Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Freedom for Sevil Sevimli ! Turkish Repression Grows.

with 15 comments

Turkey is said to be run by a model ‘moderate’  Islamist government of Erdoğan and his party, the Justice and Development Party ( Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi). They say they are democrats, and support democracy in Syria.

What exactly is this ‘moderation’ and ‘democracy’?

L’Humanité carries this story today.

Un tribunal turc de Bursa a confirmé lundi l’interdiction de quitter la Turquie imposée à l’étudiante franco-turque Sevil Sevimli, accusée d’avoir entretenu des liens avec un groupe d’extrême-gauche interdit, et fixé la prochaine audience de son procès au 16 janvier.

A Turkish Tribunal at Bursa confirmed on Monday that the Franco-Turk student Sevil Sevimli, accused of having links with a banned Turkish extreme-left group is forbidden to leave Turkey. The next court appearance will be on the 16th of January.

Les InRocks states that there are at present 2824 students imprisoned in Turkey. 95 journalists are also in gaol under the ‘anti-terrrorism’ law’ aimed principally at the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK.

This is  background to her case,

À 20 ans, Sevil Sevimli a été incarcérée en Turquie le 9 mai pour des liens supposés avec une organisation terroriste d’extrême gauche. En année d’Erasmus à Eskisehir, dans l’Anatolie, l’étudiante lyonnaise en journalisme est accusée d’avoir défilé avec des milliers de manifestants à Istanbul. D’avoir assisté à un concert de Yorum, un groupe de rock turc contestataire. Puis collé des affiches pour l’enseignement gratuit. Pour ces chefs d’accusation, elle encourt entre 15 et 32 ans de prison.

Sevil Sevimli is 20 years old,. She has been imprisoned in Turkey since the 9th of May on allegations that she has links with a terrorist organisation of the far left. On an Erasmus bursary at Eskisehir, in Anatolia, the student in journalism from Lyon  is accused of having demonstrated with thousands of others in Istanbul and having attended a concert of the radical group Yorum. She then stuck up posters calling for free education. For these offences she risks from 15 to 32 years in Prison.

In the InRocks interview asked about the Turkish tradition of hospitality Sevimli states,

Dès qu’on rentre en Turquie, c’est une autre histoire. Dès qu’on exprime une volonté de laïcité, on n’est pas dans la norme. Si on n’est pas croyant, on est marginal. Dans un journal, il y avait une caricature faite sur moi. Au lieu du « bienvenue en Turquie », on pouvait lire « bienvenue dans une organisation armée terroriste ».

When you come to Turkey it’s another story. As soon as you express support for secularism you’re not normal. If you’re not a believer, you’re marginal. In a newspaper there  was a caricature of me. Instead of saying ‘Welcome to Turkey’  you could read, ‘Welcome to an armed terrorist group’.

A support group states,

“Sevil is not alone in her case, far from it, hundreds of people, journalists, academicians, students and intellectuals are imprisoned in Turkey due to the exception laws that are supposed to fight against terrorism. The problem is that these laws became an instrument to gag any kind of contestation in the country. Sevil is a symbol because in her situation the injustice is obvious and there are hefty fines out of all proportion to the alleged offenses: she is accused to “belong to a terrorist group”.”

Petition Here.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

15 Responses

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  1. I have just finished reading ‘Snodw’ by Orphan Pamuk which is about the fight between Islamicists and secularists. From what he writes, Turkey is haunted by a fear of ‘athieism’, it is something those ‘godless’ Europeans do. From my own limited experience, I have seen this locally. We have a lot of Turks in this area, and I once got into a dispute with a fellow maning a stall pushing anti-evolutionary books. My neighbour, who is Turkish and has lived in England for 40 years was also there. Once I admitted I was an atheist, I was deemed to be non-existent and not even worth talking to. Even my neighbour took this view, although later she came up to me and said she hoped it wouldn’t affect our friendship. It is not hard to imagine the short step from refusing to debatewith someone to killing them for being an apostate, or ‘godless’. It seems to stem from a terror that without being told what to do, people would run amok. A poster on the CNN news site summed it up for me when he wrote that the world has to be horrid because that makes people behave because they know that when they die they will enjoy a better existence. Really!
    On the plus side, I see that the poor child in Pakistan who was accused of blasphemy,, Rimsha, has had theproceedings quashed. One down, how many more to go?

    Sue r

    November 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    • Turkey’s quite a hot spot for Creationism,

      “Adnan Oktar (born 1956), also known as Harun Yahya,[1] is “the biggest propagator of ijaz literature”[2] and an Islamic creationist.[3] In 2007, he sent thousands of unsolicited copies of his book, Atlas of Creation,[4] which advocates Islamic creationism, to American scientists, members of Congress, and science museums.[5] Oktar runs two organizations of which he is also the Honorary President: Bilim Araştırma Vakfı (“Science Research Foundation”, BAV, established 1990), which promotes creationism and Milli Değerleri Koruma Vakfı (“Foundation to Protect National Values”, established 1995) which claimed to promote Turkish nationalism.[6] In the last two decades, Oktar has been involved in a number of legal cases, both as defendant and plaintiff.”

      I have read this stuff is very popular in Islamist circles.

      Andrew Coates

      November 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  2. Call-me-Dave Cameron is on record as being of the opinion that Turkey would make an appropriate member of the EU and that those who say anything else are bigoted and prejudiced and, quite possibly, racist as well.

    Bingo Little

    November 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm

  3. It is true the AK Party is becoming increasingly strident but to suggest this brands all Turks as Muslim fanatics is ridiculous, it is like saying all Germans were Nazis. Turkey faces the same problem the UK did under Thatcher, the opposition are hopeless. (And speaking bluntly I would include much of the Kurdish opposition.)

    The weakness of the opposition has left the AK in power almost unopposed, it has not been idle and over the years had the time and space to infiltrate their people into positions of power right across Turkish society. Yet still people resist.

    As to the EU, I do not believe it ever intended to allow Turkey membership, the way it has treated the country is shameful and disrespectful. Today many Turks have lost interest in the EU and if you look how the EU elites have treated the Greeks who can blame them.

    What is strange about some socialists conception of Turkey, is they ignore the fact the least secular part is the mainly Kurdish south east.

    Mick Hall

    November 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

  4. Making sense of the rival power centres in Turkey needs a very big blank sheet of paper.

    The Kemalist secularists are deeply suspicious of ‘democracy’ and detest all non-Turks. For them the
    Christian, Jewish and Kurdish minorities in present-day Turkey are, at best, nuisances to be endured. The Kemalist secularists’ power is waning.

    The Islamists of various hues have patience and are willing to wait, taking every opportunity to weaken the Kemalists. The Islamists’ power is steadily growing, especially in the education sector.

    Bourgeois liberal democrats and leftists of all hues are of no importance outside the intelligentsia and the literati. In a totally free election they’d be lucky to get 10% of the vote.

    It is instructive to compare the situation of the Turkish minority in Greece [rural and unsophisticated but growing numerically and proportionately] with that of the Greek minority in Turkey [urban, literate, ageing and in terminal decline since 1955.]

    Check out Imbros and Tenedos on Wikipedia; both islands had Greek majorities within living memory. Now, the Greek populations of the two islands have almost disappeared.

    An interesting minor detail is that expatriate Turks in such countries as Germany and Austria are instructed to join Leftist parties and whine for concessions of one kind or another.

    Bingo Little

    November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm

  5. “An interesting minor detail is that expatriate Turks in such countries as Germany and Austria are instructed to join Leftist parties and whine for concessions of one kind or another.”

    Instructed by whom?

    Mick Hall

    November 21, 2012 at 12:21 am

  6. […] Quelle: Avaaz, wo auch eine Petition unterschrieben werden kann, hat tip to Tendance Coatesy: […]

  7. the AKP is more interested in good relationships with the CDU … in DIE LINKE, you find mainly people close to BDP or EMEP or independent leftists from Turkey and Kurdistan, who aren’t particularly fond on the Turkish state


    November 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

  8. Andrew wrote: I don’t think any of the left in Turkey has a good relation with the state.

    apart from the ultra-kemalist ex-maoists in Doğu Perinçek’s İşçi Partisi who have good contacts to anti-AKP-forces in army, secret service and state bureaucracy … but they don’t have any influence in the Turkish diaspora in Europe


    November 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm

  9. Andrew,

    Indeed, down the years the predecessors of the mainly Kurdish BDP have all been banned, whereas in the past it was the secular heirs of Ataturk which banned them, today the AK is not slow at coming forward, although to be fair they have not ‘yet’ banned the BDP.

    Journalist have also been a state target and still are to this day, I feel it is written the longer people stay in power the more reactionary they get and the more they refuse to take criticism. In a perfect world no senior politicians should hold state power for more than two terms and that goes for the left, if a leader cannot groom an able successor within 8 or 10 years they have failed.

    Organized Rage

    November 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    • Turkey’s secularism has always been a mixed affair,

      “The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is entirely organized by the state, through the Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Religious Affairs Directorate), which supervises all mosques, educates the imams who work in them, and approves all content for religious services and prayers. It appoints imams, who are classified as civil servants.[13] This micromanagement of Sunni religious at times seems much more sectarian than secular as it violates the principle of state neutrality in religious practice. Groups that have expressed dissatisfaction with this situation include a variety of extra-governmental Sunni / Hanafi groups (such as the Nurci movement), whose interpretation of Islam tends to be more activist; and the non-Sunni Alevilik, whose members tend to resent supporting the Sunni establishment with their tax monies (the Turkish state does not subsidize Alevi religious activities).”


      “Critics[who?] argue that the Turkish state’s support for and regulation of Sunni religious institutions – including mandatory religious education for children deemed by the state to be Muslims – amount to de facto violations of secularism.”

      Nor is this simply a matter of the state.

      An – Alevi background – Kurd I know says that she was very affected by the Sivas massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sivas_massacre

      “The oppression reached its dénouement in Sivas on 2 July 1993, when thirty-six people (Alevis, intellectuals, and a Dutch anthropologist) attending the Pir Sultan Abdal Festival were burned to death in a hotel by Sunni locals. Attending the conference was a left-wing Turkish intellectual Aziz Nesin who was vastly hated amongst religious Sunnis in Turkey as it was he who attempted to publish Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel Satanic Verses, in Turkey.”

      “The attack took place not long after traditional Friday prayers, when the mob broke through police barricades to surround the Otel Madımak, where artists, writers and musicians had gathered to celebrate 16th century Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal. Reportedly angered by the presence of Aziz Nesin, a writer who had translated and published extracts from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, the enraged fundamentalists surrounded the hotel, shouting “Death to the infidel!” and threatening the assembled artists with lynching.[1] The hotel was set alight, and the fire claimed 35 lives, including those of musicians, poets, tourists and hotel staff, while assembled police did nothing to intervene.[2] Aziz Nesin was able to escape only because attackers initially failed to recognize him. According to reports, when rescuers eventually realized his identity, he was beaten by firemen while a city councilman, Cafer Erçakmak, from the Welfare Party shouted, “This is the devil we should have really killed.”

      That is from the Party now in government.

      Andrew Coates

      November 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  10. ‘apart from the ultra-kemalist ex-maoists in Doğu Perinçek’s İşçi Partisi ‘

    Yes they are a weird bunch, surely he’s the militaries tout? Although is he not a defendant in the Ergenekon trials? The fact one minute he was meeting the PKK leadership and the next he is on trial along side Generals, etc show what a Byzantine set up the Turkish state is.

    Organized Rage

    November 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

  11. Andrew
    You raise an interesting point about the state and religion, Ataturk probably had the best of intentions when he took control of the mosques etc, if he had not done this they would have fought tooth and nail against any progress. The problem is times change and I doubt Ataturk would have ever imagined the Islamists would be allowed to return to state power and influence.

    Still we cannot be to smug as we also live in a state which has mandatory religious education for children and the head of state is also the head of the church, which makes the vote in the CoE Synod yesterday the height of hypocrisy to say the least. Perhaps they should bin Betsy now.

    What a load of dangerous bollocks organised religion is.

    Mick Hall

    November 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm

  12. according to http://de.indymedia.org/2012/11/338313.shtml (in German), the Turkish army has used chemical weapons against a unit of the maoist MKP–HKO in Dersim


    November 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm

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