As David Kay, the UN Special rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, is visiting Turkey this week, Hyestart urged him to call for Asli Erdogan's immediate release.
Dear Mr. Kaye,
In view of your current country visit to Turkey, we, as an organization promoting cultural democracy in Armenia and the neighbouring countries, including Turkey, are taking this opportunity to urge you to call on the Turkish authorities to release the prominent Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan as soon as possible.
Ms. Erdoğan was arrested on 17 August 2016 regarding her role as a columnist and as a member of the Editorial Consultative Committee of the now closed, allegedly pro-Kurdish, Ozgür Gündem daily. According to the Prosecutor in charge of her case, four of her articles provide evidence of the crimes of “disrupting the unity and integrity of the State” and “being a member of an armed terrorist organization”, which is unsupported by the facts, as proved by Ms. Erdoğan's lawyer. On 5 September 2016, an Istanbul court rejected Ms. Erdoğan's appeal and she is still being detained. Ms. Erdoğan's health condition is fragile as she suffers from various chronic diseases. During the initial days of her detention, she was held in poor prison conditions and denied essential medication and water. Her detention conditions, although somewhat improved, are still of grave concern.
Although the four articles held against her may be perceived as offending the authorities, they should all be considered a legal and legitimate manifestation of Ms. Erdoğan 's right to freedom of opinion and expression under Article 10 of the ECHR to which Turkey is a party. Ms. Erdoğan did not in any way call for violence or praise violence or do propaganda for an armed organization. She merely shared her thoughts as a concerned citizen.
Aslı Erdoğan is a writer who has a stance against violence and who is domestically and internationally acclaimed for her work promoting democracy and human rights. Her articles and books have been translated into 17 languages and she is a prominent figure in world literature. Ms. Erdoğan has been very sensitive about human rights violations not just in Turkey but all around the world. She received a number of awards, both in Turkey and abroad.
Aslı Erdoğan’s letter to Swiss Radio and Television provides her own rebuttal of the charges held against her and her description of her arrest and detention. We should all read it. It is available here: http://www.srf.ch/news/international/vergesst-mich-nicht-und-meine-buecher-es-sind-meine-kinder.
Many freedom of expressions groups (including PEN International), both within and outside of Turkey, support the release of Ms. Aslı Erdoğan.
We appeal to you to call on the Turkish authorities to release Aslı Erdoğan as soon as possible.
We thank you sincerely for your consideration of this urgent appeal.