Writer Dogan Akhanli jailed in Turkey
Writer Dogan Akhanli, born 1957 in Savsat district (Artvin), since 2001 German citizen living in Cologne was detained on arrival at Istanbul Airport on 10 August 2010. Three appeals against the arrest warrant were turned down. At the end of August he was imprisoned in Tekirdag F-type Prison. After the first hearing on 8 December 2010 he was released from prison. The next hearing was scheduled for March 2011.
According to reports in the daily Radikal of 30.08.2010 he was allegedly one of three armed men trying to rob an exchange office in Tahtakale quarter of Istanbul on 20.10.1989. Besides the owner Yaşar Tutum his sons Mustafa and Ünay quarrelled with the attackers so that they fled. During escape one of them shot and killed Yaşar Tutum. In a bag that the robbers left behind, three photographs and documents were found.
Only in 1992 it was discovered that these things belonged to Mehmet Fatih Çalışkan working as director of finances in a company. He told the police that he had prepared the documents on order of Hamza Kopan, who at the same time was charged with leading membership in a left-wing organization. In the statement to the police, allegedly extracted under torture, Hamza Kopan said that he had given a bag to Doğan Akhanlı. He may have know that Dogan Akhanli was in Germany and could not be arrested. In the ensuing court case the charges against Dogan Akhanli were separated in 1994. The trial against Hamza Kopan ended in acquittal.
Besides the testimony of Hamza Kopan the police also had Mustafa Tutum, one of the victim's sons identify Dogan Akhanli by a photograph taken in prison in 1986. After Dogan Akhanli's return to Turkey the family found Mustafa Tutum and on 13 August 2010 he testified to the police that the could not recognize the person on the photograph to be one of the attackers. Doğan Akhanlı's lawyer, Haydar Erol managed to get a copy of this statement and filed another appeal against the arrest warrant. This appeal was turned down on 23 August 2010. Meanwhile the public prosecutor in Istanbul had ordered Akhanli's transfer to Tekirdag on 20 August 2010. Since Doğan Akhanlı is a German citizen all visits and even phone calls need the permission of the Justice Ministry in Ankara.
The political past
Following the military coup of 1980 Dogan Akhanli went underground. According to a report in the German daily TAZ of 26.08.2010 he was a member of the Albania orientated TDKP when he was a student at Karadeniz University. In 1984 he, his wife and his 16 months' old son were detained in Izmir, tortured over 10 days and stayed in a military prison in Istanbul between 1985 and 1987. In 1991 he fled to Germany and was give refugee status. After Turkey had deprived him of his citizenship he became a German citizen in 2001.
Akhanli has written novels and essays, he has given interviews and participated in projects on dealing with violence in history and the establishment of human rights. The Federal Foundation for "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" has supported his projects and the Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance has presented an award. His novel Madonna'nin Son Hayali (Last Fantasy of Madonna, 2005) was chosen as one of the 10 best novels in Turkish. The daily "Hürriyet" gave him the prize for literature in 2009. Dogan Akhanli has also been busy to clarify the murder of Hrant Dink and to keep up the memory of this Armenian journalist.
Dogan Akhanli's friends have mainly gathered around the Cultural Forum Turkey-Germany and the Association of Research International e.V. In Turkey human rights activist Şaban Dayanan started an initiative "Freedom for Doğan Akhanlı". People with an account of Facebook (and preferably) knowledge of either Turkish or German can participate in this initiative. The organization medico international launched an appeal with addresses to send petitions (in German)
At the end of September 2010 Dogan Akhanli was still held in Tekidag F-type Prison. On 7 September 2010 the daily Milliyet presented details of an indictment against Erdogan Akhanli.
In the 3-page indictment (of 25 August 2010, DTFDemocratic Turkey Forum ) prosecutor Hüseyin Ayar accused Akhanlı of being a leading member of the organization People's Liberation Party of Turkey - Union of Re-Construction - People's Liberation Forces (TKP-YKB-HKB, Türkiye Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Yeniden Kuruluş Birliği- Halk Kurtuluş Güçleri) and having participated in the attack on the exchange office on 20 October 1989 that resulted in the death of its owner. The indictment quotes statements of Hamza Kopal and Mehmet Fatih Çalışkan, who had been detained in 1992. The prosecutor asked for aggravated life imprisonment for the violent attempt to overthrow the Constitutional order.
The daily Hürriyet of 1 September 2010 quoted (in English) from the indictment and presented some contradiction as presented by Akhanli's friends. The article stated inter alias: "Two of the victim’s sons, however, presented a signed declaration at the courthouse after the first hearing, saying Akhanlı was not their father’s killer and that they had not identified him as the perpetrator in the past. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review after the Aug. 27 hearing, Akhanlı’s friend, writer Selami Gürel, said he was extremely distressed by the charges. Turkish Human Rights Association founder Ragıp Zarakolu said they thought Akhanlı was still under arrest because of his close interest in the Armenian issue."
The first hearing is going to be conducted at Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 11 on 8 December 2010.
Reports in English
- 25.08.2010 Bianet "Release Journalist Zengin and Writer Akhanlı"
- 21.08.2010 The Armenian Weekly "Writer, Activist Akhanli Arrested at Istanbul Airport" translation of a German press statement from the association recherche international
- 23.08.2010 Azbarez Post similar to the Armenian Weekly
Reports in Turkish
- 30.08.2010 Article in the daily Radikal
- 30.08.2010 Article in the daily Taraf
- 25.08.2010 Press conference in Istanbul Text from Ragip Zarakolu and Selami Gürel
- ↑ See the article in Bianet of 8 December 2010
- ↑ In Tekirdag two prison of the F-type exist. One the website of Tekirdag F-type Prison 2 in Turkish some pictures of the interior can be found.
- ↑ There are some recent reports on prison conditions, including torture. One is from the Union of Bara Association in Turkey (TTB) dated 06.01.2010 and another one is from the Association of Contemporary Jurists, Istanbul branch dated 05.07.2010
- ↑ For general information on F-type Prison see the relevant page in Wikipedia
- ↑ Information in German on the TDKP can be found at http://ob.nubati.net/wiki/TDKP in English see the article in Wikipedia or the few pages in English of the party website (calling themselves "Organization for Rebuilding")
- ↑ Quoted according to an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung of 16 August 2010
- ↑ For further information see the German Wikipedia or the Turkish Wikipedia on Dogan Akhanli
- ↑ You can find links to sources in different languages as a collection of press articles on the imprisonment of Dogan Akhanli
- ↑ See an article in the Independent Communication Network BIA of 25 September 2010