Difference between jail and outside conditions narrowing in Turkey: Aslı Erdoğan

Difference between jail and outside conditions narrowing in Turkey: Aslı Erdoğan

Difference between jail and outside conditions narrowing in Turkey: Aslı Erdoğan

AP photo

The difference in Turkey between life in jail and life outside are gradually decreasing, one of the country’s most prominent novelists said upon her release, after being held in prison for 132 days. 

“The difference between jail and outside conditions in Turkey is gradually narrowing in Turkey,” Aslı Erdoğan said in front of the courthouse after being released on Dec. 29, adding that there is “no guarantee that I won’t go back to jail tomorrow.”

“Events outside have a negative impact inside [jail]. There is no guarantee that you will go home today and won’t come back tomorrow,” she said. 

Commenting on the Dec. 29 detention of prominent Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık, Erdoğan said she “wasn’t surprised.” 

“I wasn’t surprised that Ahmet Şık was detained. Aysel Tuğluk was also arrested in the morning. I have a bad feeling that we will be going in and out of jail every day and every moment,” she said, referring to the arrest of the deputy leader of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Asked about jail conditions, Erdoğan said many things were hardened after the state of emergency declared after the July 15 failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). 

“There is a pressure that the state of emergency brings. People arrested only have the right to make one phone call every two weeks. You can only meet your first degree relatives. If you are not from a classic Turkish family, the burden falls on your mother,” she added. 

 “[While in jail] I particularly missed the sea and dancing. I missed ballet and classical music,” she said. 
Asked about her fragile health condition, Erdoğan said she originally did not think she would be able to endure such a long time in jail. 

“I endured. A weird power came to me. But of course I need to get checked [by a doctor] after release,” she added. 

Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay, an internationally prominent linguist who has also made widely praised translations of Western novels into Turkish, were among journalists and intellectuals tried in one of the cases into Özgür Gündem, a daily that was closed over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Alpay has been held behind bars for 120 days.

Erdoğan and Alpay were released on probation on Dec. 29 after being arrested on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” for Özgür Gündem, which was closed in August on terrorism charges.

Release decisions were issued for Erdoğan, Alpay, former Özgür Gündem co-editor-in-chief Eren Keskin, writers Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu, license holder Kemal Sancılı and arrested News Editor Zana (Bilir) Kaya. 

Acting news editor İnan Kızılkaya, who is also under arrest in the case, was not released.