Turkey: New wave of arrests against journalists leave renowned author Asli Erdoğan in prison
This post originally appeared on the PEN International website.
PEN is very concerned about the detention of Aslı Erdoğan, a renowned novelist, columnist, and human rights activist, in Turkey following a police raid into her apartment. Her arrest comes alongside more than 20 other journalists and employees from Özgür Gündem newspaper, a pro-Kurdish opposition daily, which was shut down by decree as part of the state of emergency in the country following the failed coup of July 15, 2016. Two further journalists from IMC TV, who were reporting on the raid, were also arrested. Erdoğan serves as an advisory board member and columnist in the paper.
“We are concerned that while carrying out legitimate investigations related to criminal conduct during the attempted coup, the Turkish authorities are using increased powers given by the state of emergency to silence dissenting and critical voices” said Ann Harrison, Director of Freedom to Write program at PEN International. “Turkish authorities have a disturbing track-record of suppressing freedom of expression and other forms of opposition and dissent, which has intensified in recent years.”
PEN calls on Turkey to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights, and respect their obligations under international law during this period of emergency, and to release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, as appears to be the case with Aslı Erdoğan and the other journalists from Özgür Gündem.
As a novelist, Aslı Erdoğan’s first novel, Kabuk Adam (Crust Man), was published in 1994, and has since published 7 books. Her short story “Wooden Birds” received first prize from Deutsche Welle radio in a 1997 competition, and her second novel, Kirmizi Pelerinli Kent (The City in Crimson Cloak), received numerous accolades abroad and has been published in English Language translation. Her texts have also been translated to French and in 2005 she was shortlisted by respected French literary magazine, Lire, as one of the “50 most promising authors of tomorrow.”