TYB Demands the Release of Journalist Zengin and Writer Akhanlı
dimanche 29 août 2010, par Maison Populaire de Genève
Depuis le 10 août le célèbre écrivain turc Dogan Akhanli est emprisonné à Istanbul . L’ auteur vit à Cologne depuis 1992 et a reçu un prix de littérature l’an dernier. Selon le journal Hurriyet c’est la première fois depuis 1991, moment où il a fuit le pays, qu’il se rendait en Turquie, pour rendre visite à son père malade . A l’aéroport d’Istanbul , il a été arrêté et accusé d’avoir participé en octobre 1989 à un vol dans un bureau de change à Istanbul , dans lequel un homme a été tué . Akhanli a rejeté tout lien avec cette attaque. Il apparaitrait en revanche, selon un certain nombre de journalistes turcs que Dogan Akhanli aurait été arrêté en raison de son engagement pour la reconnaissance du génocide des Arméniens.
Né en 1957 Akhanli a dû en raison de ses activités politiques après le coup d’état militaire du 12 Septembre 1980 entrer dans la clandestinité . En 1985, il a été emprisonné et torturé pendant sa détention de deux ans dans une prison militaire à Istanbul . En 1991, il a réussi à s’enfuir en Allemagne , où il a été obtenu un statut de réfugié politique avant de recevoir en 2001 la citoyenneté allemande.
Selon ses avocats à Istanbul et à Cologne , les charges présentées contre Akhanli ne sont pas utilisables. Elles s’appuient sur un témoignage incriminant extorqué sous la torture en 1992.
Contrairement aux dispositions du droit international le consulat allemand n’a pas été prévenu par les autorités turques de l’arrestation du citoyen allemand Akhanli.
La presse turque et allemande estiment que l’écrivain n’a pas été uniquement arrêté à cause de l’accusation de vol.
Dogan Akhanli est engagé dans des projets relatifs à la mémoire des génocides du 20ème Siècle avec une Association internationale de recherche. Son roman de 1999 « Les juges du Jugement dernier » s’intéresse notamment aux raisons pour lesquelles l’Etat turc jusqu’à ce jour a nié le génocide des Arméniens pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. Dogan Akhanli a également plaidé en faveur de l’ enquête sur l’assassinat du journaliste arménien Hrant Dink par un nationaliste turc en 2007 à Istanbul.
« Akhanli avait déjà été emprisonné pour sa lutte contre le 12 septembre » a déclaré Ragib Zarakolu, le président de la commission de la liberté de la presse des éditeurs turcs à Istanbul C’est une ironie du sort que l’écrivain peu avant le référendum visant à modifier la constitution issue du coup d’état du 12 Septembre ait été arrêté alors que le pays cherche à rompre avec une certaine mentalité.
Ulla Jelpke, député au Bundestag et porte parole du parti Die Linke pour les questions intérieures a demandé dans une lettre au ministre turc de la Justice Ergin Sadullah la libération immédiate de Dogan Akhanli.
L’écrivain Günter Wallraff résident à Cologne voit un lien entre les actions des autorités turques contre Dogan Akhanli et son implication dans la question du génocide turc des Arméniens pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. « Certains milieux de la justice turque ont voulu se venger sur un auteur » a déclaré Günter Wallraff.
Well-known writer of Turkish origin Dogan Akhanli was arrested at Istanbul airport on August 10 and has been imprisoned at the Metris prison facility since then. He was in Turkey to visit his ailing father in Turkey. Akhanli had become a German citizens in 2001. This was his very first visit to Turkey since his escape in 1991.
Turkish prosecutors accuse Akhanli of having participated, in October 1989, in an armed robbery of a currency exchange store. The robbery resulted in the death of a person. Akhanli rejects the accusations and states that he has no knowledge of or connection to the robbery. His defense attorneys, Haydar Erol in Istanbul and Ilias Uyar in Cologne also dismiss the evidence presented by the Turkish prosecution as entirely unsubstantiated.
In fact, the first witness to implicate Akhanli in 1992 was tortured (for which medical evidence has been presented) and, therefore the witness statements cannot be used in a court of law. Police presented another witness, in this case the son of the person who died in the robbery, with photos that exclusively showed Akhanli and then pressured him to identify Akhanli. The witness agreed with the police and suggested that Akhanli was one of the three participants in the robbery and confirmed that he could identify him in person. In a proper court of law a person must be presented with photos of several potential suspects to be able to identify a person.
Akhanli’s friends and colleagues issued a statement noting that due process would require that the accused be set free because of the lack of evidence. However, the prosecutor responsible for this case decided after a mere 20 minutes that the case would go forward. A first official complaint on August 20, 2010 was rejected, followed by Akhanli’s transfer out of Istanbul to Tekirdag (on the Marmara coast). This transfer makes visits from his attorneys, German consular officials and his relatives difficult or impossible.
The statement further noted, “Akhanli was aware of vague accusations against him. Prior to his departure he had arranged for a defense team and alerted friends in case of his arrest. As his friends, colleagues and engaged citizens, we accept that the Turkish authorities have the right to investigate the armed robbery. But we also expect that the justice system examine the evidence very carefully and we expect the immediate release of the accused.”
Dogan Akhanli went underground following the military coup in 1980. From 1985-1987 held in a military facility in Istanbul, he was tortured. In 1991, he escaped to Germany where he was accepted as a political refugee. Turkey removed all his citizenship rights following his escape. Since the mid-90s he lives as a writer in the city of Cologne. In his writings he addresses topics ranging from memorializing genocides of the 20th century, intercultural dialogue, and reconciliation. Akhanli has received numerous awards and prizes. He is engaged in pursuing information related to Hrant Dink’s assassination.
The Armenian Weekly thanks Prof. Vera Eccarius-Kelly for translating from German the press release based on which this article was written. (Armenian Weekly, August 24, 2010)
Suzan Zengin, İşçi-Köylü (’Workers-Peasants) newspaper representative of the Kartal office (east of Istanbul) has been detained for a whole year now under charges of "membership of an illegal organization". The first hearing of her case is scheduled for 26 August. Ragıp Zarakolu, President of the Freedom of Publishing Committee of the Turkish Publishers Association (TYB), said that Zengin should be released.
The association held a press conference in the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) to draw attention to the situation of Zengin and also to demand the release of writer Doğan Akhanlı. He had to leave Turkey in the course of the events around the military coup on 12 September 1980. Akhanlı returned to Turkey 18 years later. He was arrested at the airport and detained in Metris Prison (Istanbul).
Zarakolu criticized that the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) is used to oppress the socialist and the Kurdish press :
"A campaign against the TMY has to be initiated. As long as the TMY is in force as it is, arbitrary applications will be imposed on journalists. Zengin is being detained for more than a year without a reason. Akhanlı was tortured and imprisoned because of this struggle against the 12 September [military coup] fascism. It is the irony of history that he is being detained because of the mindset of 12 September just before the referendum on 12 September [on the constitutional reform package] which is meant to change that very mindset", Zarakolu stated.
Zengin : They wanted Suzan to lose influence
The husband of journalist Suzan Zengin, Bekir Zengin, talked about his wife’s detention :
"Suzan was detained in particular because of her influence in Kartal. They wanted her to lose that influence and to leave the area. She was detained despite a lack of evidence. When they raided our house they told her not to take any personal belongings with her. We understood that she would be in detention for a while".
Abay : Press organizations should show Zengin the same sensitivity they showed Balbay
Necati Abay from the Solidarity Platform for Detained Journalists (TGDP) visited detained journalists Mustafa Balbay and Tuncay Özkan last week. After his visit he addressed the heads of the professional press organizations with an urgent call :
"I call Oktay Ekşi, Orhan Erinç and Ercan Ipekçi. They should show Suzan Zengin the same sensitivity as they are showing the two journalists who are detained in Silivri (west of Istanbul) in the scope of the Ergenekon trial".
"Poyraz, Özkan and Balbay are not detained because of journalism"
Abay later on said that according to his figures, 37 journalists are currently detained in prison.
"Seven people from the Azadiya Welat newspaper are in detention, seven from Atılım [Advance] newspaper, six people from the DİHA news agency, two from Gündem [Agenda] newspaper, two from Işçi-Köylü newspaper, and one person each from Özgür [Free] Radio, Özgür Gençlik [Free Youth] magazine, Gün [Day] TV, Özgür Halk [Free People] Magazine, Radio Dünya [World], Aram Publishing, Emek and Adalet [Labour and Justice], Eylül [September] magazine, Yürüyüş [March] magazine, Devrimci Demokrasi [Revolutionary Democracy] newspaper, Devrimci Hareket [Revolutionary Movement] magazine, Kadının Umundunun Rengi [Colour of Woman’s Hope] newspaper and the Odak [Focus] magazine".
bianet asked Abay why the number he gave was different from the figures given by the professional press organizations. He replied :
"Some persons such as Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Özkan or Ergun Poyraz are not detained because of journalism. Together with the ones released we counted 37 according to our evaluation".
Toğay Okay from the Isçi-Köylü newspaper and Yıldız Uygun from Özgür University reiterated the claim to release Zengin.
Zengin’s hearing is scheduled for 10.00 am on Thursday morning (26 August) at the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) 10th High Criminal Court. Another press statement will be released in front of the Court House at 9.30 am.
(BIA, Berivan TAPAN, 25 August 2010)