LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2017) — The University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and the United Nations Association of the United States of America's Bluegrass Chapter will recognize United Nations Day with a visit from a journalist who has stepped around and beyond his byline to become an international symbol for the victims of political oppression.
Abdülhamit Bilici is a Turkish newspaper executive now in exile following political turmoil and government oppression of the media in Turkey. He will address "The Importance of a Free Press: The Story of a Journalist in Exile," 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Gatton College of Business and Economics Room 291.
In one of his last editorial columns, published the week before his newspaper was seized and he was exiled by the Turkish government in March 2016, Bilici wrote, “Democracy is characterized by diversity. The media constitute an essential ingredient of democracy because they act as a check on the major powers in a democracy. But we live in a period when it is impossible to talk about democracy or the rule of law. Today, we are witnessing how even the most fundamental standards are being destroyed one by one.”
"US-Turkey and Turkey-NATO/EU relationships and Turkey's relationships with other actors like Russia and Syria are quite timely, even pressing," said Gregory Hall, associate professor in the Patterson School. "By receiving such speakers, the Patterson School is exposing students to a range of important issues and perspectives from a cross-section of Turkish society. The current growing political and diplomatic conflicts between Turkey and its Western partners and the implications of these conflicts underscore the necessity for understanding the myriad interests and perspectives at play."
Before being forced to leave his homeland, Bilici most recently served as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zaman and chief executive officer of Zaman Daily, the largest daily newspaper in Turkey. Bilici also served as general director of Cihan News Agency and as editor of Aksiyon Weekly Magazine. Bilici is a member of the Turkish Journalists Association, Journalists and Writers Foundation, and World Association of Newspapers.
Starting his career at Zaman Daily as a correspondent, Bilici worked as an editor at Aksiyon Magazine, 1995-1997; as foreign news editor at Zaman Daily, 1998-2001; and as general editor at Zaman Daily 2002-2008.
Bilici is an expert on Turkish politics and is widely sought as a speaker on the ongoing political crisis. He is editor of the book "Why Turkey?" that combines different perspectives on Turkey-European Union relations.
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