Turkish author Aslı Erdoğan, who was released on December 29, 2016 after 132 days in jail due to links to the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, has said it is psychological torture not to be allowed to travel to accept the Erich Maria Remarque Award on September 22 in Germany.
Erdoğan, who spoke to the Evrensel daily about being restricted from traveling, said she could not attend other ceremonies as well in addition to missing between 30 to 40 festivals to which she was invited.
“I am not feeling very well, to be honest. I have experienced a succession of traumas. Being famous is also a trauma. To be pushed before the press… Just when you think ‘It’s all over; I am out,’ they say, ‘No, we can play with you whenever we want just like a cat plays with a mouse.’ … This is psychological torture. It is a very heavy torture. Are not they going to leave me with a choice other than hunger strike or suicide?”
The German ZDF 2 channel announced on Tuesday that the Erich Maria Remarque Award for 2017 was to be bestowed on Erdoğan for her writings on political developments in Turkey; however, she will not be able to attend the ceremony to accept the award as Turkish authorities seized her passport as part of a court decision banning her from traveling abroad.
After her arrest, Erdoğan received several awards from around the world, including the Stuttgart Peace Prize, the Tucholsky Prize and the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture. She was not able to travel overseas to accept these awards, either, due to the travel ban. Some of them were presented to her in Turkey.
Renowned writer Erdoğan and several other intellectuals, journalists and academics were included in an indictment for serving as editorial board advisors of the pro-Kurdish newspaper. The indictment portrayed Özgür Gündem as a publication of “the terrorist organization,” in reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 283 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 18, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 258 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) recently announced that more than 900 press cards were cancelled. (SCF with turkishminute.com)