WASHINGTON, D.C. / ANKARA — Turkey was among the top three imprisoners of intellectuals globally in 2020, unchanged from the previous year, according to PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index. PEN America is affiliated with PEN International, a non-profit aimed at promoting literature and freedom of expression worldwide.
The report comes against the backdrop of increased security repression and arrests of all segments of society under the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In its report, the PEN America stated that at least 25 writers, academics, and intellectuals had been arrested in Turkey and that there had been no improvement in freedom of expression in the country.
The report also cited several violations of the Turkish government, including the arrest of Shabnim Koror Fengangi, president of the Turkish Doctors’ Union, after she criticized the government’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as ongoing investigations against the band Eurom.
The Turkish government under Erdogan has enacted new laws that further restrict freedom of expression in addition to the overly broad application of the country’s anti-terrorism laws.