On 17 August 2016, renowned novelist and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan was arrested at her home in Istanbul, Turkey. A columnist and member of the pro-Kurdish opposition daily Özgür Gündem’s advisory board, which was shut down under the state of emergency that followed the failed coup of 15 July 2016, her arrest came alongside that of more than 20 other journalists and employees of the paper.
Erdoğan, who suffers from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, was sent to a jail in Istanbul on preliminary charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘undermining national unity.’ She has been in pre-trial detention since her arrest, and no date has currently been set for her trial.
Erdoğan’s arrest comes amid heightened concerns for rights and freedoms following the failed coup attempt in July. As of 24 October 2016, 135 journalists had been charged and were in pre- trial detention; at least 8 others were detained without charge and others were in police custody under investigation.
The Turkish authorities have shut down more than 100 media outlets, censored at least 30 news websites, and stripped more than 600 members of the press of their credentials; 29 publishing houses have been ordered closed and there have been reports of wide-spread ill-treatment in custody. Over 70,000 people have detained, placed under investigation, suspended or fired, including teachers, civil servants, academics and others.
Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that he would extend the country’s state of emergency by 90 days, holding on to his almost unlimited discretionary powers to rule by decree. The extension came into effect on 19 October and will last for an additional 90 days, and could be renewed
While recognising the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes during the attempted coup to justice, PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect their obligations under international law during the declared state 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.
Spread the word
Share details of Aslı Erdoğan’s case with friends and colleagues and on social media. Please use the hashtags #ImprisonedWriter and #LetAslıErdoğanFree
Send messages of support
Send messages and postcards of solidarity and support to Aslı Erdoğan in prison at the following address:
Ms. Asli Erdogan
Bakirkoy Kadin Kapali Tutukevi
Bakirkoy – Istanbul – Turkey
Please also take a photo of your postcard and share on social media with the hashtag #yazarimadokunma (don’t touch my author).
Read her work
Read and share Aslı Erdoğan’s writing, including this translation of ‘The Prisoner’, translated by Deniz Perin, published by Words Without Borders.
Sign the petition
Sign the petition for Aslı Erdoğan’s release on change.org
Send Appeals to the Turkish authorities:
- Urging them to immediately release Aslı Erdoğan who PEN believes is held solely in connection with her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression;
- Calling for all detained writers and journalists to have access to lawyers and to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognisably criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
- Calling on them not to use the state of emergency to crack down on peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education.
|Minister of Justice
Mr. Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Justice
Twitter : @bybekirbozag
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
Aslı Erdoğan was born in Istanbul, in 1967. She graduate in Computer Engineering in 1988 and obtained a Master’s Degree in Physics in 1993 before working as a high-energy research physicist at CERN, Geneva and completed her thesis in Higgs Physics there. While she was living and working in Rio de Janeiro, she left her scientific career in 1995 and after a two-year stay in South America, she returned to Istanbul as a freelance writer.
Aslı Erdoğan’s first novel, Kabuk Adam (Crust Man), was published in 1994 and since published seven 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 15 languages. 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.’
A human rights activist since 1993, Aslı Erdoğan has frequently suffered persecution in Turkey, and has lived abroad in exile. In July 2015, she was welcomed as a guest writer in the Krakow City of Literature on a fellowship offered by the International Cities of Refuge Network, a close partner of PEN International. The City has also issued a petition calling for her release.
She has been adopted as an Honorary Member by Danish PEN and Norwegian PEN.