Exiled novelist Erdoğan pessimistic about ever returning to Turkey

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“The hope of being able to return to Turkey is getting dimmer,” says Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, who chose to live in self-imposed exile after being incarcerated for four months in her country on terrorism charges.

“Realistically, I should plan to stay abroad for at least the next 10 years. There are very severe penalties for those people who are on trial in Turkey these days,” she said in reference to her ongoing trial.

“The situation is very sad, much sadder than what the German press reflects.”

Speaking to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Wednesday, Erdoğan drew a bleak picture of Turkey’s future, although the opposition parties are ecstatic after local election victories against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party.

Erdoğan was arrested in August 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda for her role as a symbolic one-day editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem, a now-closed-down Kurdish daily, in support of the newspaper, which was the subject of numerous prosecutions.

“There are more than 300,000 people in prison at the moment. When I was arrested there were 160,000,” she said.

“Turkey is breaking one record after another: 170 journalists are in prison, many members and officials of the Kurdish party have been imprisoned. They are building new prisons; by 2021 the capacity is to increase to half a million,” she added.

After being released pending trial in December 2016, Erdoğan went to Germany, where she has been living ever since.

“For me, life here is a transition, a bridge. I have not settled here. … I am trying not to take too firm a root here in order to be ready to pack my suitcase again. It is not easy to live like this,” she said.

Erdoğan’s two books, “Kırmızı Pelerinli Kent” (The City in Crimson Cloak) and “Taş Bina ve Diğerleri” (The Stone Building and Other Places) were translated into English, and she received the 2018 Simone de Beauvoir Prize, an award for human rights activists fighting for women’s freedoms.

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