Erol Özkoray is a well known advocate of democracy in Turkey. Born in 1953 in Istanbul, he is a bilingual (French and Turkish) political writer. He has worked as coorespondent at several large international media houses like the Hurriyet and Agence France Presse in Istanbul and Ankara and published a democracy and political culture magazine Idea Politika between 1998-2002. It was the first digital magazine that was closed down based on the press laws with the order of the Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ
In his pursuit for the democratization and EU membership of Turkey, his opposing views against the Government and the role of the military in politics caused him to be persecuted with total 18 suits since the year 2000. This is a record number of law suits against an intellectual in Turkey.
Upon his arrival in Sweden Özkoray said:
”As an intellectual, writer and publisher, I don’t accept any limits on the freedom of expression. My writings should be protected by the constitution that guarantees the freedom of expression and article 90, that accepts the supremacy of international laws over the restrictive laws of the penal code as the basis in expressing my opinion.”
“Freedom of expression is vital for a democracy, therefore the sentence of prison for writing and publishing a book is against democracy and shows the dangerous side of the Islamic government. If we do not stand against this with Gezi spirit, the country will yield to Islamic totalitarianism. In order to sustain the democratic campaign against political Islam that opened war against its citizens, the book ‘Gezi Phenomenon’ (ed.: his book published in 2013) is one of the tools. Serious political, intellectual and media support is needed for this.”
Erol left his country for the lack of freedom of expression. He plans to work for the better understanding of the nature of Turkish regime by the European Union in general and Sweden in particular by explaining that Islamic government is a great threat for the secular Turkey.
“Sweden is a very important country for this purpose because of its pioneering role in democracy, human rights and minority rights concerning Turkey. Sweden proved this role by its approach in the Kurdish issue,“ says Erol.
Özkoray will be working from The Free Speech House in Växjö. He will contribute to Gotheburg Bookfair this year in an event about nationalism and democracy, organized by the University of Linnè and the Free Speech House.
“I am proud that Växjö is one of few municipalities in this country who has a programme for persecuted writers” says Chairman of the Municipal Council of Växjö, Bo Frank. He is accompanied by Eva Johansen of the Culture and Leisure Services in Växjö, who welcomes Erol Özkoray to the city.