Prepare for some serious coffee to be spilled because Turkish activist Barbaros Şansal has a book deal. Back in January, Şansal was beaten up by an angry mob who gathered on an Istanbul airport tarmac and then was put behind bars by an İstanbul court due to a video he posted on New Year’s Eve. Now, Şansal has put all of the dark experiences of those days into a book with several other yet-unheard anecdotes from his career.
The book, titled “Linç” (Lynch), is essentially a compendium of incidents he experienced upon his forceful deportation from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), including the time he had spent in İstanbul’s infamous Silivri Prison, where around 140 writers and journalists are behind bars, and the lynching attempt by a group of Turkish Airlines workers on an Istanbul airport tarmac.
The story actually started after Şansal posted a Twitter video on New Year’s Day, in which he used slang while criticizing Turks for attending New Year’s Eve celebrations despite the existence of major problems in Turkey including mass detentions, corruption, rape, bribery and bigotry.
Upon the release of the video, the designer was deported by KKTC authorities to Turkey on the night of Jan. 1. When he arrived at İstanbul Atatürk Airport, a large group of protesters, who were later revealed to be employees of Turkish Ground Services (TGS) – a subsidiary of the state-run Turkish Airlines – attacked him on the tarmac until he was put into a police car. The following day, Şansal was arrested by an İstanbul court and put in pretrial detention for “insulting the Turkish nation.”
After spending some two months in prison, Şansal was released pending trial by the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court in March. A month later, he was handed down a suspended prison sentence of six months, 20 days due to the video message he had posted.
In the video he shared, Şansal says he will drink a lot in Lefkoşa and later move to Nicosia to drink more, after enumerating harsh criticisms about corruption, rape, bribery and bigotry in Turkey. He finishes his video with the words: “Drown in your shit, Turkey.”
The suspended sentence was given to the designer in line with Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation or Turkish government institutions.
The code initially came into force on June 1, 2005 and made it a crime to “insult Turkishness.” On April 30, 2008, the code was amended to change “Turkishness” into “the Turkish nation.”
Since 2005, charges have been brought in more than 65 cases, some of which are high profile.