A Defense

Here is the defense (savunma) of Ayşe Berkman before the 36th Heavy Penalty Court (Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi) of Istanbul, January 10, 2019, against the charge of making propaganda for a terrorist organization (terör örgütü propagandası yapmak).

Crowd of mostly smiling people outside a courtroom

The crowd from the courtroom when the session was over.
From a tweet of the Peace Academics

The defense is given in two forms:

  • Original Turkish with parallel English translation;
  • in translation only.

The English translation is by the defendant and David Pierce, the latter being the owner of this blog. Relevant articles of the blog include

  • An Indictment,” analyzing (with some links) the iddianame to which the defense below is an answer;
  • Academic Freedom,” a statement such as every academic ought to be prepared to make;
  • Antitheses,” a philosophical investigation of the title concept, of which freedom and responsibility compose an instance;
  • additional essays falling under the category of freedom.

In the courtroom in Çağlayan (conveniently located within a half-hour walk of our flat), Ayşe was one of five persons defending themselves against the same charges. The prosecutor read out the same boilerplate response to each defense. The five defendants will return to court on April 2.

Bianet have Ayşe’s statement, as was announced in a tweet; they have also, together with photographs, beyanlar of many of the Barış Akademisyenleri who have been brought to trial. Statements such as Ayşe’s were also live-tweeted by the Peace Academics.

Ayşe poses at the railing above the atrium of the courthouse

After the defense.
From Bianet

Turkish with parallel English

Sayın Başkan ve Sayın Üyeler,

Your honors,

Barış istediğim için, daha fazla insan ölmesin dediğim için karşınızda bulunuyorum. Aralık 2015 ve Ocak 2016’da acı haberler peş peşe geliyordu. Hiç durmayan sivil ölümleri, suya, gıdaya ve sağlığa erişimin engellenmesi, ölülerin buzluklarda saklanması, Miray bebeğin halasının kucağında bir keskin nişancı tarafından öldürülmesi, Taybet Ana’nın cenazesinin yedi gün boyunca açıkta kalması, cenazeye ulaşmaya çalışan yakınlarının vurulması, okuduğum haberlerden bazılarıydı. Ben de her gün aldığım bu haberlerden dolayı derin bir üzüntü duyuyordum ve ne yapacağımı bilemez perişan bir haldeydim. Bu metni internette görünce belki bir faydası olur umuduyla hemen imzaladım. Bunu yaparken kafamda tek bir amaç vardı: daha fazla insanın ölmesini engellemek.

I stand before you, because I asked for peace and said no more people should die. In December of 2015 and January of 2016, the bad news was unceasing. Civilian deaths, one after the other; the blocking of access to water, food, and medical treatment; the storing of dead bodies in home freezers; a sniper’s killing of Baby Miray in the lap of her aunt; the lying in the open for seven days of Mother Taybet’s corpse; the shooting of relations who tried to reach the body: these are some of the stories that I read. Hearing such news daily, I felt deep sadness; I was in a wretched state, not knowing what I could do. Seeing the text of a petition on the internet, I signed it right way, in hopes that it might do something. I had one idea in mind: to keep more people from dying.

Daha önce hem sizin mahkemenizde, hem de diğer ağır ceza mahkemelerinde aynı iddianame ile yargılanan meslektaşlarım 2015’te yaşananları ayrıntılı olarak anlattıkları için, ben tekrar etmeyeceğim. Ancak Birleşmiş Milletler veya Avrupa Konseyi gibi bağımsız kuruluşlar tarafından yayımlanan raporlardan da maalesef o günlerde aldığımız haberlerin doğru olduğunu öğrendik.

In both your courtroom and others, colleagues charged under the same indictment have explained the details of the events of 2015; I am not going to repeat them. However, from reports published by such independent bodies as the United Nations and the Council of Europe, we have learned that the news we heard in those days was unfortunately correct.

Olayların üzerinden 3 yıl geçmiş olmasına rağmen, bu raporları yanlışlayan hiçbir çalışma yapılmadı. Oysa benim Türkiye Cumhuriyeti devletinden bir vatandaş olarak beklentim, bu raporların doğruluğunu veya yanlışlığını ortaya koyması ve doğruysa da hak ihlallerine neden olan kişileri bulup cezalandırmasıdır.

Even though three years have passed, no attempt has been made to contradict the reports. Nonetheless, as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, I expect the truth of those reports to be confirmed or refuted; if confirmed, I expect the persons who caused these violations of rights to be found and punished.


Belki matematikçi olduğum için, belki de matematikte de mantığa yakın bir alanda çalıştığım için iddianameyi okurken en çok dikkatimi çeken, iddianamenin izlediği mantıksal yöntem oldu.

Perhaps because I am a mathematician, or because I work in a part of mathematics that is close to logic, as I was reading the indictment, what most drew my attention was the logical pattern that it followed.

Liseden mezun olduktan sonra, Matematik Bölümü’ne girdim ve o gün bugündür yani 30 yıldır hiçbir zaman matematikten kopmadım. Lisans, yüksek lisans ve doktora derecelerimin hepsini matematikte yaptım. Bence matematiğin en güzel yanı, dayanaksız ifadelere yer olmamasıdır, matematikte her söylediğinizi kanıtlamanız gerekir.

After graduating from high school, I entered a mathematics department, and from that day since, for thirty years, I have never been separated from mathematics. My undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees are all in mathematics. For me the most beautiful aspect of mathematics is that unsupported claims have no place. What you say in mathematics, you have to prove.

Ben bu davalar başlayana kadar, hukukta suçlamaların da aynı matematikteki gibi sağlam kanıtlara veya delillere dayandırılması gerektiğini sanıyordum, çünkü eğer bir suçlama yapmak için delil şart değilse, herkes herkes hakkında istediği suçlamayı yapabilir.

Until I started reading the claims against us, I thought that, just as in mathematics, any legal accusations had to be supported by sound evidence and proof; for if evidence were not a condition for making an accusation, then anybody could accuse anyone of anything.

Bize gelen iddianamede delil yerine dayanağı açıklanmamış birçok kişisel yorum yazılmış. İddianameden birkaç örnek vermek istiyorum. “Bildirinin esas amacının … olduğu anlaşılmış”, “dikkatlice incelendiğinde açıkça görülecektir”, “görünürde yasalara uygun ancak esasta yasalara aykırı bir şekilde”, “görünürde A ama özünde B”, gibi yargılarla sonuca giden bir iddianame ile suçlanıyorum.

In the indictment against us, in place of evidence, there are some unexplained personal interpretations. I want to give a few examples from the indictment. “It is understood that the petition’s real aim was …”; “on careful examination it is clearly seen that …”; “in appearance it is legal, but in reality it is illegal”; “in appearance it is A, but in essence it is B”—with such judgments concludes the indictment whereby I am accused.


İkinci dikkatimi çeken nokta, iddianamenin bir varsayım üzerine kurulmuş olmasıdır. Savcıya göre, devleti eleştirmek terör propagandası yapmakla eşdeğerdir, savcı bunu doğru kabul edip, suçlamalar yapmıştır. Oysa, vatandaşlar, devleti eleştirebilir, yanlış gördüğünde daha iyisi yapılsın diye bu yanlışa dikkat çekebilir. Hatta bunların yapılması gereklidir, ancak bu şekilde daha iyiye daha güzele gidebiliriz. Savcı “eleştiri = terör” varsayımı ile hareket ettiği için bizim terör propagandası yaptığımız sonucuna varmıştır. Oysa, yanlış bir varsayımla başlandığında ve mantık kuralları çerçevesinde ilerlendiğinde, doğru veya yanlış hiç fark etmez, bütün cümlelerin kanıtlanabileceği, matematikçiler ve mantıkçılar tarafından bilinen en temel gerçeklerden birisidir. Hukukçuların da bu kuralı bildiklerini düşünüyorum. Bu nedenle, biz matematikte aksiyom adını verdiğimiz varsayımlarımızı seçerken oldukça dikkatli davranırız, aksi takdirde kurduğumuz aksiyom sistemi çöker, çünkü çelişkiler dahil, her cümlenin kanıtlanabildiği hiçbir işe yaramayan bir sistem haline gelir.

The second point that I notice is that the indictment is built on an assumption. According to the prosecutor, criticizing the state is equivalent to making terror propaganda. Accepting this as correct, the prosecutor makes his accusations. However, citizens can criticize the state, and when they see something wrong, they can draw attention to the wrong, in order to correct it. Doing this is even necessary, if we want to be a better country. By setting out with the assumption that criticism equals terror, the prosecutor arrives at the conclusion that we made propaganda for terror. However, if we start with a false assumption and follow the rules of logic, we can prove any statement, whether true or false: this is one of the basic facts known to mathematicians and logicians. I thought jurists would know this rule too. In mathematics, while choosing our assumptions, which we call axioms, we are very careful, since otherwise our axiomatic system will collapse; it will be useless, if we can prove all statements, including contradictions.

Şimdi terör propagandasına temel oluşturan en büyük suçlamaya gelmek istiyorum: Ben Bese Hozat isimli kişiden talimat almışım ve bu talimat doğrultusunda barış bildirisini imzalamışım. Bu suçlamayı önce bir mantıkçı gözü ile irdelemek istiyorum. Bu suçlama bir varlık cümlesidir, yani bir şeyin (bu örnekte talimat almış olduğumun) varlığını iddia etmektedir ancak ispat verilmemektedir. Zaten ispat verilemez, çünkü ben kimseden talimat almadım, ama bunu bir tarafa bırakalım. İddianameyi hazırlayan savcı burada zaten herhangi bir delil göstermeye çalışmıyor, tek dayanağı bu kişi tarafından açıklama yapıldı, ondan sonra bildiri yayınlandı. Yani A, B’den sonra oldu; demek ki A’yı yapanlar B’yi yapandan talimat aldı.

Now I should like to talk about the strongest basis for the terror propaganda accusation. Supposedly I received an order from someone called Bese Hozat, then behaved accordingly and signed the petition. First of all, I should like to analyze this sentence from the perspective of a logician. This is an existential statement; that is, it asserts that something exists (in this example, the receiving of an order); however, no proof is given. Of course it cannot be proven, because I did not take any orders; but let us leave this aside for the moment. The prosecutor who prepared the indictment does not try to show any evidence here; the only basis for their claim is the observation that this person made a declaration, and our petition followed. In other words, A happened after B, and hence those who did A received their orders from the person who did B.

Sayın heyet, mutlaka sizin de bildiğiniz ünlü bir örnek vardır, hatırlatmama izin verin. “Dondurma satışları arttıktan sonra denizde boğulmalar da arttı” biçiminde. Burdan çıkarılacak mantıksal sonuç, elbette dondurma yemenin denizde boğulmaya neden olduğu değildir. Açıkça yaz gelmiş, havalar ısınmış ve insanlar serinlemek için farklı yöntemler uygulamaktadır. Burda en azından iki olay arasında gerektirme olmasa da yine de bir bağ bulabildik. Savcının kurduğu mantığa göre bu bağ “Dondurma yemek gerektirir boğulmalar” olmalıydı ancak bu örnekte doğru analiz “Yazın gelmesi gerektirir dondurma yemek ve boğulma” ’dır.

Your honors, there is a famous example that I am sure you are aware of, but let me recall it here: “After the ice cream sales increased, the number of drownings in the sea also increased.” The logical conclusion that one can derive from this sentence is of course not that eating ice cream leads to drowning. Obviously, the summer came and people use different methods to cool off. The relation between the two events here is not necessitation. According to the logic used by the prosecutor, the relation should have been “eating ice cream entails drowning”; however, in this example, the correct conclusion is, “summer entails eating ice cream and drowning”.

Çeşitli verilerin taranması ile aralarında herhangi bir gerektirme ilişkisi olmayan olaylar bile birbirini gerektiriyormuş gibi görülebilir. Bu konuda İngilizce’de istatistikçilerin kullandığı güzel bir söz vardır “correlation is not causation” derler, yani “korelasyon gerektirme değildir” ya da daha serbest çeviri ile her ilişki nedensellik ilişkisi değildir.

In fact, by studying various data, events that have nothing in common may seem to entail one another. Statisticians have a nice expression for this, they say “Correlation is not causation.” We can restate it as “not every relation is a relation of necessitation.”

Dolayısı ile bana yöneltimiş olan “talimat alma” suçlamasının dayanağı bir mantıkçının veya bir istatistikçinin kabul edebileceği bir dayanak değildir. Kanıtsızdır, kanıtlanması da mümkün değildir. Herhangi bir delile dayanmayan suçlamaların hukukta bir değerinin olmasına çok şaşırdığımı bir kere daha ifade etmek isterim.

As a result, the basis of the accusation of taking orders is not the kind that a logician or a statistician can accept. It has no proof, and it is impossible to prove anyway. I should like to point out once more that I am surprised that an accusation with no basis has a value in law.


Bu konu ile ilgili olarak söylemek istediğim diğer husus, beni bir şeyin varlığı ile suçlayan iddianameye karşı elbette yapılabilecek en doğru savunma, suçlamanın yanlış olduğunu kanıtlamaktır, bu da suçlamanın değilini kanıtlamaya denktir. Yani benim beraat edebilmem için Bese Hozat isimli kişiden talimat almadığımı kanıtlamam gerekmektedir. Keşke bu matematiksel bir cümle olsaydı, çünkü matematikte bir şeyin olmadığını kanıtlamanın yolları vardır ancak yaşamla, dünyayla veya uzayla ilgili cümlelerde bir şeyin yokluğunu kanıtlamak genellikle mümkün değildir. Bu felsefede bilinen bir husustur ve bunu vurgulayan en güzel örneklerden birini ünlü mantıkçı ve aynı zamanda uluslararası savaş suçları mahkemesini kurmuş olan Bertrand Russell vermiştir. Russell yanlış olmasına rağmen yanlışlığı kanıtlanamayacak cümlelere çarpıcı bir örnek olarak “Dünya ve Mars arasında, eliptik bir yörüngede güneşin etrafında dönen porselen bir çaydanlık vardır.” cümlesini vermiştir. Bu cümle ile benim Bese Hozat’tan talimat almış olduğum cümlesi mantıksal olarak aynı kategoridedir. İşte iddianame beni yüzyıllardır felsefeciler, mantıkçılar ve matematikçiler tarafından çok iyi bilinen bir açmaza bu şekilde düşürmektedir.

Here is another point that I should like to make about this issue. The best defence against an indictment that makes an accusation against me is of course to show that this accusation is false, which is equivalent to proving the negation of the accusation. In other words, to be acquitted, I have to prove that I have not received an order from the person called Bese Hozat. I wish this were a mathematical statement, because in mathematics there are ways to prove non-existence; however, in general, it is impossible to prove a statement of non-existence, if it is about life, earth, or space. This is a well-known fact in philosophy, and one of the best examples was given by the famous logician Bertrand Russell, who happens to be the founder of the International War Crimes Tribunal as well. The striking example given by Russell of a false statement that is impossible to disprove is, “Between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit.” This sentence and the claim that I took an order from Bese Hozat fall into the same logical category. You see how the indictment puts me in an impasse that has been known to philosophers, logicians, and mathematicians for over a century.


İddianame ile ilgili olarak irdelemek istediğim son nokta, iddianamedeki “hiçbir ülkede terör propagandasına izin verilmeyeceği” iddiası. Savcının terör propagandası tanımını devleti eleştirmek olarak alırsak, bunu yanlışlayan birçok örnek vardır. Örneğin, aralarında Jean Paul Sartre ve André Breton’un da olduğu bir grup aydın tarafından, 1960 yılında Fransız ordusunun Cezayir’de yaptığı işkenceleri ve insan hakları ihlallerini kınayan, bu savaşı caniyane ve saçma olarak nitelendiren ve Fransızları orduya itaatsizliğe davet eden 121’ler Manifestosu yayımlanmıştır. Bildiri o zaman Fransa’da büyük tepki çekmiş, gazetelerde basılması yasaklanmış, birkaç imzacı öğretim üyesinin derslerine ara verilmiş ve 121 imzacıdan 29’u hakkında iddianame hazırlanmışsa da, iddianame işleme konmamış, dolayısı ile hiçbir imzacı ceza almamıştır.

The last point that I should like to examine in the indictment is the claim that no country will allow terror propaganda. If we use the prosecutor’s definition of terror propaganda as criticising the state, there are many counterexamples. For instance, in 1960 the “Manifesto of the 121” was announced in France by a group of intellectuals, including Jean Paul Sartre and André Breton, condemning the tortures and human-rights violations committed by the French army in Algeria. They called the war criminal and absurd, and they invited the French people to disobey the army. There was a big reaction to the manifesto in France; its printing in newspapers was banned, and the lectures of a few university professors who signed the petition were suspended. Even though indictments were prepared for 29 signers out of 121, in the end they were not issued; hence, none of the signers were prosecuted.

İkinci örnek, Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nden. Vietnam Savaşı sırasında birçok Amerikan üniversitesinde savaşı protesto eden gösteriler düzenlenmiş ve üniversiteler savaş karşıtlığının merkezi haline gelmiştir. Gösterilerde şiddet kullananlar tutuklanmıştır ancak savaş karşıtı görüşlerini dile getirdiği için hakkında dava açılan bir akademisyen olmamıştır. Çarpıcı bir örnek olarak, Harvard Üniversitesi Senatosu yayımladığı bildiride “barışın tesisi için ABD askeri birliklerinin derhal Vietnam’ı terk ederek ülkeye dönmelerini” istemiştir.

My second example is from the United States. During the Vietnam War, American universities became the centers of anti-war movements, and many protests took place. Protestors who were violent in the events were arrested; however, not a single academic was prosecuted for making anti-war statements. One of the striking examples from those days is the declaration made by the Harvard University Senate saying, “the most reasonable plan for peace is the prompt, rapid, and complete withdrawal of all US forces. We support a united and sustained national effort to bring our troops home.”

Vereceğim son örnek İsrail’den. Altı ay kadar önce İsrail Ulus Devlet Yasası’nın kabulünün ardından, birçok aydın, yazar, sanatçı ve akademisyen yasayı protesto eden çeşitli bildiriler yayınlamıştır. Bunlardan bir tanesi, devletlerinin Filistinlilere karşı etnik temizlik yaptığını, köyleri yakıp yıktığını, İsrail mahkemelerinin ise bu yapılanları yasal bulduğunu söyleyerek, çok geç olmadan uluslararası kuruluşları yardıma çağırmıştır. İsrail’de de hiçbir imzacıya dava açılmamıştır.

My last example is from Israel. After the acceptance of the Israeli Nation-State Law about six months ago, many intellectuals, writers, artists, and academics published various declarations protesting the law. In one of these declarations, signers said that their state is doing ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, and Israeli courts are legitimizing the destruction of entire villages; hence they called for external pressure before it is too late. No signer was prosecuted in Israel either.

Önemli olaylar karşısında, siyasetçilerle aydınların fikir ayrılığına düşmesi ve aydınların sorumluluk alarak, siyasetçileri uyarması tarihte sıklıkla rastlanan bir durumdur. Burada yalnızca üç örneğe değinebildim.

During important events, it frequently happens that politicians and intellectuals have disagreements, and intellectuals feel responsible and warn the politicians. Here, I give only three examples.


Sayın Heyet, 20 yıldır üniversite öğrencilerine matematik dersleri veriyorum. Sanırım bu süre içerisinde, toplam 3000 civarında öğrenci benden ders almıştır. Verdiğim derslerde ya da özel çalışmalarımızda, öğrencilerime elbette dersin ya da çalışmanın konusu ile ilgili teoremleri, bunların kanıtlarını veya problem çözme yöntemleri gibi matematiğin teknik taraflarını anlattım, ama aynı zamanda onlara özelde matematik, genelde de bilim kültürünü aşılamaya çalıştım. Bir bilim insanının kavramlara nasıl yaklaştığını, problemleri nasıl analiz ettiğini, bazen sorunun zorluğu karşısında herkesin bocalayabileceğini ama yine de sorunun peşini bırakmaması gerektiğini hem bende gözlemlesinler hem de yaşayarak öğrensinler istedim.

Your honors, I have been teaching mathematics to university students for twenty years. In this period, I suppose about three thousand students have taken courses from me. In lectures and in office hours, of course I explain the technical side of mathematics, such as the theorems of our topic, their proofs, and the methods of solving problems; but at the same time, I try to engender the culture of mathematics in particular and science in general. I want students both to observe in me, and to experience for themselves, how a scientist approaches concepts, analyzes problems, and must not break off the pursuit of a problem, though its difficulty may leave everybody not knowing which way to go.

Ancak onlara vermeye çalıştığım, üstelik de tüm bunlardan daha fazla önem verdiğim bir konu daha vardı. O da kısaca eleştirel yaklaşım olarak nitelendirebileceğim alışkanlığı edinmelerini istedim. Bu elbette yalnızca bilim insanlarında olması gereken bir özellik değil, her bireyde olmalıdır. Eleştirel yaklaşım ile kastettiğim, öncelikle kişinin kendi aklına güvenmesi, aklını bir otoritenin emrine sunmak yerine, düşünmeye üşenmemesi ve gördüğü, duyduğu bilgileri fikirleri sorgulayarak kendi akıl süzgecinden geçirdikten sonra onları kabul etmesi veya uygulamaya koymasıdır. Bu tip bir yaklaşım, herhangi bir kişiye, otoriteye, hocaya veya ders kitabına sorgulamadan inanmamayı gerektirir. Kişiler yanılabilir, kitaplar hatalı bilgi içerebilir, belli koşullarda doğru olan bir bilgi, koşullar değişince yanlış olabilir. Bu farklılıkları anlayabilmek ve doğruyu bulabilmek için elimizde kendi aklımızdan başka kullanabileceğimiz bir ölçü yoktur.

But there is one more thing that I try to teach students, something to which I give more importance than all that I have said. I want them to make a habit of what I can call, briefly, the critical approach. This is something needed not only by scientists, but by everybody. What I mean by the critical approach is, first of all, trusting one’s own mind, instead of giving it over to the command of an authority; not giving up on thinking, and, by investigating the information and ideas that one sees and hears, accepting them or putting them to work only after passing them through the filter of one’s own mind. In this approach, one must believe nobody, no authority, no teacher, no textbook, without investigation. People can be mistaken, books can contain misinformation, something correct under certain conditions can be wrong otherwise. To understand the differences and find the truth, there is no measure we can use, but our own mind.

Ancak öğrenciye ya da herhangi bir kimseye, “her şeye eleştirel yaklaşın”, “aklınızı kullanın” gibi sözler söyleyerek bu alışkanlığı kazandırmamız mümkün değildir. Ne şanslıyız ki, matematik anlatırken sözünü ettiğim noktaları vurgulamak ve uygulamak için karşımıza birçok fırsat çıkar.

However, we cannot habituate our students, just by saying words like “Approach everything critically,” or “Use your mind.” Fortunately, in explaining mathematics, quite a few opportunities arise to apply and emphasize the points that I have made.

Matematikte yanlış bir cümleyi ya da kanıtı kimse kimseye zorla kabul ettiremez. “Talimatla teoremi kabul etmek” diye bir şey yoktur. Her iddianızı kanıtlamanız gerekir. Aslında kanıtlamak da yetmez, karşınızdakinin de ikna olması gerekir. İkna olmamışsa, karşınızdaki size anlamadığı yeri sorar, orayı açıklamanız gerekir. Bu sefer yeni bir soru gelebilir, onu da açıklamakla yükümlüsünüz. Bu nedenle, matematikte kavga edemezseniz, varsa hatayı söylersiniz, karşınızdaki düzeltebilirse düzletir, düzeltemezse iddiasını geri çeker, ya da sizin hata dediğiniz şey hata değildir, bu sefer de siz hatalı olduğunuzu kabul edersiniz. Bu tartışmalar elbette ancak ifade özgürlüğünün olduğu bir ortamda yapılabilir. İdeal bir üniversitede, birinci sınıf öğrencisi, bir profesör’ün hata yaptığını fark ettiğinde bunu rahatlıkla ifade edebilir; herkes herkesle tartışabilir. Üniversite herkesin doğru bilgiyi aradığı yerdir.

In mathematics, nobody can make anybody accept a false statement or proof. There is nothing like “command acceptance of a theorem.” We have to prove our claims. Actually, proving them is not enough, but other persons have to be convinced. If they are not convinced, they ask about the points they do not understand, and you have to explain them. This time new questions may arise, and you have the burden of answering them. For this reason, you cannot fight in mathematics: if you see an error, you say so; if the other person can correct it, they do so; if they cannot, they withdraw their claim; or perhaps what you called a mistake was not, and then you accept that you were in error. Of course, such a discussion can happen only in an environment where there is freedom of expression. In the ideal university, if even a first-year student notices that a professor is in error, they can comfortably say so; anybody can dispute with anybody. The university is where everybody is looking for the truth.

Akıl, bilimsel tutum, dürüstlük, düşünce ve ifade özgürlüğü yalnızca matematiğin değil akademinin olmazsa olmazlarıdır. Yeni fikirler ancak özgür beyinlerden, özgür ortamlarda doğar. Ülke olarak daha ileri gitmek istiyorsak, her alanda düşünce ve ifade özgürlüğünü ödünsüz savunmalıyız.

Reason, scientific conduct, honesty, freedom of thought and expression: they are the sine qua non, not only of mathematics, but of the whole of academia. New ideas are born only in free minds, in a free environment. If we want to advance as a country, we must defend freedom of thought and expression everywhere, without compromise.


Sonuç olarak, aklı ve akılcı düşünceyi yaşamının merkezine koymuş biri olarak, “talimatla imza attığım” suçlamasını şahsıma yapılmış bir aşağılama ve hakaret olarak görüyorum. Bu hakareti reddediyorum.

To sum up my words, I shall say that I consider this accusation of “signing on orders” as the biggest denigration and insult that can be made to a person who puts reason and rational thought at the center of her life. I reject this insult.

Yalnızca bir bilim insanına ya da bir akademisyene değil, reşit olan herhangi bir bireye talimat aldığını söylemek bence en büyük hakarettir. Elbette başkalarından fikir ve görüş alınabilir ama kişi son kararını kendi akıl ve vicdan süzgecinden geçirdikten sonra vermelidir. Özellikle de topluma karşı sorumluluğu olan meslek gruplarına mensup kişiler: örneğin adaletin tesisini sağlayan siz hakimler, savcılar, avukatlar; sağlığımızı emanet ettiğimiz doktorlar, gelecek kuşakları yetiştiren öğretmenler ve daha niceleri.

Not only to a scientist or an academic, but to any adult, claiming that they are taking orders is the biggest insult. Of course, people can ask others’ opinions and thoughts, but they should make their decisions after filtering through their own minds and consciences—especially people who are responsible to society through their professions, such as judges, prosecutors, and lawyers like you, who administer justice; doctors, in whose hands we put our lives; teachers, who raise the next generations; and many others.

Doğrudan öğrencisi olmasam da, öğrencilerinin ve meslektaşlarının öğrencisi olduğum, Türkiye’deki akademik dünyaya hem doğrudan hem de dolaylı olarak büyük katkılar yapmış Cahit Arf Hocamız’ın adını burada saygı ve sevgi ile anmak isterim. Cahit Arf, 70’li yılların sonunda ODTÜ’de Dekanlık yaparken Genelkurmay Başkanı’nın talimatlarını kabul etmemiş ve hem üniversiteyi hem de öğrencilerini baskılara karşı korumuş birisidir.

At this point, with love and respect, I should like to mention our teacher Cahit Arf, who contributed a lot to the academic world of Turkey both directly and indirectly. Even though I was not his student, I was a student of his students and colleagues. In the late 1970s, when Cahit Arf was a dean at METU, he did not agree to follow the orders of the Chief of the General Staff, and he protected the university and his students against pressures.

Sözlerime son vermeden önce, yeniden bildiriye dönmek istiyorum. Bildiride barış müzakerelerine dönme çağrısı yapılmaktadır. Terör propagandası yapan bir metin barış çağrısı yapar mı, bunun yanıtını sizin takdirinize bırakıyorum. Ayrıca bildiride müzakereler başladığında, görüşmelerde gönüllü gözlemci olarak yer almak istediğimiz yazılıdır. Dolayısı ile barışın yeniden tesisinde elimizden gelen katkıyı sunmak istediğimiz açıkça ortadayken terörizm propagandası ile suçlanmamız da ayrı bir ironidir. Bildiri eğer bir şeyin propagandasını yapıyorsa o da barışın propagandasıdır, asla ve asla terörün değil. Hakaret içermemektedir, hepimiz için gerekli olan ve hepimizin sahip çıkması gereken ifade özgürlüğü sınırları içindedir. Vatandaş sorumluluğu ile imzalanmıştır.

Before I finish my statement, I should like to say a few more words about our petition. In the petition we make a call to resume the peace negotiations. Does a text which makes terrorism propaganda also make a call for peace? I leave it to you to decide. Also we mentioned in the petition that if the peace negotiations start, then we will volunteer to be observers in the process. Hence it is another irony that while we are openly declaring that we should like to give as much support as we can for achieving peace again, we are being accused of making propaganda for terrorism. If the petition is making propaganda of something, then it is for peace; never ever for terrorism. It contains no insults, and it is within the bounds of freedom of speech, which we all need and should all defend. I signed the petition as a responsible citizen.

Bu nedenlerle beraatimi talep ediyorum.

For all these reasons, I ask for my acquittal.

10 Ocak 2019

January 10, 2019

English only

Your honors,

I stand before you, because I asked for peace and said no more people should die. In December of 2015 and January of 2016, the bad news was unceasing. Civilian deaths, one after the other; the blocking of access to water, food, and medical treatment; the storing of dead bodies in home freezers; a sniper’s killing of Baby Miray in the lap of her aunt; the lying in the open for seven days of Mother Taybet’s corpse; the shooting of relations who tried to reach the body: these are some of the stories that I read. Hearing such news daily, I felt deep sadness; I was in a wretched state, not knowing what I could do. Seeing the text of a petition on the internet, I signed it right way, in hopes that it might do something. I had one idea in mind: to keep more people from dying.

In both your courtroom and others, colleagues charged under the same indictment have explained the details of the events of 2015; I am not going to repeat them. However, from reports published by such independent bodies as the United Nations and the Council of Europe, we have learned that the news we heard in those days was unfortunately correct.

Even though three years have passed, no attempt has been made to contradict the reports. Nonetheless, as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, I expect the truth of those reports to be confirmed or refuted; if confirmed, I expect the persons who caused these violations of rights to be found and punished.


Perhaps because I am a mathematician, or because I work in a part of mathematics that is close to logic, as I was reading the indictment, what most drew my attention was the logical pattern that it followed.

After graduating from high school, I entered a mathematics department, and from that day since, for thirty years, I have never been separated from mathematics. My undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees are all in mathematics. For me the most beautiful aspect of mathematics is that unsupported claims have no place. What you say in mathematics, you have to prove.

Until I started reading the claims against us, I thought that, just as in mathematics, any legal accusations had to be supported by sound evidence and proof; for if evidence were not a condition for making an accusation, then anybody could accuse anyone of anything.

In the indictment against us, in place of evidence, there are some unexplained personal interpretations. I want to give a few examples from the indictment. “It is understood that the petition’s real aim was …”; “on careful examination it is clearly seen that …”; “in appearance it is legal, but in reality it is illegal”; “in appearance it is A, but in essence it is B”—with such judgments concludes the indictment whereby I am accused.


The second point that I notice is that the indictment is built on an assumption. According to the prosecutor, criticizing the state is equivalent to making terror propaganda. Accepting this as correct, the prosecutor makes his accusations. However, citizens can criticize the state, and when they see something wrong, they can draw attention to the wrong, in order to correct it. Doing this is even necessary, if we want to be a better country. By setting out with the assumption that criticism equals terror, the prosecutor arrives at the conclusion that we made propaganda for terror. However, if we start with a false assumption and follow the rules of logic, we can prove any statement, whether true or false: this is one of the basic facts known to mathematicians and logicians. I thought jurists would know this rule too. In mathematics, while choosing our assumptions, which we call axioms, we are very careful, since otherwise our axiomatic system will collapse; it will be useless, if we can prove all statements, including contradictions.

Now I should like to talk about the strongest basis for the terror propaganda accusation. Supposedly I received an order from someone called Bese Hozat, then behaved accordingly and signed the petition. First of all, I should like to analyze this sentence from the perspective of a logician. This is an existential statement; that is, it asserts that something exists (in this example, the receiving of an order); however, no proof is given. Of course it cannot be proven, because I did not take any orders; but let us leave this aside for the moment. The prosecutor who prepared the indictment does not try to show any evidence here; the only basis for their claim is the observation that this person made a declaration, and our petition followed. In other words, A happened after B, and hence those who did A received their orders from the person who did B.

Your honors, there is a famous example that I am sure you are aware of, but let me recall it here: “After the ice cream sales increased, the number of drownings in the sea also increased.” The logical conclusion that one can derive from this sentence is of course not that eating ice cream leads to drowning. Obviously, the summer came and people use different methods to cool off. The relation between the two events here is not necessitation. According to the logic used by the prosecutor, the relation should have been “eating ice cream entails drowning”; however, in this example, the correct conclusion is, “summer entails eating ice cream and drowning”.

In fact, by studying various data, events that have nothing in common may seem to entail one another. Statisticians have a nice expression for this, they say “Correlation is not causation.” We can restate it as “not every relation is a relation of necessitation.”

As a result, the basis of the accusation of taking orders is not the kind that a logician or a statistician can accept. It has no proof, and it is impossible to prove anyway. I should like to point out once more that I am surprised that an accusation with no basis has a value in law.


Here is another point that I should like to make about this issue. The best defence against an indictment that makes an accusation against me is of course to show that this accusation is false, which is equivalent to proving the negation of the accusation. In other words, to be acquitted, I have to prove that I have not received an order from the person called Bese Hozat. I wish this were a mathematical statement, because in mathematics there are ways to prove non-existence; however, in general, it is impossible to prove a statement of non-existence, if it is about life, earth, or space. This is a well-known fact in philosophy, and one of the best examples was given by the famous logician Bertrand Russell, who happens to be the founder of the International War Crimes Tribunal as well. The striking example given by Russell of a false statement that is impossible to disprove is, “Between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit.” This sentence and the claim that I took an order from Bese Hozat fall into the same logical category. You see how the indictment puts me in an impasse that has been known to philosophers, logicians, and mathematicians for over a century.


The last point that I should like to examine in the indictment is the claim that no country will allow terror propaganda. If we use the prosecutor’s definition of terror propaganda as criticising the state, there are many counterexamples. For instance, in 1960 the “Manifesto of the 121” was announced in France by a group of intellectuals, including Jean Paul Sartre and André Breton, condemning the tortures and human-rights violations committed by the French army in Algeria. They called the war criminal and absurd, and they invited the French people to disobey the army. There was a big reaction to the manifesto in France; its printing in newspapers was banned, and the lectures of a few university professors who signed the petition were suspended. Even though indictments were prepared for 29 signers out of 121, in the end they were not issued; hence, none of the signers were prosecuted.

My second example is from the United States. During the Vietnam War, American universities became the centers of anti-war movements, and many protests took place. Protestors who were violent in the events were arrested; however, not a single academic was prosecuted for making anti-war statements. One of the striking examples from those days is the declaration made by the Harvard University Senate saying, “the most reasonable plan for peace is the prompt, rapid, and complete withdrawal of all US forces. We support a united and sustained national effort to bring our troops home.”

My last example is from Israel. After the acceptance of the Israeli Nation-State Law about six months ago, many intellectuals, writers, artists, and academics published various declarations protesting the law. In one of these declarations, signers said that their state is doing ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, and Israeli courts are legitimizing the destruction of entire villages; hence they called for external pressure before it is too late. No signer was prosecuted in Israel either.

During important events, it frequently happens that politicians and intellectuals have disagreements, and intellectuals feel responsible and warn the politicians. Here, I give only three examples.


Your honors, I have been teaching mathematics to university students for twenty years. In this period, I suppose about three thousand students have taken courses from me. In lectures and in office hours, of course I explain the technical side of mathematics, such as the theorems of our topic, their proofs, and the methods of solving problems; but at the same time, I try to engender the culture of mathematics in particular and science in general. I want students both to observe in me, and to experience for themselves, how a scientist approaches concepts, analyzes problems, and must not break off the pursuit of a problem, though its difficulty may leave everybody not knowing which way to go.

But there is one more thing that I try to teach students, something to which I give more importance than all that I have said. I want them to make a habit of what I can call, briefly, the critical approach. This is something needed not only by scientists, but by everybody. What I mean by the critical approach is, first of all, trusting one’s own mind, instead of giving it over to the command of an authority; not giving up on thinking, and, by investigating the information and ideas that one sees and hears, accepting them or putting them to work only after passing them through the filter of one’s own mind. In this approach, one must believe nobody, no authority, no teacher, no textbook, without investigation. People can be mistaken, books can contain misinformation, something correct under certain conditions can be wrong otherwise. To understand the differences and find the truth, there is no measure we can use, but our own mind.

However, we cannot habituate our students, just by saying words like “Approach everything critically,” or “Use your mind.” Fortunately, in explaining mathematics, quite a few opportunities arise to apply and emphasize the points that I have made.

In mathematics, nobody can make anybody accept a false statement or proof. There is nothing like “command acceptance of a theorem.” We have to prove our claims. Actually, proving them is not enough, but other persons have to be convinced. If they are not convinced, they ask about the points they do not understand, and you have to explain them. This time new questions may arise, and you have the burden of answering them. For this reason, you cannot fight in mathematics: if you see an error, you say so; if the other person can correct it, they do so; if they cannot, they withdraw their claim; or perhaps what you called a mistake was not, and then you accept that you were in error. Of course, such a discussion can happen only in an environment where there is freedom of expression. In the ideal university, if even a first-year student notices that a professor is in error, they can comfortably say so; anybody can dispute with anybody. The university is where everybody is looking for the truth.

Reason, scientific conduct, honesty, freedom of thought and expression: they are the sine qua non, not only of mathematics, but of the whole of academia. New ideas are born only in free minds, in a free environment. If we want to advance as a country, we must defend freedom of thought and expression everywhere, without compromise.


To sum up my words, I shall say that I consider this accusation of “signing on orders” as the biggest denigration and insult that can be made to a person who puts reason and rational thought at the center of her life. I reject this insult.

Not only to a scientist or an academic, but to any adult, claiming that they are taking orders is the biggest insult. Of course, people can ask others’ opinions and thoughts, but they should make their decisions after filtering through their own minds and consciences—especially people who are responsible to society through their professions, such as judges, prosecutors, and lawyers like you, who administer justice; doctors, in whose hands we put our lives; teachers, who raise the next generations; and many others.

At this point, with love and respect, I should like to mention our teacher Cahit Arf, who contributed a lot to the academic world of Turkey both directly and indirectly. Even though I was not his student, I was a student of his students and colleagues. In the late 1970s, when Cahit Arf was a dean at METU, he did not agree to follow the orders of the Chief of the General Staff, and he protected the university and his students against pressures.

Before I finish my statement, I should like to say a few more words about our petition. In the petition we make a call to resume the peace negotiations. Does a text which makes terrorism propaganda also make a call for peace? I leave it to you to decide. Also we mentioned in the petition that if the peace negotiations start, then we will volunteer to be observers in the process. Hence it is another irony that while we are openly declaring that we should like to give as much support as we can for achieving peace again, we are being accused of making propaganda for terrorism. If the petition is making propaganda of something, then it is for peace; never ever for terrorism. It contains no insults, and it is within the bounds of freedom of speech, which we all need and should all defend. I signed the petition as a responsible citizen.

For all these reasons, I ask for my acquittal.

January 10, 2019

2 Comments

  1. Robert DiSilverio
    Posted January 13, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well said, Prof. Berkman!

  2. Reinhard Huss
    Posted January 14, 2019 at 12:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    You present a clear and logical defence. I hope that the prosecutor cannot ignore logic!

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