September 12, 2016

Stand with Aslı Erdoğan


Aslı Erdoğan. Photo via

Aslı Erdoğan. Photo via

Earlier this month, we covered the story of Aslı Erdoğan, an acclaimed Turkish novelist who says she is being held by the Turkish government on trumped-up, vague charges, under appalling conditions that include being forced to sleep on a urine-soaked mattress and being denied access to vital medical treatment and food suitable for a diabetic.

Now an international solidarity campaign on Erdoğan’s behalf is taking shape. Spearheading the movement is Amy Spangler, who translated Erdoğan’s novel The City in Crimson Cloak for Soft Skull Press a few years ago and is one of the directors of AnatoliaLit, a literary agency based in Istanbul. A letter Spangler has been circulating reads:

You may have heard about Aslı Erdoğan’s imprisonment. I have known and admired her for over a decade, and happened to have the honor of translating one of her novels into English several years ago. I can personally vouch for her as an author, an artist, and an outspoken advocate for peace.

Aslı’s work has been published in 15 languages and she has been named as one of the most important fifty writers in the world in the future by Lire magazine. She now finds herself imprisoned due to claims that she is affiliated with the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party), which is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and many other states. None of her readers or friends believe this to be true, as she has consistently and tirelessly been a voice for peace in Turkey. Her only “crime” has been that she has used her “freedom of speech” to attract attention to injustice, because her conscience will not allow her to remain silent.

An appeal for her release was rejected by the courts earlier this week, and it is said that she is not being provided medication that she needs, and that she is also being subjected to inhumane conditions in prison.

Several campaigns have been started to spread the word about Aslı’s arrest and call for her release. As part of one campaign, artists, writers, journalists, and prominent individuals from all walks of life have been holding up a sign that says in Turkish, “Aslı Erdoğan içerideyse, hiçbirimiz dışarıda değiliz,” which translates as, “If Aslı Erdoğan is in jail, none of us is out.” You can see some examples in this link:

The campaign is now being taken international, and Spangler is asking writers and artists around the world to send pictures of themselves holding up signs with the message “If Aslı Erdoğan is in jail, none of us is out” written in Turkish, English, or any other language. You can get in touch with AnatoliaLit here, or tweet them at @Anatolialit.

Spangler’s letter also contained links to a few worthwhile stories about Erdoğan: