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A newlywed couple, having stayed at the Taksim Square protests day and night throughout the first week of demonstrations, hung a banner on the front of their tent with a message personally directed to the Prime Minister: “Dear sir, please let it go so we can go home and make love!” Passersby, depending on their political stance, either giggled or raised their...

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In the summer of 2013, a protest over the redevelopment of Istanbul's Gezi Park - one of the city's last green spaces - transformed into mass demonstrations against the government. Riot police used forceful measures to suppress the public, sparking an outcry among Turkish citizens. Widely documented through social media at the time - and covered for Free Word by our then-translator...

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Roger that Commander!

We did not know that you have put up with us that long, Commander. You have been disgusted by us and hidden it from us. You have wanted us to be gassed and dispersed like insects for years? You never even wanted us to find a doctor when we desperately needed one? No lawyer should come to defend us....

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They ask: “All because of three trees?”At start, yes, it was. Just for three trees. But now, all because of “three saplings,” all because of all the saplings in Turkey… It’s now for young trees, and for all the boys and girls that you try to suffocate with gas. It’s just because of your arrogance, it is becauseyou treat people as idiots...

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I became fixated with this question when I started reflecting on the topic I was asked to talk about at the Arcola Theatre in London: ‘Writing Turkey’. As Turkey was the Market Focus for this year’s London Book Fair, we, the writers from Turkey, were supposed to represent ‘all the colours of Turkey’, as advertised in promotional materials. Well, we did not...

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12 October 2012

This week‘s PEN Atlas piece reports from the Tanpınar literary festival in Turkey. Journalist Ece Temelkuran gives her personal response to this year’s festival

As world politics becomes bloodier, commercial literature becomes increasingly depoliticised. People eat, pray, love and think Tahrir Square is just crazy Arabs partying all night and the Madrid riots an attempt to break the record...

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01.06.2012

A German colleague of mine who is based in Egypt, covering the Arab Spring, was sipping his beer in Taksim, center of İstanbul, on a open terrace. Being aware of my critical articles on Turkey he said, "Don't write negative stuff about Turkey anymore. Look around! People are happy."

On a sunny day in Istanbul, contemplating the people around me, I...

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25.05.2012

"This cannot go on" said a journalist friend, referring to the oppression of the media, of Kurdish politics, the silencing of society and rising authoritarianism in Turkey. In return I asked: "Do you mean 'It is impossible for it to go on like this' or 'I will not let it go on like this'?" Because, as I still think, it CAN...

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11.05.2012

"So do you think Turkey is being Islamized?"

Although my speech was more or less a detailed account of Turkey's domestic politics, I was expecting this classical and rather shallow question from the audience. Last week at the Bruno Kreisky Forum in Vienna, our topic of the day was the rising authoritarianism in Turkey. Yet again, Islamization is still inevitably the...

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05.05.2012

"You were the one who produced and distributed the bad milk, we heard. We decided to drop by and see who you are. Don't get us wrong, we don't think you are the only guilty party in this business. Those who fell for your moderate Islamic style mustache and the scent of the rose oil that you wear - the ones...

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