German Cultural Leaders Launch Call for Release of Jailed Artists in Turkey
Spurred on by an initiative launched by the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, the leaders of numerous German cultural institutions are responding to the ongoing crisis in Turkey.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has in fact received an open letter, signed on behalf of some of Germany’s most important cultural institutions, imploring her to work towards the immediate release of jailed artists in Turkey.
The situation in Turkey has worsened increasingly since the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Artists, newspaper cartoonists and cultural figures were among the 35,000 people who have been detained as part of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown. Last week, a fundamentalist group attempted to destroy an artwork at Contemporary Istanbul
in the latest attack on artists and galleries.
In response the the increasingly unstable political situation, the open letter urges the German Government “to act as quickly as possible to counter this horrific development in Turkey with diplomacy and political pressure.” The letter went on to state: “We will underline our solidarity with those detained and persecuted through invitations, joint art projects, and debate panels which we will integrate into the programming [of the respective cultural institutions].”
The signatories include the directors of the Capital Cultural Fund, the artist residency program of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Services), and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, as well as theater houses, Berlin’s literature festival, and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Alongside the open letter, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, PEN Centre Germany, and Reporters Without Borders Germany have collectively launched a change.org petition
demanding freedom of expression, information and press in Turkey.
Germany, which is home to around 3 million residents with Turkish roots, has a tenuous diplomatic relationship with Turkey at present. In the most recent development, Turkey accused Germany of harbouring Kurdish terrorists. In this climate, it is unclear if or how the German government will respond to the urgent calls from the country’s most prominent cultural leaders.