My speech at General Assembly in Berlin, November 2017

This is the full video and text of my opening intervention at the General Assembly event in Berlin from November of 2017.

“I am here under protest because I will not contribute to whitewashing this person or the undemocratic government, party, and president that he represents.” Duration: 5mins. Recorded: November, 2017.

Update: There is now a Turkish translation, thanks to

A video of my opening intervention at the General Assembly event in Berlin last year was recently edited and published by the AKP representative whose presence at the event I was criticising. It is being shared on social media by AKP supporters – including the ex-mayor of Ankara with his 4 million+ followers on Twitter, as an attempt to drum up support for Erdoğan and the AKP in the run up to the snap elections on June 24th.

These elections are crucial in that they will decide the fate of democracy in Turkey.

The video being circulated has a Turkish “translation” that states that I support FETÖ – a cultish movement led by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen. FETÖ has become Erdoğan’s convenient bogeyman following the coup attempt. Anyone who disagrees with him or criticises him or his government is a terrorist that supports FETÖ. Needless to say, this is as serious a charge as it is entirely ridiculous and unfounded. For the record, I think Fethullah Gulen is as big a dickhead as Erdoğan. Nevertheless, the accusation alone is enough to get me arrested in Turkey. It is the same justification that has been used to imprison thousands of journalists, lawyers, members of parliament, and teachers. The propaganda edit of my talk released by AKP members is otherwise laughable in its inaccuracy. I’m presented, off the bat, as “a British journalist.” (I am neither British nor a journalist.)

I only just managed to get the full version of my talk from Milo Rau and I am sharing it here, unedited, in its entirety.

If AKP and Erdoğan thought the edited clip their supporters shared held biting criticism of their autocratic Islamist regime, wait till they hear the full thing.

I stand by every word of my speech and I would happily give the same talk again today.

I am releasing both the video and the text here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license ( This means, among other things, that you can share it and translate it without asking for further permission from me as long as you share your translation, etc., under the same license.

If you want to translate the text into Turkish – which would be really useful – or any other language, please feel free to do so and to share your translations publicly. If you want me to add your translation to my post, get in touch via Email or Twitter.

Erdoğan and the AKP used the democratic process in Turkey to get into power and then systematically began to unravel the democratic institutions and rule of law in Turkey. Today, tens of thousands have been purged and hundred of journalists are in prison.

This was my T A M A M (“enough is enough”) speech. Because of it, my family and I have gotten death and rape threats on social media. It’s sad, really. Violence is the last refuge of a defeated ideology. Erdoğan and his far right coalition have nothing but fear and threats to argue their case with. Such is the case with dictatorships. I hope that come June 24th the citizens of Turkey will vote for human rights, democracy, secularism, equality, diversity and hope. It might just be the last chance anyone in Turkey will get to do so for a very long time.

Below is the full text of my talk in the original English. There’s also now a Turkish translation courtesy of


I am here today under protest. Let me explain to you why by quoting from the official description of this event:

We are 60 delegates from across the globe chosen to “give a voice to those who are underrepresented, who are not heard, the global third estate, labor immigrants, cross-border commuters, children, future generations, war victims, textile workers, miners, farmers, economic and climate refugees, the victims of the dawning ecoside, the oceans, the atmosphere, the farm animals, and the trees.”

In other words, we are all here to represent the powerless, the repressed, those who lack a democratic voice and yet yearn for democratic agency.

How beautiful. And mostly true.

If you look at the list of delegates, nearly everyone fits the description. Apart from one. And yet neither he, nor what he represents is labelled differently.

We have a representative here who is not from a minority, marginalised, repressed or progressive group seeking freedom from oppression and a democratic voice but rather the representative of a government, a ruling party, and an autocratic president who have been actively repressing and silencing democratic voices. We have a delegate here today who represents the Turkish government, the ruling AKP, and President Erdoğan. A representative, in other words, of a party and a president that used the democratic process to get into power only to then systemically destroy the very democratic instruments they used to get there. A representative of a regime for whom democracy is just a vote. A regime that rules Turkey today by tyranny of the majority. One that has purged tens of thousands of people – including teachers, lawyers, judges, politicians, and journalists – from their jobs, their livelihoods, and the company of their families. A representative of a government that has more journalists in jail today than any other in the world. Two of our participants have fled its abuses. One, Can Dündar, was sentenced to prison. Why? Because he dared practice journalism. The other, Doğan Akhanlı, an author, was recently detained in Spain. Why? For this thoughts and his words. And he sits here in this room today, across from the representative of his oppressor who is presented to you by this event as a fellow delegate.

I am here under protest because I will not contribute to whitewashing this person or the undemocratic government, party, and president that he represents. We do not stand for the same ideals. Nothing he says to me here will put him into any physical danger and yet every word I utter in his presence against Erdoğan’s regime makes me and possibly even my family less safe. Why must I find myself in this situation? How irresponsible is it to invite him to begin with? Do the organisers take responsibility for the target I paint on my forehead as I stand here, alone, to decry his participation? Is this all just good theatre to you? Will you go home and forget once the applause has faded? Some of us cannot.

I was born to two Turkish parents. I gave up my citizenship because of the government that this person represents. I do not visit the land I was born in today because I know what happens to people in Turkey who openly criticise president Erdogan, his party, and his government. I will not live in fear but neither am I a martyr. Insulting Erdoğan is a crime in Turkey. And he takes all criticism as insult. He takes journalism and democracy as an insult. The presence of his representative here, today, is an insult to democracy.

This person represents intolerance. He represents a president, party, and government that have used the democratic process to destroy democracy in Turkey. He is not an ally. I protest that he is labelled as such. Tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance. We cannot, should not, and must not tolerate ideologies that, when they gain power, destroy tolerance. There is a reason you do not see a German Nazi among the delegates here today. And that’s because you know very well that Hitler and the Nazi party came to power democratically in Germany and then destroyed that democracy. Erdogan and the AKP are, today, doing the same thing in Turkey. There is a reason you do not see a German Nazi among the delegates here today. So my question to you is, why do we see a Turkish one?

Türkçe çevirisi


Bugün gönülsüz olarak burada bulunuyorum. Neden böyle olduğunu bu toplantının resmi tanımından alıntılayarak açıklayayım:

Biz, dünyanın dört bir yanından gelen 60 delege olarak “yeterince temsil edilmeyenlerin, sesi duyulmayanların, küresel üçüncü sınıfın, emek göçmenlerinin, sınır ötesi işçilerinin, çocukların, gelecek nesillerin, savaş mağdurlarının, tekstil emekçilerinin, madencilerin, çiftçilerin, ekonomik ve iklimsel sığınmacıların, yaklaşmakta olan çevre kıyımı kurbanlarının, okyanusların, atmosferin, çiftlik hayvanlarının ve ağaçların sesi olmak üzere seçildik.”

Diğer bir deyişle, biz, hepimiz, güçsüzleri, bastırılmışları, demokratik söz hakkı bulunmamasına karşın demokratik irade için çırpınanları temsil etmek için buradayız.

Ne kadar güzel. Çoğunlukla da doğru.

Delege listesine baktığınızda da neredeyse herkes bu tabire uyuyor. Biri hariç. Fakat ne kendisi, ne de temsil ettiği, burada başka bir şekilde addedilmiş değil.

Şu an, bir azınlıktan olmayan, marjinalize edilmemiş, bastırılmamış veya baskıdan bir çıkış yolu veya demokratik söz hakkı arayan ilerici bir gruptan biri değil, aksine, hususi olarak demokratik söz sahiplerini bastırıp susturmakta olan bir hükümetin, bir partinin ve bir otokratik başkanın temsilcisi bulunuyor. Bugün burada Türk hükümetini, baştaki parti olan AKP’yi, Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan’ı temsil eden bir delege bulunuyor. Diğer bir ifadeyle, tahakkümü elde etmek için demokratik yolları kullanmalarının akabinde, o noktaya erişmelerini sağlayan demokratik araçları sistematik olarak yok eden bir partinin ve başkanın temsilcisi. Demokrasi kendileri için oydan ibaret olan bir rejimin temsilcisi. Çoğunluğun tiranlığıyla Türkiye’yi yöneten bir rejimin. İçlerinde öğretmen, avukat, hakim, politikacı ve gazetecilerin de bulunduğu onbinlerce insanı işlerinden, geçimlerinden ve ailelerinden eden bir rejimin. Dünyadaki herhangi başka bir ülkeden daha fazla gazeteciyi hapse atmış bir hükümetin temsilcisi, bu. Katılımcılarımızdan ikisi çareyi bu kötülükten kaçmakta buldular. Biri, Can Dündar, hapse mahkum edildi. Neden? Çünkü gazetecilik yapmaya kalktı. Diğeri ise Doğan Akhanlı, geçenlerde İspanya’da tutuklanmış bir yazar. Neden? Düşünceleri ve ifadeleri için. Bugün ise kendisi, burada, size bu organizasyon tarafından ortak delege olarak takdim edilmiş olan baskıcısının temsilcisinin tam karşısında oturuyor.

Gönülsüz olarak buradayım çünkü bu kişinin veya temsil ettiği gayridemokratik hükümetin, partinin ve cumhurbaşkanının aklanmasına katkıda bulunmayacağım. Aynı idealleri paylaşmıyoruz. Burada bana söyleyeceği hiç bir şey kendisini herhangi fiziksel bir sıkıntıya sokmayacakken önünde Erdoğan rejimine karşı söyleyeceğim her söz beni ve belki de ailemi tehlikeye atacak. Neden kendimi böyle bir konumda sokuyorum ki? Bir kere bu şahsı davet etmek nasıl bir sorumsuzluk örneğidir? Bu toplantının organizatörleri, burada tek başıma dikilip böylesi bir katılımı şiddetle kınıyorken alnıma çizdiğim hedefin sorumluluğunu alacaklar mı? Bütün derdiniz seyirlik bir tiyatro mu? Alkışların sesi kesildikten sonra evinize gidip olan biten her şeyi unutacak mısınız? Bazılarımız unutamayacak.

Benim ebeveynlerim Türk. Bu şahsın temsil ettiği hükümet yüzünden ise vatandaşlığımdan vazgeçmek zorunda kaldım. Artık doğduğum toprakları ziyaret edemiyorum çünkü alenen Erdoğan, parti veya hükümet eleştirisi yapanların başlarına neler geldiğini biliyorum. Korku içinde yaşamayacağım ama şehit falan da değilim. Türkiye’de Erdoğan’a hakaret etmek suç. Ki bütün eleştirileri hakaret olarak alıyor. Gazeteciliği ve demokrasiyi hakaret olarak alıyor. Bugün, burada temsilcisinin bulunması da bizzat demokrasiye bir hakaret.

Bu şahıs tahammülsüzlüğü temsil ediyor. Demokratik süreçleri Türkiye’deki demokrasiyi paramparça etmek için kullanmış bir cumhurbaşkanını, partiyi ve hükümeti temsil ediyor. Hayır, o bir müttefik değil. Böyle addedilmesini protesto ediyorum. Tahammül, tahammülsüzlüğe tahammül edemez. Gücü ellerine geçirince hoşgörüyü ortadan kaldıran ideolojileri hoşgöremeyiz, hoşgörmemeliyiz. Bugün şurada bir Alman Nazisi görmemenizin bir sebebi var. Siz de biliyorsunuz ki Hitler ve Nazi partisi de Almanya’da iktidara demokratik yollarla geldiler ve sonrasında demokrasiyi yok ettiler. İşte onun aynısını Erdoğan ve AKP, bugün itibariyle Türkiye’de yapmakta. Delegelerin arasında bir Alman Nazisi görmemenizin bir sebebi var. Sorum da şu o zaman, neden Türk olanı burada?