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"Black Monday": Turkish free expression activists organise civil disobedience actions against censorship

The Freedom of Expression Network - Turkey organises civil disobedience actions on the first Monday of every month in solidarity with individuals who have been investigated for exercising their right to free expression. Here is an overview of the individuals they are defending.

Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey

This statement was written by Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey on 6 June 2016.

The Freedom of Expression Network - Turkey takes on actions 5 or 6 people at a time as it focuses on sustainability and practicality – two crucial aspects of a long-run series of civil disobedience action plan. (See strategy sheet below for more information.)

On the second Black Monday, we have partaken in three crimes:

1. Murat Belge's crime (!?): (On the charge of "insulting the President", in his op-ed published in Taraf daily). Our petition was transferred to Kartal Courthouse.

2. Karan and Çetinkaya's crime (!?): (On the charge of "deliberately insulting the religious values of a section of the society", through republishing Charlie Hebdo's cover regarding the attack targeting the magazine). Press Crimes Prosecutor Emin Aydinç has put the petition in process and we have given our first depositions.

3. Chris Stephenson's crime (!?): (On the charge of "terrorist organization propaganda", due to HDP invites found in his bag). Organized Crime Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz has responded "I don't accept such trifling petitions" .

We reminded that it is not possible for him NOT to accept a petition, that this is a Constitutional offense yet he insisted on not taking our petition.

We asked him to indicate this in writing, which he refused to do as well. We sent our petition and a report on his conduct, to the Office of Chief Public Prosecutor via mail. If this office continues the same conduct, we will both complain to HSYK (Higher Council of Judges and Prosecutors) and demur the court.

The network will continue its actions, with nodes in Ankara, İstanbul, İzmir, Kuşadası and soon in Adana.

As the result of two meetings held on February 12, 2016 in Ankara and on February 17, 2016 in Izmir, now we may declare that the first step is taken to constitute Freedom of Expression Network Turkey which will be open to contributions by everyone who is responsive, starting with three big cities. Happily, our declaration coincided with February 20: World Non-Violent Resistance Day.

This network is not a senior organisation, it is the coordination of initiatives constituted by people responsive to these issues. Each initiative is autonomous. It will continue to decide what to do – or not to do- by itself.

Moreover, not only the initiatives – but also the individuals forming the initiatives – are autonomous for participating or not participating or partly attending the works to be done.

When a new action is offered, individuals volunteer to participate. Naturally they claim “ethical and legal” responsibility and they form “the initiative” for “that action.”

What will be done?

All together or individually:

1. Civil Disobedience (Participating in the crimes(!) of Thought and denouncing ourselves to prosecutors)

2. Case observation (Not leaving Thought Criminals alone in the courts)

3. Seminars, conferences, panels (to hold or have it held)

4. Public works (Write in newspapers if you can, talk on TV if you have chance)

5. .... there is no end to creativity. It is an open structure.

The main principles

1. No “all or none” for these works. Everyone is free to participate in the part they adopt, or free not to participate in an action, or they can attend the next action.

2. We are nonregistered. We don't have any worries for registering with the official establishment. On the contrary, Civil Society works do not have to give account to anyone.

3. Yes, our power comes from unity. But this unity should mean a collaboration consisting in respect of diversity in every sense and voluntary unification.

The CALL

We invite everyone to participate who is responsive to this issue. This structure will be more effective if it is not limited in the three major cities and extends across the country. We know that there are many people sharing the same thoughts and feelings, but they think they are alone.

No, we are not alone. Participate this network by forming your city/district/town/village/neighbourhood initiatives with people who think the way you do.

Our structure is open to all participations from the smallest to the biggest.

Initiative for Freedom of Expression (İstanbul)

Contact: +90 535 368 9113 [email protected]

Ankara Freedom of Expression Initiative (Ankara)

Contact: +90532 652 9956 [email protected]

İzmir Freedom of Expression Initiative (İzmir)

Contact: +90 532 353 6415 [email protected]

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