Writer Fikret Başkaya appears before court for “The Real Terror is State Terror” article

21 March 2019

Ankara - Writer Fikret Başkaya appeared before court for the first hearing of the trial where is charged with terrorist propaganda because of an article titled “The Real Terror is State Terror,” published on the Free University’s website, which is affiliated with the Forum for Turkey and the Middle East, founded and headed by Başkaya. In his defense statement, Başkaya rejected the charges imputed on him and noted: “Finding ‘terrorist propaganda’ in an article that was written against terrorism and even condemned terrorism can only be explained by the esteemed prosecutor’s high reading and comprehension skills.” The trial is adjourned until 10 September.

Fikret Başkaya and his lawyers were present in the courtroom for the hearing, which was held at Ankara 21st High Criminal Court. Among those who monitored the trial were sociologist İsmail Beşikçi, academic Baskın Oran and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Kocaeli MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

In his defense statement, Başkaya refused the “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge and said the following:

“Finding ‘terrorist propaganda’ in an article that was written against terrorism and even condemned terrorism can only be explained by the esteemed prosecutor’s high reading and comprehension skills. As a matter of fact, in an indictment of 43 pages, 29 pages are allocated to the history of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), followed by a 11-page section on defining what terrorist propaganda is. The indictment has only one page about me. Hence, I’d like to say that this is not a serious indictment. It is neither consistent nor convincing. It occupies the court’s precious time in vain.”

My goal was to define the concept of terror  

Noting that his article did not praise any methods of terrorism that consist coercion and violence, Başkaya noted: “In writing such an article, my goal was to better explain what the terms terrorism and terrorist mean, lay bare the sovereign’s discourse, and exhibit the inconsistency between the discourse and practice. Propaganda for an organization is completely out of the question.”

Are unsolved murders not state terror?

Noting that the most notorious terrorist states are the USA and Israel, Başkaya stated that Turkey committed state terror during the coups of 12 March 1971 and 12 September 1980. Reminding the court of forced disappearances, unsolved political murders, the massacre where 34 villagers were bombed in Roboski and Uğur Kaymaz, a child killed with a police officer’s bullet, Başkaya asked: “Are these not acts of state terrorism?” He continued:

“This state, this regime is an impenitent enemy of free thought, liberties, and democracy. It deems dissidents as the enemy, those who think differently as traitors and treats them as such. If not straight up murdered them, this state had forced its most valuable writers, poets, artists, thinkers, journalists, and scientists to rot in prisons, left them unemployed and hungry, forced them into exile. However, a regime that bans free thought, free speech, the freedom to debate cannot see forward, cannot find its way; it rots and collapses.”

The Presiding Judge read out loud a section from Başkaya’s article and asked, “What do you mean by counterattack here?” Başkaya responded, “What I meant here was, it is natural for those who demand freedom in the world, those who fight for their rights to be punished by the sovereign. It is also natural for those who face such punishments to fight back and resist. There is a dialectical relationship here.”

ise “Burada söylemek istediğim her kim dünyada özgürlük istiyorsa, hak talep ediyorsa egemenler tarafından cezalandırılması doğaldır. Saldırıya uğrayanın buna karşı direnmesi de doğaldır. Burada diyalektik bir ilişki vardır” karşılığını verdi.

There is a clear attack on free thought

Başkaya’s lawyer Levent Kanat stated that the indictment of the case is “a clear attack on freedom of thought.” Criticizing the prosecutor who prepared the indictment and the investigation period, Kanat noted that Başkaya’s computer was confiscated without him being able to get a backup, which was against the law. Kanat said, “It is mentioned here that Başkaya has affiliations with leftist organizations based on unconfirmed information. If a piece of information is not confirmed with proof, why would it be included in a file? This is against the law. Are we a law state or a police state?” Kanat requested Başkaya’s acquittal.

Başkaya’s lawyer İlhan Acar said that mob leader Sedat Peker writing “We will let your blood flow in streams and we will take a shower in your blood,” on his website was considered within freedom of speech whereas Başkaya stands trial for his ideas. Acar said that he feels ashamed for such double standard.

The prosecutor requested extra time to prepare the opinion as to the accusations. The court accepted this request and adjourned the trial until 10 September.