LETTER OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE TURKISH P.E.N.
To Ms. Zeynep Oral
President of Turkish PEN
Bucharest, July 22, 2016
Dear friends and colleagues of PEN Turkey,
We write to you as fellow-writers committed to protecting and defending the freedom of expression, as well as from the perspective of a common heritage, which is the tradition of safeguarding fundamental political, social, and cultural rights in our part of the world.
We understand and feel the terrible pressure you are under these days, and the profound indignation you resent in front of the atrocities currently perpetrated by your government under the pretext of restoring the constitutional order and of eliminating menaces from abroad. The pain experienced under such circumstances is aggravated by a consciousness of disenfranchisement: the symbolic protest available to decent human beings seems so meek compared to the disastrous inhumanity of a state turning its entire power against its own citizens.
We understand your position because here, in Romania, the wounds of discretionary government and thought police are still open. The massive release and arrest campaign undertaken by the Turkish government among the magistrates, the military, the educators, the opinion-makers of your country brings to memory the so-called “purification” of state institution organized by our Stalinist regime of the 1950s at the peak of its criminal drive.
Later on, the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, one of the most abhorrent examples of neo-Stalinist totalitarianism, coated its barbarity, very much in the vein of today’s rhetoric of the Turkish officials, in aggressive nationalistic slogans, with important doses of hate-speech and conspiratorial xenophobic paranoia.
Our country was driven in isolation, generalized fear, and material deprivation. Many authors had either to emigrate, or to refrain in what used to be called an “inner exile”. Those who opposed such chauvinistic leniencies in an overt or covert manner became the target of the ubiquitous political police, the Securitate. Ana Blandiana, the first post-Communist president of PEN Romania, was banned several years from publishing because of the manner in which her poems exposed and satirized Ceaușescu’s obsession with the overall control of society.
Given our recent experience with the abusive use of state power, but also our geographical closeness to Turkey and our historical connections and affinities, we supported from the very beginning the protests addressed by PEN International to the Turkish government, concerning the gradual restriction of the freedom of expression, unlawful surveillance of political opponents, the repeated blocking of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the censorship of books and publications, culminating in the imprisonment of journalists, academics, and authors such as Can Dündar, Erdem Gül, and Atalay Girgin. But it is obvious that the escalation of government repression subsequent to the attempted military coup created a state of emergency which calls for a new level of regional solidarity and commitment.
We wish to let you know that a letter of protest addressed to our President and Prime-Minister, urging them to express a firm protest against the human rights abuses of the Turkish government gathered an unprecedented support, both from concerned citizens and from civic associations, among which an important union-trade federation in our country. It goes without words that PEN Romania supported this letter.
We can also inform you that the Superior Council of Magistracy of Romania, a professional body that gained a substantial public credit in our current campaign against the corruption of state institutions, voiced its protest against the massive and unsubstantiated persecution of Turkish magistrates. We are persuaded that the Romanian civil society will continue to pressure its political representatives to condemn the irresponsible and revolting manner in which the current Turkish government terrorizes the Turkish civil society.
But first of all we want you to know that you are not alone in this extremely trying situation, and that your cause is also our cause. We are deeply concerned of the fate of each and every of you, our distinguished Turkish colleagues, who for so long have been on the frontline of defending civil freedoms and the dignity of our profession, in our part of the world. Our concerns and fears augment with every new disproportionate and hysterical action taken by officials whose common sense and humaneness seem to have been completely forgotten.
Therefore, please consider this letter as a form of empathy and of moral and communicational support. We will provide support to all actions done by PEN International in favor of Turkish writers and journalists. Please let us know if there is any practical way in which we could help you.
With sincere concern and solidarity,
Magda Carneci, president of PEN Romania
Caius Dobrescu, vice-president of PEN Romania
Leading Committee of PEN Romania