By Hambersom Aghbashian
Doğan Özgüden (born 1936, Kalecik, Ankara) is a Turkish journalist and publisher. He completed his high school education in Ankara and got a license diploma from the Higher School of Economic and Commercial Sciences (YETO) in Izmir. After 1971 military coup in Turkey, he left the country and based in Belgium since 1974. Özgüden worked at a variety of Turkish newspapers from 1952 to 1964, before becoming the editor-in-chief of Turkish daily newspaper Akşam (1964 – 1966). He was elected to the Workers Party of Turkey’s (TIP), central committee in 1964. Together with Inci Tugsavul, Özgüden co-founded the Ant Publishing House in 1967, publishing the weekly Ant as well as a variety of books. After the banning of Ant by the junta of the 1971 military coup, Özgüden and Tugsavul established Info-Türk in Brussels in 1974. The founders were charged with over 50 opinion-related crimes for articles written or published in Ant, and were stripped of their Turkish nationality in 1984. In 2006 the Human Rights Association of Turkey awarded the 2006 Ayse Zarakolu Freedom of Thought Prize to Info-Türk co-founders Özgüden and Tugsavul. Doğan Özgüden is the author of many books and studies, mainly On Fascism (1965, Istanbul), On Capitalism (1966, Istanbul), File on Turkey (1972, France), Turkey, Fascism and Resistance (1973), Mass media and Turkish Migrants (1983), The Portrait of Turkish Migration (1984), Black Book on the Militarist “Democracy” in Turkey (1986 – 2010), Extreme Right in Turkey (1988), Stateless Journalist I (2010), Stateless Journalist II (2011) and others.
The Istanbul Section of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) has decided to attribute the Ayse Zarakolu Price for Freedom of Thought (2006) to Info-Turk editors Özgüden and Tugsavul along with Kisanak, Yilmaz and Karaca. The price award ceremony took place in Istanbul on the International Women Day. Since Özgüden and Tugsavul cannot enter their country because of legal proceedings, publisher and human rights defender Ragip Zarakolu came to Brussels on February 24, 2006, and announced the IHD’s decision at the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)* General Meeting held at the International Press Center. Later on, he presented Özgüden and Tugsavul the price. In the award announcement it was mentioned, “With the Info-Turk Agency that they founded in exile, they put in question many subjects considered taboos in Turkey. They took a clear position against anti-Semitism and opened debate of the question of Armenian Genocide. Still there is always an arrest warrant against Dogan Özgüden under Article 301 for having criticized putschist generals.” (1)
“I Apologize” (“Özür Diliyorum”) is an online campaign launched in December 2008 in Turkey by numerous journalists, politicians, and professors, calling for a collective apology for the Armenian Genocide, which I Apologize calls “the Great Catastrophe that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915.” The campaign was launched by Prof. Ahmet Insel, politician Baskin Oran, Dr. Cengiz Aktar, and journalist Ali Bayramoğlu. The campaign emphasizes regret on behalf of Turkey that Armenian requests for recognition of the 1915 genocide has been actively suppressed within Turkey. The campaign was signed by 5,000 people within the first 24 hours, and had collected over 30,000 signatories by January 2009. The campaign created widespread outrage in Turkish society. Doğan Özgüden was one of the signees.
According to [email protected], on May 13, 2015, a group of Armenian, Kurdish, Syriac, Alevi, Assyrian, Yezidi, and Turkish organizations in Brussels, Belgium, released an appeal titled “No to the lynching campaign against journalist Dogan Özgüden”, where it mentioned that “Journalist Dogan Özgüden, humanist and defender of human and minority rights, has been target of a new lynching campaign launched by Turkish negationists and ultranationalists. On the occasion of the centenary commemorations of the 1915 Genocide, these circles develop a campaign of slander and aggression (as happened in 2008) whose target is again Dogan Özgüden. The democratic public opinion knows very well Mr. Özgüden, his work as a journalist for 60 years, his uncompromising struggle against injustice, his resolute stand against the powers in Turkey, his worthy attitude on the reality of the genocide of 1915, and is very well aware of the fact that this attitude makes him a prime target of the Turkish state and the negationists and nationalist circles.” At the end the signatories stated “we tell them that Dogan is not alone. We the signatories of this appeal give him all our support and call the Belgian authorities to a greatest vigilance against these threats.” (2)
* IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, is a global network of over 100 independent non-governmental organizations working at the local, national, regional and international level to defend and promote freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.
IFEX was founded in 1992 in Montreal, Canada, by a group of organizations responding to free expression violations around the world.