Arrest of our colleague Doğan Akhanlı

It is with great concern that we have learned that our colleague, the writer Doğan Akhanlı, was arrested in Granada, Spain, in the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. According to officially confirmed information, the Spanish police were responding to an international emergency note issued by Interpol and initiated by Turkey.

Akhanlı and his partner, Perihan Zeran, had been on vacation in Granada since Aug. 16, 2017. He was found in the hotel by the police and arrested. In the evening he was transferred to Madrid, where he was brought before the magistrate early on 20.08.2017. The latter decided to release him on conditions (confiscation of his passport, no leaving the country’s borders, regular reporting to the Spanish authorities). His lawyer Ilias Uyar confirmed today that the German Embassy in Madrid and the German Foreign Office were immediately informed about the arrest. There is no confirmation yet whether consular care for the writer has been secured by the Spanish government. The Foreign Office has also already called on the Spanish government not to extradite Akhanlı to Turkey under any circumstances. What he is accused of is currently unclear.

The arrest warrant is clearly in abuse of rights!

We strongly protest against Doğan Akhanlı’s arrest and call on the Turkish government to immediately drop the arrest warrant against Akhanlı, and on the Spanish government to immediately release him completely! The German government must immediately provide consular assistance on the ground. In the current events we see threatening developments and the continuation of a long historical practice of human rights violations! An extradition to Turkey is to be prevented in any case! We call on the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Government and thus all parliamentarians of the Bundestag to work towards the prevention of the extradition and the complete release as well as for the release of all unjustly imprisoned journalists and civilians in Turkey, because the vision of a free and democratic coexistence needs a global and collective practice.


Akhanlı is a member of the international writers’ association PEN and is committed in his literature to coming to terms with the genocide of the Armenians in Turkey. His writing is informed by many local and historical experiences of violence and annihilation. The Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the war against Kurds, the NSU terror and racism against migrants in Germany, as well as the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama in Namibia have all led Akhanlı to co-develop a “transnational culture of remembrance that could first create a global democratic humanism,” according to our friend and colleague Doğan.

Doğan Akhanlı has lived in Germany since fleeing Turkey in 1991. He is exclusively a German citizen. In 1991, he fled as an oppositional democratic activist who worked and published on the Armenian Genocide and whose life was therefore threatened in Turkey. Since then, he has not been able to enter Turkey. To this day, the Turkish government does not recognize the genocide in the Ottoman Empire with up to 1.5 million dead and criminalizes any educational work on its own crime. Akhanlı has repeatedly criticized the Turkish government in this context. Most recently in June 2016, when the Bundestag unanimously passed its resolution on the Armenian genocide. Erdoğan as well as other nationalists launched a diplomatic counter-attack and announced an action plan with which they would take revenge on the Bundestag because of the resolution.

Akhanlı also works as a critical journalist on the repressive and anti-democratic developments in Turkey under Erdoğan’s government. Most recently, he stood on stage together with journalist Can Dündar, who fled Turkey at the beginning of 2017, under the motto “Freedom of the word is a universal right of humanity” in March at the WDR Funkhaus in Cologne and showed solidarity with the more than 160 other journalists in Turkey who have been imprisoned since the attempted coup. The occasion for the event was the imprisonment of Welt journalist Deniz Yücel, whom Erdoğan sees as “his personal prisoner.”

Erdoğan’s authoritarian policies, which violate all international and democratic law and establish an autocratic regime in Turkey, have long had an impact beyond Turkish national territory. On 04.08.2017, Hamza Yalçın, a critical journalist living in Sweden, was arrested by Interpol at the airport in Barcelona – also by red notice from Turkey. He has been awaiting trial in Spain ever since. The Turkish government is demanding Yalçın’s extradition to Turkey. For the popular lawyer in Spain, Baltasar Garzón, extradition is “unacceptable” due to state repression that violates human rights. The current detentions are no coincidence! Erdoğan has long influenced politics in Germany and now in Spain, seeking to extend his power beyond Turkey’s borders to crack down on voices disagreeable to him and critical of him around the world. In this way, he is implicating other EU countries, where European values and democratic citizenship rights should actually apply, in his repressive regime.

Critical journalists and democratic opponents of Erdoğan are now no longer safe from Turkish justice abroad! Erdoğan abuses international police cooperation agreements to detain critical journalists. The EU member states are watching or supporting him in this! We ask ourselves: How do the German government and the European Union justify this action against the background of their liberal state principles and citizens’ rights and the right to freedom of expression? Europe’s dependencies on Erdoğan must end immediately. First, the already ineffective, inhumane EU-Turkey refugee deal must be dissolved!

Our friend and colleague Doğan reminded us at the end of last year in his memorable speech ( commemorating the racist firebombing in Mölln in 1992 that when we remember Mölln, we are not only remembering the attack in Mölln, but we are remembering “the history of violence here and in other countries. Therefore, we must create a transnational memory space and make it larger and more conspicuous (…) When the prophets of destruction and their accomplices announce that they are back, we must stand up, we who are the majority, and say: We are there too!”

That is why we say: We are there and we are everywhere! Because politics against authoritarian regimes and anti-democratic politics in times of globalization and migration is global politics and needs transnational solidarity!

Support the release and prevention of Doğan Akhanlıs extradition and write mails to the following eMail addresses:

Human Rights Commissioner of the Federal Foreign Office, Ms. Kofler –

Ministry of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany –

Spanish Embassy in Berlin –

Letters in Spanish can be sent to the Spanish Ministry of Justice –