When I was born, my artist parents worked in Istanbul. I spent the first couple of years of my life there. I have no memories but it’s an important part of our family’s history. My parents moved to Turkey from Austria in their early 20s, and the experience had a profound impact on their lives. To this day, I visit family friends in Istanbul every few years.
Another Austrian citizen with political interests finds himself in Turkey today under very different circumstances. The journalist Max Zirngast was arrested on September 11, 2018, in the Turkish capital Ankara. He has been accused of belonging to a small communist organization involved in illegal activities. While none of this has been substantiated, Max remains in custody. News outlets such as CNN and the Guardian have reported on the case. Max himself has contributed to English-language magazines like Jacobin.
As always, the recognition that Max receives as an international prisoner of the Erdogan regime must remind us of the many unknown Turkish and Kurdish activists in detention. Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have highlighted the level of state repression in the country.
For more information and updates on Max’s case, please visit the Free Max Zirngast website.