ID: 201611151161

15 November 2016 – On the Day of the Imprisoned Writer take action with PEN for writers imprisoned for their work.

On 17 August 2016, renowned novelist and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan was arrested at her home in Istanbul, Turkey. A columnist and member of the pro-Kurdish opposition daily Özgür Gündem’s advisory board, which was shut down under the state of emergency that followed the failed coup of 15 July 2016, her arrest came alongside that of more than 20 other journalists and employees of the paper.

Erdoğan, who suffers from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, was sent to a jail 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 no date has currently been set for her trial.

Erdoğan’s arrest comes amid heightened concerns for rights and freedoms following the failed coup attempt in July. As of 24 October 2016, 135 journalists had been charged and were in pre- trial detention; at least 8 others were detained without charge and others were in police custody under investigation.

The Turkish authorities have shut down more than 100 media outlets, censored at least 30 news websites, and stripped more than 600 members of the press of their credentials; 29 publishing houses have been ordered closed and there have been reports of wide-spread ill-treatment in custody. Over 70,000 people have detained, placed under investigation, suspended or fired, including teachers, civil servants, academics and others.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that he would extend the country’s state of emergency by 90 days, holding on to his almost unlimited discretionary powers to rule by decree. The extension came into effect on 19 October and will last for an additional 90 days, and could be renewed.

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.

‘I have been very happy and honoured to be chosen as an honorary member of Danish PEN. On August 16, my apartment was busted by special forces policemen… I spent 72 hours in custody, in a cage. I have declared several times to the police, prosecutor and the judge that as a member of the ‘board of advisors’ of Özgür Gündem, I have no legal responsibility for the paper. I hope to be released as soon as I face the real trial.’ – Excerpt from a letter Erdoğan sent to Danish PEN.

Take Action – share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media

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.

Land: TUR