Turkey’s prize-winning author Aslı Erdoğan said during a live TV interview on France 24 TV channel that people in Turkey “are afraid of breathing, let along tweeting,” as thousands of university students in Turkey have been jailed over tweets across the country.

“The oppression is very strong. As it goes stronger and stronger, the opposition gets weaker and weaker. Now from one tweet, people are sent to jail. Thousands of university students. Europe only hears about the writers, journalists. But thousands of university students are in jail. Just from one tweet. People are even afraid of tweeting. How could you organize an opposition [while] you can’t even write a tweet. Even the Twitter was closed down for some times. The situation seems very grave. Not only people are arrested, they are also sentenced [convicted]. An [pro-Kurdish] HDP deputy was sentenced to 16 years last week. 16 years is no joke. They are asking life sentences for Ahmet Altan. For me. For many people. They start with 15 years and it goes up to life sentence. And they will start giving those sentences,” Aslı erdoğan said.

Author Erdoğan and several other intellectuals, journalists and academics were indicted in 2016 for serving as editorial board advisers of a pro-Kurdish newspaper in Turkey. She was released on Dec. 29, 2016 after 132 days in jail. The indictment portrayed Özgür Gündem as a publication of “the terrorist organization,” in reference to the PKK.

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