Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the Turkish government’s imprisonment of Max Zirngast, an Austrian socialist, journalist, and student. Zirngast — who has written for a variety of publications, including the American socialist magazine Jacobin — was arrested on September 11 by Turkish anti-terror police at his apartment in Ankara along with three other activists. He is still being detained.
This is a severe affront to basic democratic freedoms. While the Turkish government claims Zirngast is a member of a terrorist group, DSA maintains that the only thing he is guilty of is decrying creeping authoritarianism in Turkey, supporting Kurdish rights, and organizing for a socialist future.
Zirngast’s detention is part of a broader wave of repression by the Erdogan government, particularly against those who speak up on behalf of democratic values and Kurdish rights. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has laid waste to Kurdish areas inside and outside the country, arrested opposition figures including People’s Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, shuttered media outlets, and cozied up to the fascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Erdogan’s aim has been to consolidate his power and squelch the cause of popular democracy in Turkey.
Max Zirngast has stood against all of this. In recent years, he has worked on the leftist, pro-Kurdish HDP’s election campaign, written analyses of Erdoğan’s power plays, and organized summer schools for children from poor families. In court, he defiantly stated: “I am a socialist, I defend universal values.”
We demand Max Zirngast’s release — as well as all other political prisoners in Turkey — and are calling on DSA members and chapters to get involved in the international campaign to free him. Chapters in Washington, DC; New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; and Boston — all of which have Turkish consulates in their cities — will be especially important to this effort.