1 September 2017 – PEN International is concerned about the travel restrictions placed by the Turkish authorities on award-winning author and PEN honorary member Aslı Erdoğan. She is due to travel to Osnabrück, Germany, in order to receive the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize at a ceremony to be held in her honour on 22 September 2017. However, on 29 August the city of Osnabrück, which awards the Prize, announced that Erdoğan would not be able to attend the ceremony in person.
Erdoğan’s travel ban (see ‘Background’, below) was officially rescinded in June. Nevertheless, she still requires permission from the Interior Ministry to travel abroad. PEN International believes that the charges against Erdoğan relate solely to her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and calls on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges laid against her immediately and unconditionally. PEN also calls on the authorities to lift the travel restrictions imposed upon her.
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Send appeals to the Turkish authorities:
- Urging them to allow writer Aslı Erdoğan to travel to the awards ceremony in Osnabrück, Germany, in September, and to allow her to travel abroad more generally;
- Urging them to drop all charges against Aslı Erdoğan immediately and unconditionally.
Minister of Justice
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Minister of Interior Affairs
T.C. İçişleri Bakanlığı
Devlet Mahallesi, İsmet İnönü Blv. No:4
Please copy appeals to:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Fax: +90 312 525 58 31
Please copy your appeals also to the diplomatic representative for Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
On 17 August 2016, Aslı Erdoğan, a PEN honorary member and renowned novelist, columnist and human rights activist, was detained following a police raid on her apartment. She was arrested on charges of membership of a terrorist organisation and producing terrorist propaganda, alongside more than 20 other journalists and employees from Özgür Gündem newspaper, a pro-Kurdish opposition daily. The newspaper was shut down by decree as part of the state of emergency in the country following the attempted coup of 15 July 2016. Erdoğan served as an advisory board member and columnist of the paper.
On 29 December 2016, Erdoğan was released from prison after spending 132 days behind bars. Despite her release, Erdoğan continues to face an uncertain fate, as charges of producing ‘terrorist propaganda’ against her remain, for which she could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty (see RAN 18/16 and updates for more information). She was placed under a travel ban, which was lifted by the court in June 2017. Nevertheless, she still requires permission from the Interior Ministry to travel abroad.
Speaking to Turkish media outlets, Erdoğan commented saying ‘They [the Ministry of the Interior] are implying “We can play with you like a cat with a mouse.” This is psychological torment. A heavy one at that.’
PEN International believes that the charges against Erdoğan relate solely to her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression.
Aslı Erdoğan’s first novel, Kabuk Adam (‘Crust Man’), was published in 1994 and she has published seven books since. 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 language translations. In 2005 she was shortlisted by respected French literary magazine Lire as one of the ‘50 most promising authors of tomorrow’. Erdoğan is an Honorary Member of Danish and Norwegian PEN.
For further details contact Laurens Hueting at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org