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Turkish Novelist Asli Erdogan: “Lives Sacrificed for the Survival of Violence Are Our Destiny”

Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, who was tried with an aggravated life sentence due to her membership on the Editorial Board of Özgür Gündem Daily and spent four months in prison, later acquitted after years, has been living in exile in Germany for six years. Aslı Erdoğan, who has been experiencing serious health problems for a long time, made statements about her experiences.

Speaking to Candan Yıldız from T24, Aslı Erdoğan described her life in exile for six years as follows: “Exile, once again… A heavy, painful descent, an elongation in the depths of the unknown… A thinly veiled state of non-existence… To hang in a limbo, suspended between a past and a future, both equally unattainable… To linger in a limbo, perhaps established by the goodwill of strangers…”

Aslı Erdoğan stated that personal wounds haven’t healed because of the “constant” oppression in Turkey, explaining, “A door was opened, and I slipped through it; now many of my friends and acquaintances are either in prison or on trial… What they endure also deepens my wounds…”

Lives Sacrificed for the Survival of Violence Are Our Destiny

Aslı Erdoğan, who stated that she has been writing about violence, trauma, wounds, and fragmentation for 20 years, said, “In other words, I have been writing for twenty years, drawing circles around the ‘unspeakable.’ Violence does not only erase by killing. Sometimes it keeps alive, like a ‘rigor mortis,’ condemning to decay by keeping the body in a state of stiffness… It silences, makes mute, numbs, dehumanizes. Both individuals and societies… The real ‘trauma’ is the fragmentation within oneself, being disconnected from one’s own truth… Our stories, which are built on personal and collective traumas passed down from generation to generation, in geographies where the state’s violence is unrestrained – like ours – make up our destiny, the lives sacrificed for the survival of violence are our destiny,” she said.

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“In the Land of ‘Great Fear,’ Everyone’s Lives Turn into Hell”

As a writer who mostly writes about rights, Aslı Erdoğan evaluated “rights in Turkey” as follows: “I lived through the 70s and the 80s… I was five years old during my first police raid (1972), and I used to have nightmares of torture when I woke up terrified… (I still do) Sometimes children feel deeper what adults cannot express… In the first half of the 90s, I was abroad, two years in Geneva, two years in Rio de Janeiro. I started writing columns during that period, and I learned more or less from documents and testimonies, and the more I learned, the more horrified I became. Of course, there are many things I do not know, understand, or feel about all these periods. Many people who practiced law in the 80s and 90s say they did not encounter as much lawlessness as today. Unfortunately, my intuition is in line with this, I think that the entire legal system has collapsed, that dissenting voices are ruthlessly silenced, and that the remnants of democracy have been erased with lightning speed. Indispensable concepts such as freedom of thought, social justice, secularism, and human rights have been completely hollowed out. Our human rights record is worse than many African countries; it is crawling on the ground. In the ‘Land of Great Fear,’ the lives of women, LGBTI individuals, and anyone who wants to be free turn into hell. My real concern is that we may evolve into an irreversible point, into a totalitarian regime…”

“Wounds Do Not Heal While Oppression Continues”

Aslı Erdoğan stated that her wounds from the prison process are still open and that they ache more as they cool down. Erdoğan said, “Every injustice I face, every humiliation, makes it bleed again.”

Erdoğan continued, “My nightmares are still ongoing, post-traumatic nightmares where I run away from the police and the court, waking up drenched in sweat… (I still have them) To some extent, I was lucky; a door was opened, and I slipped through it; now many of my friends and acquaintances are either in prison or on trial… What they endure also deepens my wounds… The Gezi trial, the trials against HDP members, the experiences of my cellmates… Wounds do not learn to scab while oppression continues. Being arrested with the demand for an aggravated life sentence is truly a terrible feeling; even if you are acquitted, you cannot find solace in anything, you cannot trust anything, especially when hundreds of familiar and unfamiliar people are sentenced to very heavy penalties… I cannot learn to scab my wounds while oppression continues for no reason. It’s really a terrible feeling to be arrested with the demand for an aggravated life sentence; even if you are acquitted, you cannot find solace in anything, you cannot trust anything, especially when hundreds of familiar and unfamiliar people are sentenced to very heavy penalties…”

“Who can sing a lullaby when a knife is at their throat?”

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