January 31, 2017
Coalition of writers sends letter to colleagues imprisoned in Turkey
by Melville House
A coalition of 150 writers, including Nobel laureates, former prisoners of conscience, and and many more, has sent a letter of support to colleagues imprisoned in Turkey via PEN International. Turkey, as the letter spells out, is now the world’s leader in jailing writers.
We are writing to you to let you know that you are not alone. We are writing to tell you that we will not stand idly by in your time of need. We will not be silent while your human rights are violated. We will raise our global voice against any effort to silence yours….
A climate of free expression where the free exchange of ideas is facilitated fosters mutual understanding, transparency and accountability and ultimately enhances national security. Turkey must uphold its obligations to protect free expression and other human rights and the writers of Turkey must be able to speak, to criticise, to protest, without fear of reprisals. Our word, our pens, our voices in your support is our continued pledge to you.
We’ve covered the developing story of Turkey’s crackdown on writers—both journalists and authors of fiction—for months, and it hasn’t been pretty. While perhaps the highest-profile writer Turkey has imprisoned, novelist Aslı Erdoğan, was released last month, many more remain behind bars.
Writing in The Bookseller, Katherine Cowdrey quoted PEN International president Jennifer Clement as saying, “Freedom of expression is protected both by Turkey’s constitution and by international law. President Erdoğan’s ongoing campaign to muzzle all dissident voices in Turkey must be met with resistance. That is why we are proud to be here today, figures from across PEN’s global community, standing in active and public solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Turkey.”
Signatories to the letter include Elfriede Jelinek, Ai Weiwei, John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Mario Vargas Llosa, Salman Rushdie, Tariq Ali, JM Coetzee, Elena Poniatowska, Adonis, Jonathan Franzen, and many others.