Free Max Zirngast

One of our contributors, Max Zirngast, has been taken into custody by Turkish police. This is an appalling abridgment of democratic rights.

Turkish soldiers guard the entrance to an Istanbul courthouse as lawyers, journalists, and onlookers try to enter to view the ongoing trial of journalists from the Cumhuriyet newspaper on September 11, 2017. Chris McGrath / Getty

Early this morning, at around 5 AM, antiterror police took our friend and comrade Max Zirngast into custody at his apartment in Ankara, Turkey. As of yet, we have no accurate information about the exact accusations or what might come next. Police have classified all information as “confidential,” refusing to release it even to lawyers. However, supporters on site have reported that police spoke of Max’s “support for a terrorist organization” and of “political publications” as the reason for his detention.

As frequent readers of Jacobin will know, we have written many pieces with Max analyzing and criticizing the repressive and authoritarian developments in Turkey from a Marxist, revolutionary point of view, often from inside Turkey. All three of us have never hidden our political stance and have taken active positions in the struggle for democracy and popular power.

Born and raised in Austria, Max has been engaged intellectually, politically, and personally with Turkey for many years. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Vienna, he moved to Turkey in 2015 to continue his studies in political science at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara. Since then, he has been writing regularly for many different, mostly leftist outlets, in German and English, as well for the Turkish socialist monthly Toplumsal Özgürlük. And he has been active politically in a variety of forms, from taking part in the election campaign of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party — a pro-Kurdish leftist party) to giving seminars on Marx and Marxism to organizing alternative summer schools for children from poor families.

As Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s despotic government tries to stabilize its dominance, the remaining voices, organizations, and people that oppose him are under extreme pressure. It is critical for the struggle for democracy and freedom in Turkey that Erdoğan not succeed.

We stand firmly in solidarity with Max and all other colleagues and political prisoners in Turkey — deploring the appalling abridgment of their democratic rights, and demanding their release.