The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg is sponsoring a Turkish Speaker Series, collaborating with World Affairs Councils throughout the nation to monitor developments in the country that is a NATO ally and a major influence throughout the Middle East and Asia.  Once on the path to economic prosperity and democracy, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, many fear Turkey is descending into an era of despotism. Thousands of journalists, judges, teachers and democracy activists have been rounded up and imprisoned for opposing the government’s increasingly dictatorial and repressive moves to consolidate power.  Many intellectuals have fled the country and are speaking out about their fears for Turkey’s future.

Contact Kait Lundy at wacharrisburg@gmail.com or at 717 221 1627 for details and to book speakers.

Available speakers include:

 Abdülhamit Bilici is a Turkish newspaper executive in exile in the United States following recent political turmoil and government oppression of the media in Turkey.  Before leaving the country, Bilici served as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zaman, the largest daily newspaper in Turkey. He also was Chief Executive Officer of its English-language version,Today’s Zaman. Bilici also served as general director of Cihan News Agency and editor of Aksiyon Weekly Magazine.

Starting his career at Zaman daily as a correspondent, Bilici worked as an editor at Aksiyon Magazine between 1995-1997, as foreign news editor at Zaman Daily between 1998-2001, as general editor at Zaman Daily between 2002-2008 and as general director of Cihan News Agency and as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zaman Newspaper and is a columnist for Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies.

Bilici is an expert on Turkish politics and is widely sought as a speaker on the ongoing political crisis. Bilici is editor of the book Why Turkey?, which combines different perspectives on Turkey-EU relations.


Judge Talip Aydin worked as a judge in Civil and Criminal Courts in different parts of Turkey between 1997-2004. In the next five years, he worked as a judge rapporteur in the Directorate General of International Law and Foreign Relations in Ministry of Justice and dealt with judicial cooperation on criminal and legal matters, the Council of Europe and the United Nations conventions on borderless crime, terrorism, corruption, human rights.

He was the Head of Human Rights Department and dealt with defending the Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights, also acted as a coordinator to eliminate structural problems of Turkey from 2009 to 2011. Then till 2013 he was the Judge responsible for prison and prisoners in Ankara Courthouse. He was purged from the Ministry of Justice on July 2016 and all of his assets were confiscated. He is currently a Ph.D candidate at Penn State.


Aydoğan Vatandaş (born 1974) is an investigative journalist from Turkey, specializing in Political Science and International Relations. He is the author of 13 books, many of which have become bestsellers in Turkey. ‘Reporting from the Bridge’ and ‘Hungry for Power: Erdogan’s Witch Hunt and The Abuse of State Power’ are the first two books published in English in the U.S.  

The book “Hungry for Power; Erdoğan’s Witch Hunt and Abuse of State Power” serves as a collection of significant articles that shed light on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s transition from Muslim democrat to an authoritarian leader while also delving into complex issues like violence in the Middle East. https://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Power-Erdogans-Witch-Abuse/dp/1935295772



Dr. Faruk Taban is the President of the Turkic American Alliance (TAA), a broader organization covering Turkic-American institutions nationwide, with its head office in Washington, D.C. Prior to his appointment at TAA, Dr. Taban held leadership positions in the community and actively engaged in various volunteering projects. He was a Member of the White House Ethnic Committee during previous administration. Dr. Taban continuously participates in a variety of Washington DC events in an effort to promote dialogue and an understanding of the Turkic community and its culture. He received his M.Sc. in Materials Engineering from University of Southern California, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada and taught at Western Nevada College. He became a faculty member at the University of Denver and later worked as an Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University of America.