The 13th Istanbul Gathering for Freedom of Expression, which has been held biennially since 1997, was held online and broadcast live on YouTube in two languages (Turkish & English) on June 4-5, 2022, with a total of 43 witnesses and participants from Turkey and around the world.
The gathering started with the opening speech of the Initiative for Freedom of Expression Spokesperson Şanar Yurdatapan. The participants who lost their lives were initially commemorated with the history of the meetings that left behind a quarter of a century.
There were testimonies from Hungary (Emese Pasztor), Lebanon (Khalid İbrahim), Xinjiang (Jevlan Shirmemmet) and Iraq (Ali Al- Dahamt). The first panel was moderated by PEN President Burhan Sönmez, HRW’s Emma Sinclair Webb, Salous Boukhaoult from IFEX, Özgür Öğret from CPJ. The “State of the World” was debated in the panel.
After the first session, our dear friend Prof. Noam Chomsky, who never missed a Gathering, discussed the question of what kind of future awaits us.
In the last session of the first day, events from Turkey were discussed and the “Panorama of Freedom of Expression in Turkey” was created with witnesses Münir Korkmaz (Teacher dismissed with a Statutory Decree), Mahmut Konuk (Health Officer dismissed with a Statutory Decree), Esra Mungan (Academic), İlhan Öngör (AYHED), Meral Danış Beştaş (Parliament member), Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu (Parliament member), Şebnem Korur Fincancı (Turkish Medical Association), Fatmanur Güler (We Will Stop Femicides Platform), Adalet Kaya (Rosa Women’s Association), Gizem Külekçioğlu (Tarlabaşı Community Centre), Ragıp Zarakolu (Exiled Writer) and Doğan Özgüden (Exiled Writer).
In the first panel on the second day of the Gathering, which started with the witnessings of Semra Kuytul (Furkan Foundation), Ferit Şenyaşar (Justice Watch), Hamza Çiftçi (Van Bar Association) and Veysi Altay (Documentary Maker), “Freedom of Expression in Turkey” was discussed by Öztürk Türkdoğan from the Human Rights Association (IHD), Çoşkun Üsterci from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), Kaya Kartal from MAZLUMDER, Fatma Bostan from Rights Initiative, Kenan Kocatürk from Turkish Publishers Association and Bekir Ağırdır from TESEV under the moderation of Prof. Turgut Tarhanlı.
The second day of the Gathering continued with the witnessings of Süheyla Doğan (Association for the Protection of Ida Mountains), Yılmaz Odabaşı (Poet-Author), Oktay Candemir (Journalist) and Gökhan Biçici (Dokuz8 Haber). The second day and the Gathering ended with a panel moderated by Prof. Yaman Akdeniz, in which Sibel Güneş from the Journalists’ Association of Turkey, Gökhan Durmuş from the Journalists’ Union of Turkey, Nadire Mater from bianet, Veysel Ok from Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), Fatma Demirelli from P24 and media ombudsman Faruk Bildirici discussed “Access to Information and Freedom of Expression in the Media and Social Media”.13th Gathering