Turkish artist Bedri Baykam holds protest for Palestinian poet
HÜRRİYET photoTurkish artist Bedri Baykam held a press conference on Dec. 7 to protest Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to sentence Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death.
Baykam, the president of the International Art Association (IAA), held the conference at Piramid Sanat in Istanbul’s Taksim neighborhood to raise awareness about the impending execution.
“Every single day we gather for democratic rights and freedom,” Baykam said, and continued: “This conference is held under the shadow of recent pressures on [daily] Cumhuriyet newspaper and the restrictions on the freedom of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. We will be reacting against all types of restrictions on the press, thought and the arts. Fayadh, who was sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes in August 2013 because of his poetry book ‘Instructions Within,’ was later on sentenced to death upon appeal. This decision caused worldwide reactions. Many organizations including the IAA, PEN and the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) started to stop this cruel punishment.”
Speaking of their initiatives as the IAA, Baykam said, “We have sent an open letter to Saudi Arabian King Salman to show mercy and release him. We have delivered this letter to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Turkey, too. We will get in touch with the Saudi Arabia UNESCO representative via UNESCO Permanent Delegate of Turkey Hüseyin Avni Botsalı. Also, we have delivered the issue to former President of Turkey Abdullah Gül due to his close relations with the king’s family. Head of the Republican People’s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also supported the international signature campaign. We are here to save a person’s life with the pressure of international public opinion and we are fighting.”
Among the attendees of the press conference were AICA Turkey President Evrim Altuğ, Halil İbrahim Özcan on behalf of PEN Turkey, Âba Müslim Çelik on behalf of the Turkish Writers Association, İnan Dağdelen on behalf of Socşak Democracy Foundation, Artists Initiative spokesmen Ataol Behramoğlu and Orhan Aydın and Erhan Yazıcıoğlu on behalf of theater artists. Also many artists and writers including Hayati Asılyazıcı, Bilgesu Erenus, Ekrem Kahraman, Suay Karaman and Denizhan Özer supported the press conference.