Award-winning author Asli Erdogan, who lives in Germany in self-imposed exile after brief imprisonment in Turkey, thinks that Turkey is descending toward fascism amid the breakdown of state institutions after the failed 2016 coup.
Referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s imprisonment and inhumane treatment of government critics, Erdogan said: “Maybe, it is really time to use the word “fascism” [for the Turkish regime].”
Erdogan, whose book titled “The Stone Building and Other Places” has been published in German, spoke at a book launch in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
The author was imprisoned after failed 2016 coup over charges of terrorism given her role in pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem, a regional newspaper known to have sympathy toward the cause of the Kurdish militants.
During the book launch, Erdogan conveyed her impression and fears of the newly emerging political reality in Turkey.
She commented on Ahmet Altan, a prominent journalist and novelist in Turkey who was given aggravated life sentence on coup-related charges and has been in jail for more than two years.
“At first, I thought they [the AK Party government] were bluffing, but they actually sentenced many people [to life in prison],” Erdogan said.
She added that jailed authors and journalists are lucky compared to lawyers, doctors, students and people in other professions in prison because they are able to make their voices heard.
A member of Ozgur Gundem daily’s advisory board, Erdogan was arrested in August 2016 on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization.”
The imprisonment took place after a court ordered the shutdown of the newspaper closed for allegations of disseminating propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has waged a war against the security forces in southeastern Turkey for decades in an effort to create self-rule.
Erdogan spent four and a half months in prison and then was released under a travel ban, which was lifted in June 2017. She traveled in September 2017 to receive Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize in Osnabruck, Germany and did not return to Turkey.
Erdogan and Altan were among those nearly 100,000 people who caught up in a wave of arrests under the country’s state of emergency rule implemented in the aftermath of the 2016 failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Her remarks sparked an impassioned debate on social media. There is wide disagreement among scholars over how to describe the new political regime in Turkey. According to Erdogan, it would not be an exaggeration to define the new political system in Ankara as a fascist regime. Still, the dispute lingers.