Beşiktaş Municipality plans to erect sculptures of 12 assassinated Turkish intellectuals who fought for democracy throughout their lives, in a park called Heroes of Democracy. They will be erected by the end of June

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

Sculptures of 12 Turkish intellectuals who were victims of politically motivated murders in recent decades have been completed by a group of Turkish artists and will soon be erected in a park in the heart of Istanbul.
Seven academics from Mimar Sinan University, or MSÜ's, sculpting department were first brought together for a workshop at the historic Tophane-i Amire building, and, after months of tiring and meticulous work, have created the sculptures.
The sculptures are of intellectuals Uğur Mumcu, Muammer Aksoy, Asım Bezirci, Bahriye Üçok, Ümit Doğanay, Onat Kutlar, Abdi İpekçi, Doğan Öz, Çetin Emeç, Bedrettin Cömert, Ahmet Taner Kışlalı, and Cavit Orhan Tütengil.
At last week's workshop by Professor Ferit Özşen, who directs the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the sculptures were finally poured into their bronze molds. The "12 Intellectuals" project is the second collective project by the Anıtkabir group.
In addition to Özşen, the group of sculptors included MSÜ professors Rahmi Sungur, the dean of the Fine Arts Department; Vedat Somay, chairman of the Sculpture Department; and Fatma Akyürek, Ayla Aksungur, Yıldız Güner and Önder Büyükerman.
To make the sculptures resemble the real-life figures as closely as possible, they were examined by academics familiar with each figure.
The idea for producing sculptures of assassinated intellectuals came from İsmail Ünal, mayor of Istanbul's Beşiktaş district, who suggested a list of 53 names, including Hrant Dink, editor in chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, who was assassinated in front of the newspaper's building on Jan. 19, 2007.
Although the idea of creating Dink's sculpture was welcomed enthusiastically, the project was postponed due to security concerns. �Turkey is undergoing quite a sensitive process. At the moment, if we erect Dink's sculpture in a public space, some would probably break it into pieces. That is the reason of the delay,� said a member of board of sculptors.
Families of the 12 assassinated intellectuals also have concerns that their sculptures might be attacked. This project, unfortunately, did not make them happy, according to members of the board
Intellectual activity, which is simply an exercise of freedom of thought, should not be a crime in Turkey any longer, the academics said, pointing to the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution. They said they do not want people killed in Turkey simply because they express their ideas.
The sculptures will be erected in the Heroes of Democracy park, located on a 10,000-square meter area near the Emlak Konutları (Emlak Residences) in the 4.Levent district of Istanbul. The group said Beşiktaş Municipality has not yet made any preparations for the opening ceremony, but officials from the municipality reject that claim, saying the sculptures will be erected in the park by the end of June at the latest.
At the initial stage of the project, academics first made to-scale models one-fifth the size of the end product. Somay chose to make a sculpture of journalist Onat Kutlar, who died in a bomb attack against him in Taksim in 1994, and political scientist Ümit Yaşar Doğanay, who was murdered in 1979.
�Kutlar was the idol of my housemate during my student life,� said Somay, explaining why she chose to make his sculpture.
The project is significant but needs more time and financial support, said Somay, adding the state does not have a sufficient budget for such projects in Turkey, so the artists must work with fluid capital. The artists and academics who produced the sculptures of the 12 intellectuals will be paid only a 40 percent share in return for their four month long effort.
About 37 percent of their 40 percent share will be paid as tax.