Following a fact-finding visit to Diyarbakir, in the Kurdish regions of southern Turkey, Julie gave a speech in the European Parliament's Plenary session, to highlight the need for EU action on human rights in Turkey, and particualrly the situation of journalists and the media.
"I have just returned from a fact-finding mission in Turkish Kurdistan where I talked to communities living in a climate of fear and repression in Diyarbakir, Mardin and on the border with Syria. I saw the terrible state—sponsored destruction of the historic district of Sur, where dozens of young Kurds burned to death in basements. I talked to bereaved mothers in Nusaybin whose sons and daughters had perished because of the state’s attacks on its own citizens, their bodies torn apart, impossible to identify. Many are still missing. I met the distraught families of teachers whose loved ones have been sacked, intimidated and imprisoned for attending union meetings. I met democratically elected politicians – many of them women like myself – but who have been stripped of office due to trumped up charges because of their Kurdish identity and their political affiliation. I met Yazidi refugees cared for, not by the state, but by the Kurdish community, all wondering when the world will remember them.
Independent media is being silenced and shut down in Turkey, and journalists and academics arrested, tried and imprisoned. The country is in the grip of a terrible dictatorial man. Erdogan is messing with democracy because he is afraid of democracy. The June elections proved that there is a multiplicity of voices in Turkey and many of these belong to diverse ethnic groups and progressive forces. It is time for the EU to recognise the true reality of the Turkish State and demand human rights norms for everyone."
In the meantime, the European and International Federations of Journalists has issued a letter to MEPs, requesting their support:
Brussels, le 25 October 2016 To the attention of: Members of the European Parliament (MEP)
Situation of journalists in Turkey
Dear sir or madam,
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and their affiliates in Turkey (journalists’ unions and associations) would like to share with you their opinions about the world’s biggest prison for journalists: Turkey.
The situation of journalists in Turkey is so dramatic that even professional trade unions, NGOs and human rights watchdog organisations have expressed difficulties in monitoring the number of jailed journalists (112 as of today according to EFJ/IFJ monitoring), 1 journalist killed in February in Cisre (EFJ/IFJ figures) the number of media companies closed (173 as of today
according to Bianet), number of journalists under prosecution (22 journalists have recently been subject to criminal prosecution for « defaming the President »), more than 2500 lost their jobs, over 775 press cards have been canceled and at least 46 journalists cannot travel as their passeports have been confiscated.
The EFJ-IFJ believe that the European Union is a union based on values and principles as described in the EU Charter of fundamental rights and monitored by the fundamental rights agency. Article 11 of this charter states that "1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information
and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. 2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected. "
Turkey as a candidate and partner country is in grave violation of the principles stated above as documented by the EFJ-IFJ. Please refer to the many media freedom violations that the federations recorded on the Mapping Media Freedom database and the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection and safety of journalists.
The EFJ-IFJ recently organised a press conference to condemn the attitude of Eutelsat, a French satellite provider, for removing, on the request of the government of Turkey, many Kurdish language channels broadcasting from Belgium and Sweden. The federations have organised solidarity visits to independent TV channels (IMC TV, Hayatin Sesi, TV 10) who were removed from the satellite provider and subsequently closed.
As we write, journalists in Turkey (Turkish, Kurdish, international correspondents) are subject to detentions, custody orders, arrests, house raids, insults, prosecution, threats, confiscation of materials or documents, accusations of being members of illegal organisations, etc. When questioned about the EU’s role, many journalists on the ground feel abandoned by the EU for
too quickly abandoning human rights values in favour of relations with an oppressive government.They ask the EU decision makers to take a stronger stance to oppose the massive media freedom violations in Turkey.
The EFJ-IFJ are sharing their analysis and are asking the Honorable Members of the European Parliament’s to support the solidarity actions with arrested journalists in Turkey by signing our online petition calling for their unconditional release.
(5960 signatures so far)
Morgens Blicher Bjerregård Philippe Leruth
President EFJ President IFJ