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Excerpts from PEN International Women Writers Committee Statement on Turkey

February, 2017

Since July 15, 2016, when there was an attempted coup d’état in Turkey, many aspects of freedom of expression have been limited, cut off or abolished.

News agencies, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, magazines and publishers have been shut down. 4,464 academics have lost their jobs.

Many women journalists and academics are among those who have lost their jobs, been detained, called to court, sentenced, or fined. This includes some very high-profile women writers such as Asli Erdogan Displaying asli erdogan.jpg(no relation to the president), who spent 132 days in jail in Istanbul for being listed as a consultant to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

Most of the journalists, academics and writers targeted have nothing to do with the coup attempt. The government doesn’t even allege that they do. They wrote something pro-Kurdish, criticized the government or just signed a declaration stating that they want peace.

Another woman writer, the sociologist Pinar Selek Displaying pinar selek.jpg, who has been acquitted by the courts many times, recently has had the government’s case against her renewed. The government continues to ask for a life sentence, claiming that she set a bomb in a market, though all expert sources say the explosion was caused by a gas leak. However, Pinar Selek is a supporter of Kurdish people.

Kurdish writers and those who work in media in the Kurdish area are in even worse shape. All schools teaching the Kurdish language have been closed. Christian churches, including Surp Giragos, the newly-restored Armenian church in Diyarbakir, have been confiscated by the government in the wave of growing Islamism. Government forces raided the offices of Kurdish PEN, destroying their equipment and files.

Many Kurdish writers have been detained. Mujgan Ekîn Displaying mujgan ekin.jpg, a journalist, editor and presenter for GUN TV in Diyarbakir, was taken away in October 2016. Though witnesses saw her abducted by the police, the government consistently denied all knowledge of her whereabouts. She was found two months later . She had been tortured and taken to Jerablus, an area of Syria under Turkish control.

PEN International, PEN Turkey and Kurdish PEN have all been working constantly to try to preserve or restore freedom of expression. This month a large international mission of PEN delegates went to Turkey to try to help. However the situation continues to worsen.

The PEN International Women Writers Committee realizes that there are freedom of expression and human rights crises going on in many other places, such as the alarming situations presently unfolding in the United States and in the Philippines. They deserve attention too. At this moment our interest is to support our Kurdish and Turkish colleagues, women writers who are trying to do their work in a dangerous and extremely challenging situation. We want to make sure that PIWWC members and supporters know about them.

 

30 Responses to Excerpts from PEN International Women Writers Committee Statement on Turkey

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