Doğan Akhanlı and the indivisibility of human rights

Doğan Akhanlı and the indivisibility of human rights

The writer Doğan Akhanlı, born in 1957 in Şavşat in the province of Artvin, is regarded in the western hemisphere as a true advocate of human rights, which he emphatically demands from the political rulers, probably also because of his own life experience in Turkey.

His publications often deal with individuals, but also with entire ethnic groups who have suffered injustice in the past and who have not experienced justice to this day, including the question of the persecution of the Armenians. In his novels, essays and interviews, as well as in various projects, Doğan Akhanlı repeatedly advocates dealing truthfully with historical violence and for the indivisibility of human rights. So it's no wonder that Doğan Akhanlı hasn't just made friends.

Upon entering Turkey on August 10, 2010, Doğan Akhanlı was arrested for alleged involvement in a 1989 robbery at a money exchange office in Istanbul that resulted in death. The arrest alone caused a lot of excitement in the media. After four months in custody, Akhanlı was surprisingly released; he had always called the charges politically motivated and fabricated by law enforcement. In other articles we reported on the length of possible pre-trial detention in Turkey, which can be immeasurably long, especially for people suspected of being terrorists, which is why the EU has been calling for new regulations and judicial reform for years.

The process was "obviously politically motivated from the start"

doğan akhanlı 1During his absence, Doğan Akhanlı had left for Germany in the meantime, and the trial continued. On October 12, 2011, Akhanlı was acquitted for lack of evidence. How could that be, if there was a four-month pre-trial detention beforehand? During the trial, it turned out that two key witnesses had withdrawn their incriminating testimonies, as they had only come about as a result of pressure exerted by the police!

The acquittal was particularly welcomed by the two chairmen of the Bündniss 90/Die Grünen party, Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir, on the grounds that the trial was "obviously politically motivated from the start". At the time, Özdemir even asked the Turkish authorities to lift the entry ban for Akhanlı, who lives in Cologne.

In April 2013, the Istanbul Court of Cassation overturned the acquittal and at the same time issued an international arrest warrant. The new first day of the trial was scheduled for October 4th, but was postponed to December 20th.

"I choose to be free from this process," said the writer at a public breakfast with around 70 supporters on Friday in Ehrenfeld. He only has one life and is not available for a month-long show trial in Turkey. Due to Doğan Akhanlı's German citizenship, he will not be extradited to Turkey, despite the existing international arrest warrant.

Doğan Akhanlı literally:

doğan akhanlı 3"After the annulment of my acquittal by the Court of Cassation in Ankara, the proceedings against me took on an irremediable Kafkaesque character.

The same Court of Cassation, which found no organization behind the murder of Hrant Dink, again accuses me of being under the alias "DOĞAN K." been the head of a terrorist organization and expected me to orchestrate my "execution" together with the prosecutors.

As a writer, I know the frightening adaptability and the tragic end of Josef K., the protagonist of Kafka's novel "The Trial". Therefore, on December 8, 2010, the first day of the trial against me, I escaped the Kafkaesque space that the Turkish judiciary had bricked up for me with my silence and protected by public solidarity.

Now the court wants to drag me back into this room with all its might. I resist, I will not return. My silence will continue to apply to the Turkish judiciary. I'm not Kafka's character who, at the end of her "trial" "voluntarily" allowed himself to be executed with a butcher's knife and yet is brought back to life by every reader. Unlike a character in a novel, I only have one life. And I don't want to spend this life in a Kafkaesque farce.

I get off. I will no longer appear before the Turkish judiciary, not voluntarily, not forced. I take the freedom that she wants to deny me. I will be free of my own free will.

I'm also doing this because "my" trial, from a human rights and political point of view, is part of the numerous unjust trials that are opened, carried out and ended in Turkey with noisy arbitrariness and arrogance. With my decision to refuse this procedure, I know that I am on the side of those who, in their own way, stand up to the hopelessly unlawful Turkish judiciary."

doğan akhanlı 2 osman okkan duendarThe writer Doğan Akhanlı, who has lived in Cologne since 1992, came into conflict with the authorities early on. He was imprisoned for the first time in 1975 for buying a left-leaning magazine, something that can hardly be understood today. Born in the far north-east of Turkey, Doğan Akhanlı moved to his brother in Istanbul at the age of 12 to continue his education. The experience with the first imprisonment was probably a very decisive point for getting involved politically. After the military coup that took place in 1980, he went underground, but was arrested again. From 1985 to 1987 he was a political prisoner in the Istanbul Military Prison. In 1991 he was able to flee to Germany, where he then began his career as a writer.

Doğan Akhanlı is a member of the international writers' association PEN, his projects have been funded by the Federal Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, among others, and most recently received an award from the "Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance" in 2009. Doğan Akhanlı is also an employee of the non-profit association "Recherche International". The association primarily deals with the education-oriented processing of genocidal experiences of violence. He is the initiator of the Raphael Lemkin Library in Cologne. His civil society commitment focuses on commemorating and coming to terms with genocides of the 20th century, such as the Armenian genocide and its victims.

Works by Dogan Akhanli

In 1998/99 the trilogy “Kayıp Denizler” (The Vanished Seas) was published in Turkish. The first two volumes are called Denizi Beklerken (Waiting for the Sea) and Gelincik Tarlası (The Poppy Field). The last volume "Kıyamet Günü Yargıçları" (The Judges of the Last Judgment) deals with the Armenian genocide and the state suppression and persecution of the recognition of the genocide in the Republic of Turkey. The (fictitious) fates of some young people who are friends with each other, which are told in the previous volumes, illuminate the political developments in Turkey between the 1970s and 1990s.

The novel "Madonna'nın Son Hayali" (The Last Dream of the Madonna), published in 2005, tells about the case of 'Struma', a ship carrying over 700 Jewish refugees that was sunk in the Black Sea in 1942. The book was ranked among the top ten novels of 2005 by Turkish critics and writers. In 2009 Babasız günler (Days Without a Father) was released, followed by Fasıl in late 2010.

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