PEN official, publisher slam Turkey on scribes
The vice president of the prominent global writers’ association PEN International and the publisher for renowned British author Salman Rushdie have criticized the continued arrest of intellectuals and journalists in Turkey.
“We were led to believe that the AKP’s [Justice and Development Party] accession to power would trigger a change and transformation in Turkey and that democracy would develop, but the picture has turned upside down,” PEN International Vice President Eugene Schoulgin, who is currently writing his new novel in Turkey, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.
William Nygaard, Rushdie’s publisher, also lent his weight to the protest.
Schoulgin said people were labeled terrorists because of their thoughts and that individuals who were fighting for a brighter future in Turkey, such as human rights activist and author Ragıp Zarakolu and Professor Büşra Ersanlı, kept landing in jail.
“By contrast, [the authorities] are freeing those who incinerated people alive in the Sivas Massacre, and Hrant Dink’s murderers are freely roaming about. What sort of a contradiction is that?” Schoulgin said.
Schoulgin also criticized European Union Minister Egemen Bağış.
“Minister Bağış had said there were no journalists jailed in Turkey due to their occupational [activities], and that those in prison were rapists and bank robbers. Following these comments, [the authorities] released journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık after [they had spent] a year [behind bars]. Should we then draw this conclusion: Those who are currently held in prison are rapists and robbers? These are tragic comments,” he said.