Asli Erdogan Detained in Turkey
Former ICORN writer-in-residence in Krakow city of refuge, Asli Erdoğan, was detained in Turkey on Wednesday after acting as columnist and stand-in-editor to the Turkish newspaper, Özgür Gündem.
Aslı Erdoğan is a prize-winning author, columnist and human rights activist, and has tackled controversial issues such as torture, human rights violations in prisons, violence against women and Kurdish rights ever since she began her journalistic career at the left-wing intellectual newspaper RADİKAL in 1998. Since her literary breakthrough in 1994, she has published 7 books, among them the best sellers The Shell Man, The City in Crimson Cloak and, her latest book, The Stone Building, which have all been translated into several languages.
Erdogan has contributed regularly to Özgür Gündem since the 1990ies. A pro-Kurdish opposition daily, the newspaper was shut down by decree in the aftermath of the failed coup of 15 July 2016. But the paper has been under frequent pressure from the Turkish authorities; its publication was banned between 1994 and 2011, and many of its reporters have been arrested over the years on charges of support for the PKK. Turkish journalists and editors have been participating in solidarity action for the daily to ensure its continuation, acting as its Editors-in-Chief-on-Watch.
During her ICORN residency in Krakow, Erdoğan continued to write for Özgür Gündem, and in June, after returning to Turkey in January, she acted as the symbolic editor of the paper. ICORN has been in continuous contact with her until a week before her arrest.
In a statement by PEN International, they express serious concern about her arrest, along with many other journalists detained after the faild coup d’etat 15 July this year:
17 August 2017 – PEN International 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 15 July 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 whilst 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 International 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.
A physicist by training, Aslı Erdoğan is a prize-winning writer and columnist. After working as a particle physicist at CERN, Erdoğan debuted as a novelist in 1994 with The Shell Man. Her major breakthrough came with The City in Crimson Cloak in 1998, a well reviewed novel in Turkey, Europe and US. Her latest novel The Stone Building received the most prestigious literary award, Sait Faik, in Turkey in 2010 and is being translated into Swedish, Norwegian and French.
Erdoğan has published over 200 articles nationally and internationally, and her works; novels, collections of poems, short stories, poetic prose, travel essays and political articles, have been transleted into many languages.
Tackling controversial issues, she has been persecuted in a variety of ways, lost her job more than once, subjected to lynch campaigns and she has had to live in exile for several years.