PEN SA Appalled by the Events Unfolding in Turkey
24 Aug 2016
We are appalled by the events unfolding in Turkey. The banning of newspapers, the closure of publishers and the persecution of writers and journalists is a body blow to Turkey’s democracy and to its future. From our own history as South Africans we know that a repressive government that shuts down dialogue, writing, the press, opposition and thought does untold damage to a society that takes decades to repair.
We call on President Erdoğan and the Turkish government to release Aslı Erdoğan and the other imprisoned writers and journalists. We call on South Africa’s government to put pressure on Turkey to ensure that free speech – the bedrock of any democratic society – is protected in Turkey.
President Margie Orford, Executive Vice-President Mandla Langa and Vice-President Raymond Louw
PEN South Africa
PEN South Africa has written to President Erdoğan of Turkey calling on him to safeguard freedom of expression, stop media censorship and release and drop charges against writers and journalists that have been detained as a result of peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Statement from PEN International:
Turkey: Writer & human rights activist Asli Erdogan, held on terror charges
Update #1 RAN 18/16
22 August 2016 – PEN International is concerned at the arrest of prize-winning novelist Aslı Erdoğan on 19 August over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), three days after she and over 20 other employees from the Özgür Gündem newspaper were detained.
Erdoğan was detained on 17 August, with more than 20 other journalists and employees from Özgür Gündem, 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.
Erdoğan, who serves as an advisory board member and columnist in the paper, was sent to a jail in Istanbul on preliminary charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “undermining national unity.” Erdogan’s arrest comes amid heightened concerns for rights and freedoms following last month’s failed coup.
While recognizing the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes during the attempted coup to justice, PEN International 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.
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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 recognizably 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;
Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.
PEN members are encouraged to publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Aslı Erdoğan and the situation of freedom of expression in Turkey. Please also consider adopting her as an honorary member of your Centre.
Aslı Erdoğan, a renowned novelist, columnist and human rights activist, in Turkey was detained on 17 August 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.
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.”
PEN International has documented at least 97 writers and journalists in custody as of 22 August 2016.
For further information please contact Sahar Halaimzai at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: Sahar.firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to sign PEN International’s petition demanding that President Erdoğan of Turkey safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect obligations under international law during this period of emergency.