PEN Calls for the Release of Aslı Erdoğan

15 Nov 2016
PEN Calls for the Release of Aslı Erdoğan

This is one of the cases highlighted by PEN on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2016. Read about the other cases here.

Renowned novelist and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan was arrested at her home in Istanbul on 17 August 2016. She was sent to a prison 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 as of 15 November, no date has been set for her trial. Read more about the case and find out what you can do to help on PEN International’s website.

PEN South Africa sent a letter in August to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressing concern about the country’s crackdown on freedom of expression:

PEN South Africa wishes to draw your attention to our concern at the crackdown on freedom of expression, peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education in Turkey. We ask that freedom of expression and human rights are respected during this period of emergency.

Freedom of expression is a right enshrined in Turkey’s constitution. It is also the cornerstone of a free and fair society where individuals can express themselves and their beliefs or opinions without fear of state reprisals and censorship.

We are deeply concerned that alongside legitimate investigations and detentions related to criminal conduct during the attempted coup, journalists, writers, academics and the media at large are being silenced unlawfully in contravention of Turkey’s constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Journalists in Turkey face unprecedented legal obstacles in reporting on national security issues, this along with the continued use of the penal code, criminal defamation laws, and the antiterrorism law to crack down on journalists and media outlets further hinders the circulation of information and freedom of the press.

Further, we request that the writers and journalists who have been detained have access to legal representation, and that if they are not to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence they be released or tried promptly in accordance with international fair trail standards. We also ask for the release of those who have been detained as a result of peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, as well as the end to censorship of media outlets that are critical of the state.

Finally, the use of torture is absolutely prohibited and cannot be overruled by the current state of emergency. PEN South Africa protests at the manner in which peaceful protestors and critical journalists are being jailed and brutalised in Turkey for exercising their internationally recognized right to peacefully express their opinions.

Margie Orford
President PEN South Africa

Mandla Langa
Executive Vice-President

Raymond Louw
Vice President