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Nina George writes to imprisoned Turkish writer Asli Erdoğan

Wednesday 23 November 2016 - 12:53pm


A week after PEN’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer, celebrated German novelist Nina George writes to imprisoned writer Asli Erdogan.

Dear Aslı,

Since the moment you were unjustly put in the “Cemetery of the Living“ - the women‘s prison of Bakirköy - you have been on my mind every single day.

I have to admit; I cried. I cried about the unfairness. The treatment against you. The cruelty. The lack of reason and good sense.

I have to admit too: I am also in fear. I am in fear, because the darker times came back sooner than I had ever expected. What is happening in Turkey - the country of many of my friends since I was a schoolgirl - reminds me in a painful manner of what my parents and grandparents told me about the darkest years of Germany.

Intellectuals, artists, teachers are hunted and imprisoned, just because they follow the values of democracy.

Freedom of expression is in acute danger in Turkey, but it’s not only there. All over the globe there are tendencies against freedom of words, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion; against gender, against sexual orientation. The destroyers and opinion-leaders have many names: Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Dear Aslı, I would like to to let you know that thousands and thousands of people in Germany as well as in the whole world are standing by your side. Each day, we read, write and talk about you, about your books – "your children", as you said. I promise; we will never forget them. In Germany, Poland, France, Austria we are campaigning to shout out our solidarity for you and every single writer in Turkey who is under arrest and persecution. We urge the European policy-makers to call for an uncompromising respect for freedom of expression in any related decisions, actions and statements they make.

But it is also now on us. The writers. The Europeans. The people of now.  Writers and publishers; our mission has changed!

This is the world in which we live. Let us take our words, and a deep long breath, to lay light trails of courage and humanity, to hold against, to not keep the mouth shut.

We are no heroes. We will never be any.

But we're on it now. This is our work. This has to be our work more than ever.

My far colleague, my sister in mind, dear Aslı: I am sending you my deep respect. Beyond the bars of your cell, beyond the walls of your prison, you give us, the writers all over the world, the power to stand up, to fight for freedom in every language.

I will enjoy the day we will meet in person. We will step out in the sun, to talk, to laugh, to eat. The day will come.

And now: back to work. Never stop writing.


Nina George

Read the letter in its original German here