Pen America, affiliated with the International Pen Writers Association, has published the 2021 Freedom to Write report. Turkey is one of the five countries in the world where the largest number of writers, academics and critical thinkers are imprisoned, the NDA announced.
During 2021, according to data collected for the Freedom to Write Index, at least 277 writers, academics, and critical thinkers in 36 countries were unjustly detained or imprisoned due to their writings.
In the 2021 Freedom to Write report published by Pen America, Turkey ranked 5th with 18 writers under arrest, behind China, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Iran.
In the evaluation section of the report, it was stated that Turkey’s 2-digit ranking decline compared to last year was satisfactory, while other common threats such as long periods of detention, physical attacks on authors and prolonged trials continued in Turkey. The report also documented threats and physical attacks against writers in exile. The murder lists for Turkish journalists and intellectuals seized by the German police was cited as an example of this. In the PEN report, 25 writers and critical thinkers were detained in Turkey last year, while the figure was announced as 18 this year.
The following are the prominent topics related to Turkey in the report;
A large part of the writers imprisoned in Turkey in 2021 composes of academics and writers who were arrested after the still controversial coup attempt of July 15.
A leaked government document from May 2021 included a list of journalists imprisoned in the country during the year, although the Turkish government denied that not a single journalist was arrested for their writings or opinions. Former Bugün newspaper columnist Gültekin Avcı sentenced to life imprisonment in 2020 and Zaman newspaper columnists including Ali Ünal are still in prison. Some journalists, including Emre Soncan and Hanım Büşra Erdal, were released after completing their sentences in 2021.
The PEN Report also included businessman and publisher Osman Kavala. It was emphasized that Kavala, who has been detained since 2017, was not released despite the decisions of the ECHR and the Council of Europe.
According to the Pen America report, in which 277 writers, academics and critical thinkers are in prison, the top ten countries in the world ranking are as follows:
2. Saudi Arabia