilations. The idea is to provide our readers, network partners and policymakers with an easy, quick overview of censorship in the past and present by country or by topic. This compilation presents a selection from the hundreds of Freemuse documents and publications on violations on artistic freedom in Turkey. You can find much more on our websites.

We would like to thank all the contributors, artists and network partners, who have generated so much material together with us.

Yours sincerely

Ole Reitov
Executive Director


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