Who Are We?

Who Are We?


We are the Initiative for Freedom of Expression

We’re neither an association, nor a foundation, nor a chamber, nor a union. So we’re not registered as any type of organization defined by the state.

Is it by choice? Of course not.

We were established in 1995, in the backyard of the court where Yaşar Kemal was being tried.

We started our journey with a pledge: “who ever gets into trouble due to their thoughts, we will co-sign their statement in participation to their crime(!?). Even if we don’t agree with their thoughts... We will tell them to punish all of us, if an expression of thought is a crime.”

Can there be an association purposed to violate the law and calling everyone to participate? OF COURSE NOT.

But “Can a non-violent expression of thought -by statement, writing, music or theatre-” be considered a crime? OF COURSE NOT.

I’m the one who has started the initiative, and I’m the one who undertakes all legal responsibility. But I’m not the “President” or anything. There isn’t such a post whatsoever. There isn’t membership, nor any board. There isn’t any congress, there is nothing customary. But there is the Initiative for Freedom of Expression. It’s been there for 24 years.

It’s also an active member of the international umbrella organization concerned with these issues: IFEX.

I’ve been taken into custody, arrested many times and even served sentence once. But the Initiative for Freedom of Expression kept existing. Because many people who form it, were connected to each other behind their computers; even when living separate lives, working in separate jobs. Our work was never interrupted.

They couldn’t find any headquarters to shut down or seal the doors of. Because it didn’t exist.

The secret behind our existence for almost a quarter-century lies right here. (We celebrated our 24th anniversary on January 23rd, 2019)

Everyone can propose an action. Everyone participates into the action that they agree with. When people participate into whatever action, they become the Initiative for that action. And they hold responsibility.

It’s as simple as that, or as complicated... But we’re among the few institutions based on rights, that managed to exist for so long.

Şanar Yurdatapan, 26.01.2019