Last update: 14-Apr-2020 11:14
17 February 2020:
Turkish novelist in self-imposed exile not to return home despite acquittal
Prominent Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, who now lives in self-imposed exile, has said she would not return home to Turkey despite her acquittal last week of terrorism charges in a long-running case, AFP reported.
The award-winning author, whose books have been translated into 21 languages, spent four months in jail in 2016 as part of a probe into a newspaper’s alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.
An İstanbul court acquitted Erdoğan on Friday of membership of an armed terrorist group and disrupting the unity of the state, while charges of spreading terrorist propaganda were dropped.
After her release she traveled to Germany in 2017 as soon as she received her passport back. She has been in self-imposed exile ever since.
“To be honest, I was very surprised. Almost everyone took it for granted that I would be convicted,” the writer told AFP in a phone interview Sunday.
“I still cannot believe it, but if it’s not that, there will be another case,” said Erdoğan — who is not related to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The writer said she had risked a life sentence just because her name was on the literary advisory list of the now-closed pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper.
In Germany, she has had surgery twice for muscle paralysis of the intestine, a condition which doctors say is post-traumatic.
“At the age of 52, I encountered a disease that should occur in one’s 80s,” she said, adding that her stint in jail also played a part.
However, she has no plans to return home because the authorities could seize upon anything she might say to charge her with further offenses, with potentially fatal consequences.
“Another arrest would mean death for me… Under the current circumstances, I cannot return given a risk of detention,” she said.
Since a failed putsch in Turkey in 2016, tens of thousands of people including academics and journalists have been arrested suspected of links to coup plotters.
Critics accuse the president of using the coup to silence opponents, but the government argues a wholesale purge is needed to rid the network of followers blamed for the failed coup.
13 January 2020:
The “Özgür Gündem main trial,” where nine former editors, executives and members of the editorial advisory board of the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem face terrorism-related charges, resumed on 13 January 2020 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The prosecutor presented his final opinion during the hearing, asking the court to convict Aslı Erdoğan and Zana Kaya of “terrorism propaganda” while seeking prison sentences for Eren Keskin, İnan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.” The prosecutor asked the court to acquit Bilge Aykut and Necmiye Alpay of all charges and to separate the files of Ragıp Zarakolu and Filiz Koçali.
Granting the defendants and their lawyers additional time for the preparation of their final defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 14 February 2020. A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Exiled novelist Aslı Erdoğan: Turkey has a fascist regime like 1930s Germany
Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, living in exile in Germany as she risks a life sentence on terror charges at home, thinks the writing is on the wall: Her country is sliding into fascism.
Speaking to AFP, the award-winning author, still traumatized by the four months she spent in an İstanbul prison, warns that Turkey’s institutions are “in a state of total collapse.”
In President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — no relation — she sees a man tightening control over everyday Turkish life, emboldened by an outright victory in June elections, sweeping new powers and a crackdown on opponents.
“The extent of things in Turkey is like Nazi Germany,” the flame-haired 51-year-old said in Frankfurt, her temporary home as she awaits the outcome of her court case in absentia.
“A crucial factor is the lack of a judicial system,” she added, describing a country of overcrowded prisons and pro-Erdoğan judges in their twenties rushed in to replace ousted peers.
Asli herself was among the more than 70,000 people caught up in a wave of arrests under a state of emergency imposed after a failed 2016 coup against Erdoğan.
She was held for 136 days over her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper before being unexpectedly freed on bail.
The detention of the author of such novels as “The City in Crimson Cloak” and “The Stone Building and Other Places,” famed for their unflinching explorations of loss and trauma, drew international condemnation.
Turkey’s Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk has called her “an exceptionally perceptive and sensitive writer.”
Turkey’s post-coup purge targeted not just alleged backers of preacher Fethullah Gülen, blamed by Ankara for the attempted putsch, but also opposition media and people accused of ties to Kurdish militants.
Turkish authorities reject accusations of wide-scale rights violations after the coup, and the state of emergency was lifted last month, after Erdoğan was re-elected under a new executive-style presidency giving him direct control of ministries and public institutions.
“Erdoğan is almost omnipotent,” Aslı said.
“He decides on the price of medicine, on the future of classical ballet, his family members are in charge of the economy… Opera, which he hates, is also directly tied to him,” she added, chuckling.
“That’s the nice thing about fascism, it’s also pathetically funny sometimes.”
Turkish lawmakers have also approved new legislation giving authorities greater powers in detaining suspects and imposing public order, which officials say is necessary to combat multiple terror risks.
“It’s an emergency state made permanent,” said Aslı.
As for herself, Aslı has given up hope of being acquitted and returning to Turkey anytime soon.
“They are not bluffing,” she said she realized after several journalists were sentenced to life terms.
She faces charges of spreading “terror propaganda” for her work as a literary advisor to the newspaper Özgür Gündem.
The paper itself was shut down, accused by Turkish authorities of being a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
The next hearings in Aslı’s case are scheduled for October and March.
The diminutive former physicist said the wait for the verdict was “almost unbearable.”
“One of the biggest tortures you can do to a human being is to keep his fate unknown.”
Released from prison in late December 2016, it took Aslı until last September to get her passport back from Turkish authorities.
She immediately left for Germany, following other Turkish artists and intellectuals into exile.
She now lives in Frankfurt, the recipient of a flat and a monthly stipend as part of the international Cities of Refuge project.
The scheme aims to provide persecuted writers with a safe haven from where they can continue working. (turkishminute.com) Source
Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan to receive Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom
Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan has been awarded this year’s Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom, prominent French feminist magazine “Emma” has announced.
The jury of the Simone de Beauvoir Prize decided unanimously to award Erdoğan, who will receive the award on Jan. 10, 2018 at the Latin America House in Paris.
The Simone de Beauvoir Prize is an international human rights prize awarded since 2008 to individuals or groups fighting for gender equality and opposing breaches of human rights. It is named after the French author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, particularly well-known for her 1949 women’s rights treatise “The Second Sex.”
Previously, Erdoğan received Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize in the German city of Osnabrück on Sept. 22.
Erdoğan, who spent 132 days in jail after being arrested last summer, gave a speech before the ceremony, expressing her happiness at being in Germany for the ceremony but highlighting that “180 writers in Turkey are still in jail and unable to go abroad.”
She had been arrested on charges of carrying out “terror propaganda” in a probe into the now-closed daily Özgür Gündem, which Ankara condemned as a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Erdoğan was released in December 2016 but because her charges are ongoing she was given a travel ban, hindering her from participating in numerous award ceremonies abroad.
The travel ban was lifted by a court order on June 22 and the authorities finally returned Erdoğan’s passport more than two months after her travel ban was lifted, her lawyer stated on Sept. 8. Source
7 September 2017:
5 December 2016:
Imprisoned novelist Aslı Erdoğan at risk of being paralyzed: CHP deputy
Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, arrested in August on terror charges as part of the investigation into closed daily Özgür Gündem, is at risk of being paralyzed while in jail, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer has said.
In a parliamentary question submitted to be answered by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Çakırözer detailed ongoing restrictions to fundamental rights of the imprisoned after the failed coup attempt of July 15, pointing to health problems faced by many inmates, including a number of journalists and writers.