According to the German Federal Foreign Office, 61 German citizens are imprisoned in various prisons in Turkey and 58 German citizens are not allowed to return to Germany due to a ban on traveling abroad, Yeni Özgür Politika reports.
Submitting a petition to the German government to respond to this situation, the Left Party’s MP for Baden-Württemberg, Gökay Akbulut, raised this issue to the agenda of the German authorities.
“The Federal Government should not accept the imprisonment of their own citizens and the ban on their travelling abroad. As long as Turkey does not comply with the law, the German government should limit its cooperation with Ankara,” Akbulut said.
Akbulut, in her petition, asked the German government for the names of all those German citizens who are currently behind bars in Turkey and the charges they have been accused of.
“From our previous experiences,” she noted, “we know it well that many people were jailed because of their posts on social media criticising [President] Erdoğan. Such arbitrary prosecutions and detentions cannot be accepted.”
Akbulut shared information that many people who live in Germany and who are residents in Germany applied to her party due to concern that their relatives have been questionably jailed in Turkey.
“The members of families of those jailed in Turkey contact us. We do what the Federal Government does not and try to assist these people whose rights have been abused. We want the Federal Government to issue a statement about the issue.”
She criticised the Turkish authorities for its “hostage” policies that were being applied on political individuals in the form of jailing them on political grounds. “Those German citizens who committed no crime should be immediately released and this should not be a question of ‘bargaining’ with Erdoğan. If they make a ‘bargain’ with Erdoğan, they will only release few, but then again, take more people as hostages.”
Journalist Adil Demirci was one of those who was jailed in Turkish prisons: he spent 10 months in jail in 2018 on charges of “terrorism” and he was banned from travelling to Germany for a while, even after he was released.
Demirci is currently a campaigner of the “Stimmen der Solidarität – Voices of Solidarity” group, which organises weekly protests in Cologne.
“The current situation in Turkey is devastating. Countless German citizens, journalists, academics and opposition activists are unjustly imprisoned in Turkish jails. In the end, we can even say that the situation for German citizens, among others, as well as for all other critics of the Turkish government is clearly deteriorating.
“Therefore, after the release of Adil Demirci, we have decided that we will use the experience gained during the period of solidarity work to continue to lead against the arbitrariness and inhumane policies of the Turkish government,” Voices of Solidarity stated. Its official website can be accessed via this link.
Demirci’s book on his days in prison, entitled ‘Cell B28 – In Istanbul as a Political Hostage’ (‘Zelle B-28-Als politische Geisel in İstanbul’) was released in July.
Currently living in Cologne, Demirci also participates in the solidarity campaigns. “We published this book to increase solidarity which was so well organised in Cologne,” he said.
Clarifying that his trial still continues in Turkey, he said, “I was able to return, but there are 22 other people also charged in my case. Most of them had to stay there and they are held as hostages, with this ban on travelling abroad. They are in a dire situation. Our struggle for them continues.”
Demirci states that he knows that some people who travelled from Germany to Turkey face charges because they are members of some Kurdish institutions: “I know there are three people who travelled from Cologne to Turkey and their passports have been confiscated there, with a ban also on them travelling abroad. They are facing trials on grounds that they are members of some Kurdish institutions. Their families do not want to announce their names as they are awaiting trial now.”
Demirci made reference to Mahmut Güneş’s case: “His family organised a campaign for him. Güneş was arrested as he entered Turkey due to his posts on social media. He has been imprisoned in Kayseri Prison for two years.”
There is also the case of Patrick Kraiker, who was accused of being a member of the People’s Defence Units (YPG), noted Demirci: “Patrick Kraiker is still in Istanbul Maltepe Prison on the charge of being a member of the YPG. In the first hearing of his trial, he was sentenced to six years and six months in prison. Although some German politicians considered his case, their support for him has been very weak.”