Everyone is Afraid: Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk on Freedom of Speech in Turkey

During a recent interview with the Turkish newspaper The Daily Hurriyet, Noble laureate Orhan Pamuk openly expressed his concerns over the increasingly limited freedom of speech and the declining state of free journalism in his home country of Turkey; “The worst thing is that there’s a fear. I find that everyone is afraid; it’s not normal … Freedom of expression has fallen to a very low level.”

Author of the novels The White Castle and The Museum of Innocence, as well as the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, Pamuk has become not only a representative of Turkish literature, but his various works in non-fiction and journalism have made him a voice and advocate for freedom of speech and expression within the global community. In his interview, Pamuk described a rising climate of fear within the Turkish journalist community brought upon by an increase in harassment by the Turkish government itself.

Historically Turkish media has seen severe and radical measures taken against it by the government as a means to control and regulate the news being disseminated to the public. As PressTv writes:

Turkey has often been criticized for clamping down on journalists and sentencing them to long prison terms. Media freedom advocacy groups have on numerous occasions described the country as the world’s largest prison for journalists.

Exemplified by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent implementation of a series of laws designed to tighten control over internet access, Pamuk noted, that it is not only opposition journalists that are now being attacked:

“Lots of my friends tell me that such and such a journalist has lost his job. Now, even journalists who are very close to the government are getting harassed.”

Such a climate undoubtedly leaves the state of Turkey’s freedom of speech and journalistic expression in a precarious position. However, with continued efforts by individuals like Pamuk to address these issues with Turkish citizens and the global community, dialogues can be opened and shared in attempt to shed light and rectify this and other issues.

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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!