Pamuk: Statement before trial for treason

  I will face trial this Friday in Sicily, the place where I have spent my whole life in Istanbul, just across from the courthouse in a three-story building where my grandmother has lived alone for forty years. My crime was “publicly defaming Turkish identity”. The prosecutor will offer to sentence me to three years in prison. Maybe Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was tried in the same court under the same decree under Article 301, will also fall on me. Despite this concern, I remain optimistic. Like my lawyer, because I believe the charges against me are untenable, I don’t think I’ll end up in jail.
  In this context, it is somewhat disturbing to see the exaggeration of my trial. But I know very well that many of my Istanbul mentors and friends have been subjected to undue torture, spent years in court and jailed for just one book, just because of what they have written. I live in a kingdom where glory always belongs to pashas, ​​saints, and police officers, and that glory that writers can only win after years of tormenting in court and in prison, so throw me in jail, Not surprised either. I understand why my friends laughed and told me that I had finally become “a real Turkish writer.” But I didn’t say things that would get me in trouble for the glory.
  In an interview published in a Swiss newspaper, I said: “One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey.” I complained again that discussing these things is a taboo in my country . Among the world’s serious historians, it is common sense that during World War I, millions of Ottoman Armenians were expelled for their alleged opposition to the Ottoman Empire, many of whom were slaughtered on the way. Turkish spokespersons, especially diplomats, continue to claim that the death toll is so low that the massacre cannot be classified as genocide because it was not systematic, and Armenians also killed many Muslims during the war. But anyway, this September, despite the state’s opposition, three highly respected Istanbul universities jointly held an open academic seminar on views that were not contained in the official Turkish front. Since then, for the first time in nine decades, there has been public discussion of the subject — albeit with the haunting ghost of Section 301.
  If the state insists on expanding the scope of the Ottoman Armenian experience without the Turkish people, then it is a taboo, and my words have caused outrage: various newspapers have launched campaigns against me, some right-wing (not necessarily Islamic sectarian) columnist even said I had better “shut up”; some nationalist extremists organized meetings and marches to protest my apostasy; publicly burned my writings. Like the card in my novel Snow, I had a momentary feeling of being forced to leave my beloved city because of my political views. Because I didn’t want to expand the debate, or even hear it, at first I was silent, shy, away from the public, and silent even to myself. Then one of the governors ordered my works to be burned, and as soon as I got back to Istanbul, the Sicilian prosecutor publicly prosecuted me, and I found myself a subject of international attention.
  The person who defames me is not just against me personally, nor is the malice directed against me alone; I know that my case deserves to be discussed in Turkey and abroad. Part of the reason is that I believe that tarnishing the “honor” of a country is not about discussing its historical taint, but about not being allowed to discuss it at all. Also, because I believe that in Turkey today, a ban on discussing Ottoman Armenians is a ban on free speech, and the two are inextricably linked. I was comforted by people showing concern and generous support for my plight, but there was also a period when I found myself caught between my country and the outside world, which unnerved me.
  The most puzzling is how to explain why a country that blatantly wants to enter the EU would even think of putting a writer of European fame in prison, why it has to (Conrad might say) finish “under the watchful eye of the West” What about this drama. This paradox cannot be explained simply as ignorance, jealousy, or intolerance. It’s not just a paradox. What can I do to a country that insists that the Turks (unlike their western neighbors) are a compassionate people and that genocide is impossible? Make death threats. What is the logic behind a country that complains that its enemies are spreading false reports about the Ottoman heritage around the world, while at the same time prosecuting and imprisoning writers one after another, so promoting the image of “terrible Turks” in the world? I was sued when I thought that the state asked a professor to express its conception of the Turkish minority, and the professor wrote a report that could not meet that requirement, or from the time I started writing this essay, to the time I started writing you are now During the sentence I read, when there were news reports that more than five writers and journalists had been charged under Section 301, I imagined that the two godfathers of Orientalism, Flaubert and Nevar, would say that these events were “strange”, of course!
  It is said that this drama that we are seeing is going on, I think it is not just a strange and inexplicable scene unique to Turkey, but rather it expresses a new global phenomenon of which we are only just beginning to understand , albeit slowly, we must now begin to learn to say it. In recent years, we have witnessed dizzying economic take-offs in some countries, and from these countries, we have also seen the explosion of the middle class, although I don’t think we can really understand these people until we read novels about their private lives. part of the conversion. Whatever you call these new elites—non-Western bourgeoisie or wealthy bureaucrats—they, like the Westernized elites in my own country, had to go after separate, apparently, westernized elites in order to legitimize their newfound wealth and power. Contradictory course of action. First, they must adopt a Western dialect and attitude to justify their rapid growth in wealth; and as this required knowledge is created, they will then begin to guide their fellow men. When the people accuse them of ignoring tradition, these people respond by wielding deadly, intolerant nationalism. Flaubertian onlookers might call it a “strange” debate, or it might just be a conflict between those political, economic projects and the cultural passions they create. On the one hand there is the drastic entry into the global economy, on the other is the angry nationalism that sees true democracy and freedom of thought as a Western invention.
  V.S. Naipaul was one of the first writers to describe the ruthless, brutal non-Western mainstream elite of the post-colonial era. In South Korea in May, I met the great Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe, who, I heard, was also criticized by nationalist radicals after he said that the hideous crimes committed by his country’s army when it invaded South Korea and China should be discussed openly in Tokyo. s attack.
  Just as the novelists of tomorrow will recount the private lives of the new elite, they are no doubt expecting Western criticism of their state’s restrictions on freedom of expression. But the lies about the Iraq war these days, and reports of secret CIA prisons, have seriously damaged the West’s credibility in Turkey and other countries, and have made for people like me, where I belong, In the world, it is increasingly difficult to make cases that belong to true Western democracy.