Theater of Cruelty

Before you know it, you're a terrorist

TERRORIST LIST / An otherwise uneventful late summer day I received a message in my inbox that I was listed on a Turkish list of alleged terrorists.


The list was compiled by the Ankara-based think tank SETA – the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research – which has close ties to the Turkish government and Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party. I initially thought it was a bad joke.

The message was accompanied by a link, and when I followed it, I came up with a list of a total of 120 known and unknown Norwegian nationals – many of them people I in other contexts would not like to be mentioned together – as on last spring had signed a petition against Turkey's invasion of Afrin, a Kurdish area in Syria: Jan Bojer Vindheim, Erling Folkvord, Jan Erik Vold, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Asbjørn Øveraas, Fartein Horgar, Erling Borgen, Torstein Bugge Høverstad…

It took some time for me to get serious.

We have all heard of paternal lawsuits in which teachers, academics, writers and journalists have been sentenced to draconian prison sentences for showing cautious sympathy with the Kurdish population, or some interest in alternative education – both considered more than sufficient evidence of terrorist intentions and inclinations. But it is in Turkey.

So we now see that the flourishing paranoia of the Turkish government in pursuit of regime opponents and other "dangerous people" has also reached Norway.

"Extremely dangerous"

Nerina Weiss at the FAFO research foundation told ABC News on August 21 that "this report is extremely dangerous for those named". Jan Bojer Vindheim believes that people on this list run the risk of being imprisoned if they travel to or stop in Turkey.

It is completely unacceptable to bodies associated with others
country's governments, survey and register Norwegian citizens.

Now, of course, it is a narrow matter to avoid traveling to Turkey, even for me who has a beating heart for Istanbul. But given that Turkey is a member of NATO, and that within NATO, of course, there is an extensive exchange of information related to "terrorism", what at first seemed like a joke, begins to appear far more serious. Will we who are on this list, and others on other lists drawn up by the famous think tank SETA, be able to risk surveillance, sanctions or simply be denied entry to other NATO countries if we try? Or am I overly paranoid when I ask such a question?

In any case, it is completely unacceptable for bodies affiliated with other countries' governments to map and register Norwegian citizens who have done nothing else yet to exercise their obvious democratic right to express themselves.

In Denmark, where something similar has happened, the Turkish ambassador has been called in to receive a diplomatic protest. Bjørnar Moxnes in Rødt has announced that he will ask the Norwegian government to do something similar – based on section 126 of the Penal Code, which states, among other things:

"A fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years is punishable by anyone who in Norwegian territory collects information about personal circumstances in favor of a foreign state or terrorist organization, when disclosure of these may endanger someone's life, health, liberty or property."

Letter to Søreide

I myself have written an open letter to Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, asking for answers to the following questions:

1. Does the Minister, or others in the Norwegian government system, intend to protest against Turkey – diplomatically or in other ways –
against government-sponsored institutions in Turkey mapping Norwegian citizens and describing innocent people as "dangerous" and "terrorists"? And if not – why not?

2. Turkey is one of Norway's allies through NATO. NATO has a counter-terrorism strategy, and I take it for granted that there is a comprehensive exchange of information between NATO allies. Is there a possibility that NATO countries other than Turkey will be able to use this list as a starting point for mapping, monitoring or sanctions against the people on this list?

3. Does the Minister have any idea what the people on this list are at risk of being exposed to?

It will be exciting to see what the Minister answers. To answer, she must.


(ps. MODERN TIMES's editor has also ended up on this list.)
Empty is a lyricist and translator.

You may also like