MESOP – TAKE ACTION : Join English PEN’s Social Media Action for Fazil Say, Writer/Composer on Trial in Turkey

English PEN has initiated an alert for Fazil Say, whose trial on charges of religious defamation is under way, with the next hearing on 18th February. (See PEN alert on the investigation into PEN Turkey for its comments on the case

PEN Centres may also wish to join English PEN in its protests, following the advice given below. Note particularly for Twitter and Facebook users the suggestion for action through social media.

[Turkey] English PEN protests charges against Fazýl Say

Posted February 13th, 2013 by Cat Lucas & filed under&nb sp;Campaigns.


On 18 February 2013, celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazýl Say will appear in court for the second time for comments posted on Twitter.

Fazýl Say, an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Erdoðan, has been charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code in response to a series of messages posted on Twitter, including one which simply states: “I am an atheist and I am proud to be able to say this so comfortably.” He has also been charged under Article 218 of the Turkish Penal Code, which increases sentences by half for offences committed “via press or broadcast”. Say denies the charges.

Say first appear ed in court in Istanbul on 18 October 2012, where his lawyers demanded his immediate acquittal. The acquittal call was rejected and the case adjourned until 18 February 2013. He faces up to 18 months in prison if found guilty.

Fazýl Say is gravely concerned about the negative impact a prison sentence would have on his career as the country’s leading classical composer and an internationally-renowned pianist. Furthermore, he has suggested that he would consider moving abroad as a result of the “growing culture of intolerance” in Turkey.

English PEN believes that the charges against Say violate his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory. Even those who are usually critical of Say have voiced concerns over this case, which they believe could be damaging to Turkey’s international reputation. Meanwhile Egemen Baðýþ, the minister for EU affairs with whom the PEN International delegation met during their mission to Turkey last November, has been reported as saying that the case against Say should be dismissed, describing the tweets in question as “his right to babble”.

Of further concern to PEN is the fact that our colleagues at PEN Turkey are currently under investigation for “insulting the state” as a result of critical comments about the ongoing prosecution of Say. Six members of the PEN Turkey board (President Tarýk Günersel, Vice-President Halil Ýbrahim Özcan, General Secretary Sabri Kuþkonmaz, Treasurer Tülin Dursun, and board members Zeynep Oral and Mario Levi) and poet and critic Nihat Ateþ (who uploaded the content to the PEN Turkey website) werecalled in for questioning in January 2013 by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation is ongoing.


Show your support via social media

Please join us in sending a mass message of support for Fazýl Say, by suppo rting our Thunderclap. Participants in the Thunderclap agree for an automatic message to be sent from their Twitter and/or Facebook account, but only if we reach our target of 100 supporters by Monday 18 February. If the target is reached, a mass message goes from the accounts of all participants simultaneously.

Send letters of appeal

·         Protesting the charges against Fazýl Say, which violate his right to free expression;

·         Calling for the investigation against PEN Turkey to be dropped.

Appeals to

Mr Sadullah Ergin

Minister of Justice

06669 Kizilay



Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370


You may also consider sending appeals to the Turkish ambassador in your own country.

Sara Whyatt | Deputy Director | Sous-Directeur | Sub-Directora | PEN International

t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338 | e. Twitter | Facebook |