Writers’ Centre Norwich joins PEN International, UNESCO City of Krakow and other freedom of speech organisations across the world in support of Asli Erdoğan, the renowned novelist, columnist and human rights activist who has been arrested and detained in Turkey.
PEN International has issued a statement saying they are ‘very concerned’ for Erdoğan, who has been arrested for alleged terrorist activity alongside more than 20 other journalists and employees from Özgür Gündem newspaper, a pro-Kurdish opposition daily. Özgür Gündem 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.
Ann Harrison, Director of the Freedom to Write programme at PEN International, said:
‘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.’
‘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.’
Chris Gribble, Chief Executive of Writers’ Centre Norwich and Chair of the Board for the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), said:
‘ICORN and its city members supports the campaign by Krakow City of Refuge and PEN International for the release of Asli Erdoğan and her fellow journalists. A noted and widely translated novelist, columnist and human rights activist as well as a former ICORN writer-in-residence in Krakow, Erdoğan has championed freedom of expression for many years. ‘
‘She was undertaking legitimate work in her homeland and her arrest is of great concern to her international community of writers and human rights activists.’
PEN International has called 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.
Asli Erdoğan is a renowned novelist, columnist and human rights activist. She is the author of seven novels translated into 14 languages, winner of the prize Radio Deutsche Welle, and was listed as one of 50 most promising writers of the world by Lire.
The ICORN Fellow is a passionate journalist, deeply involved in issues of human rights and freedom of expression in her native Turkey, and has published over 200 articles – many of them criticising Turkish politicians and the government. In 2015, Krakow UNESCO City of Literature offered Erdoğan safe political refuge in order to develop her work.
Petition for freedom
Krakow City of Literature has created an online petition calling for Erdoğan’s release, in which they praise her for being ‘utterly devoted to literature and the idea of freedom’. An English version will soon follow..