Prominent thinkers urge Turkey to end writers’ ‘witch hunt’
ISTANBULAbout 40 prominent academics and authors from around the world are urging Turkey’s government to end what they say is the persecution of the country’s own writers and professors voicing a differing point of view.
In an open letter released on Sept. 11, academics and authors including Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and British Booker Prize winner John Berger called on supporters to protest what they said is the Turkish government’s “vendetta” against its brightest thinkers.
They said the failed July 15 coup shouldn’t be used as a pretext for a “McCarthy-style witch hunt.”
They said particularly disturbing was the detention of novelist Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet Altan, an economics professor, for allegedly transitting subliminal messages to rally coup supporters on a television show the night before the coup attempt.
“We as writers, academics and defenders of freedom of expression are particularly disturbed to see colleagues we know and respect being imprisoned under emergency regulations,” the letter read.
“Journalists such as Şahin Alpay and Nazlı Ilıcak and the novelist Aslı Erdoğan have been outspoken defenders of democracy and opponents of militarism and tyranny of any sort.
“We therefore call upon the Turkish government to cease its persecution of prominent writers and to speed the release of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan as well as so many of their colleagues wrongly accused.”