On Christmas Eve three years ago the Turkish-Kurdish writer and lawyer Muharrem Erbey was arrested in his home on a suspicion of ‘terrorism.’ Three years later he is still in prison. The court proceedings held with him and his fellow defendants are continuously being interrupted since they are demanding defence in their own language Kurdish. Erbey is far from alone in this respect—Turkey has now passed Iran as the country that has the most journalists and writers imprisoned.
Only a few years ago the situation in Turkey was quite different. Turkey was busy negotiating with the EU for a closer relationship and a future membership and the AKP government passed several reforms that opened up society. Kurdish, for example, was allowed in schools and in television broadcasts. Some people even meant that Turkey was in the process of shaking off the remainders of the dictatorial regime that had been the result of the coup in the 80s.
But since this time of change, the EU has been weakened by an economic crisis and Turkey’s role in the region has shifted due to the vicious war in the neighbouring Syria. However, neither the one nor the other is an excuse to imprison more and more opponents of the regime and other oppositional writers in the country.