We are joining the international community in the protests and concerns, voiced by PEN International and other human rights organisations, in response to the recent arrest of Aslı Erdoǧan – writer, columnist, human rights activist, and beneficiary of the ICORN programme in Krakow – over her alleged terrorist activities.
Aslı Erdoǧan has written seven novels, which have been translated into multiple languages, she is a laureate of the Deutsche Welle Radio award, with works published in the leading newspapers and literary magazines in Europe. The French Lire magazine has named her one of the 50 most promising writers in the world. She is also a keen and passionate columnist, a writer who is deeply involved in defending human rights and freedom of speech in her home country, relentlessly fighting for the rights of ethnic minorities, equal rights for women and the unconditional right of public expression – the foundations of a democratic country and civic society.
In 2015, after over a decade spent in emigration, Aslı Erdoǧan received the support of the ICORN Cities of Refuge Network, an organisation based in Stavanger (Norway), founded in order to ensure safe living and working conditions for writers persecuted for ideological reasons in their home countries. Krakow is a member of the network. During her stay in Krakow in 2015, Aslı let everyone get to know her as a person who is wholeheartedly dedicated to both literature and the idea of freedom. Despite being in danger of a groundless arrest and in spite of the opportunity to stay in Poland after ending the scholarship in Krakow, Aslı decided to return to Turkey in order to promote the issue of human rights, to which she devoted her entire life and career.
On the 17th of August, the writer was arrested in her own apartment, together with over 20 employees of the Kurdish daily paper Özgür Gündem, in which she has been published since 1998.
We are not convinced by the arguments claiming the alleged terrorist activities, which were the ground for the arrest of Aslı Erdoǧan, and with full conviction we sign our names to the words of Ann Harrison, Director of the Freedom to Write program at PEN International. We are concerned that whilst carrying out legitimate investigations related to criminal conduct during the attempted coup, the Turkish authorities are using increased powers given by the state of emergency to silence dissenting and critical voices.
Poland and Turkey are connected by 600 years of mutual relations, intellectual exchange and economic partnership. It was the Ottoman Empire that raised the issue of the Polish statehood in the difficult times of the Partitions. On behalf of Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature we strongly protest against the decision to arrest Aslı Erdoǧan, which is a violation of fundamental human rights, and we demand her immediate release.
Krakow Festival Office
Villa Decius Association
Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature Literary Team