Saturday, July 29, 2006

Danish Artists Call for Free Speech in Turkey

Thursday, July 27 , 2006

Stickers made by two Danish artists aimed to protest limitations on freedom of speech in Turkey

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Two Danish artists on Monday plastered sarcastic stickers across Ankara , protesting limits on the freedom of speech in Turkey -- the latest stop in the pair's international campaign to use ironic and humorous messages to spark debate.

Pia Bertelsen and Jan Egesborg were focusing on restrictions against freedom of speech in Turkey.

"We know you love Kurdish television," read one of the stickers, featuring a picture of Turkish Prime Minister Erdo─čan on a TV screen. "We know you care about freedom of speech," read another.

Turkey has had several attempts to shut a Kurdish-language satellite television station that broadcasts from Denmark , saying that Denmark-based Roj TV supports the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once furiously left a press conference in Denmark early, after finding out that Roj TV reporters were among press members in the room.

The visit to Ankara was part of a global tour that has taken the artists already to Serbia and Belarus. They also took out local advertising space in Zimbabwe.

The two artists told the Turkish Daily News their intention was not to offend or provoke. Instead, they wanted to get people to think about freedom of speech issues. Although the stickers mainly concentrated on Kurdish TV, "It is more a general support of freedom of speech," Egesborg said. "We are worried about the situation because, if Turkey is going to be a member (of the EU), it has got to have freedom of speech."

Egesborg said he supported Turkey 's European Union membership. "It would be a disaster if Turkey does not enter the EU."

"How to relate to minorities is an issue in Denmark and Turkey," Bertelsen said. "But in Denmark people can communicate what they think, in Turkey they can't."