“I Read Asli Erdogan”: A Campaign in Support of Imprisoned ICORN Writer

by    /  November 30, 2016  / No comments

asli

Aslı Erdogan, one of the most important writers in Turkish literature today, was taken into custody on August 17, 2016 and has been imprisoned at Bakirkoy Closed Prison For Women since August 19.

Aslı Erdogan, whose books have been translated into 17 languages so far, has won many important literature prizes both in Turkey and in Europe. She was selected as one of the “50 most promising writers of tomorrow” in a shortlist by the French Literary Journal Lire. She recently won the Tucholsky Prize presented by Swedish PEN while she was still in prison.

Being a female conscientious objector and an antimilitarist, Aslı Erdogan poetically analyzes violence to its historical, philosophical and psychological extents, never neglecting to emphasize its phallocentric dimension in her columns as well as in her stories, novels and essays. The protagonists of her stories have always been an injured collective woman.  She tells these stories these through an intensely agonizing literary language, as if making two skinned bodies touch each other.

Having studied ballet and worked at the theater, Aslı Erdogan also once worked at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as a physicist. She started to write and quit physics in Brazil while she was working on her academic career there.

Though it is clearly stated in the Press Law within the Turkish Legal System that there is no legal and criminal provision, Aslı Erdogan was arrested with the claim of “aggravated life imprisonment” and the accusation for “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state” and  “being a member of a terrorist organization” while being an “editorial consultant” in Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda), which is a symbolic title. She was also arrested for four articles, one of which was published in Turkish literature journal Karakarga and three of which were published in Ozgur Gundem, despite the nonexistence of any rational evidence against her and any crime factors in accordance with the current Turkish legal system.

Despite her poor health condition, Aslı Erdogan is still kept in prison though no bill of indictment by prosecution has been prepared and no claims have been filed. Her attorney’s petitions against her being on trial without arrest are being rejected repeatedly.

What is being done to Erdogan is a crime against humanity. It is judgement of the freedom of thought and expression, which is a human right according to both Turkish laws and international agreements to which Turkey is also a party.

“Women riddled in murders, lifted me up; we were squashed into a poky basement. We were all crying in our mother tongues…. My mother looked at my face at length and said ‘All the city’s women cry at some point at night without failure….’” – from the play Merhaba by Asli Erdogan

Women from all over the world will increasingly give voice on the Internet by reading Asli’s sentences from her books in their native languages, joining Asli’s voice until her unjust suffering ends, Asli is free, and her conscientious imprisonment is over. In her letter from the prison, Aslı Erdogan says “Not only freedom of thought, but conscience is also being judged.”

You can also give voice and expand her voice by reading one or two paragraphs from one of Asli’s books of your selection.

To join the campaign “I Read Asli Erdogan,” hold one of Asli’s books and read one or two paragraphs of your choice, in your own language, in front of a camera screen. Send your video, recorded by any cameras or cellphone to either Flying Broom Women’s Communication and Research Association (info@ucansupurge.org) or FilmMor International Travelling Women Film Festival and Cooperative (medya@filmmor.com). Include your name, surname, the title of the book you have read, and your occupation.

This campaign is open to all female-identifying people from around the world, who speak any languages and from all occupations (writers, workers, unemployed, farmers, academicians, artists, lawyers, sex workers, social experts, actors, musicians, physicians, critics, businesswomen, sportswomen, etc.)

View the YouTube channel.

“We are like angels fluttering on the very spot with our wings that can never open. We are standing so close to each other, one of our tears are running on the other’s face. What are we waiting for, as such a crowd?” – Asli Erdogan, from her book Silence of Life

Asli Erdogan’s books were translated into 17 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Albanian, Macedonian, Kurdish, Lithuanian, Dutch, Chinese, Indonesian and Armenian.

“We, killed women of cities, are riddled by thin and transparent murders. We are crying for the blood running from our tongues, clenched, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, face to face in the basement of the languages built with the words generated for us for centuries. I am not praying for it to stop anymore in my own language. There is no need for it. As I am running from the toilet holes to drains, from drains to bushes, from bushes to pebbles, I realized that our mother tongues are just sound systems which are not divine or different from or superior to any other language when the male myth of the language becomes scant… I am a woman whose tongue was cut.” – from the play Merhaba by Asli Erdogan

SampsoniaWay.org is posting this campaign on behalf of Flying Broom Women’s Communication and Research Association and FilmMor International Traveling Women Film Festival and Cooperative. The campaign is not affiliated with SampsoniaWay.org, City of Asylum, or ICORN.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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