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Human Rights and a Free Press in Turkey

 

Human Rights and a Free Press

 

 

Ulysses was banned in America for a short time and so it is  fitting that we cast a light on continuing repression of literary expression and honest journalism throughout the world.

 

We have petitioned in the past on behalf of writers as Vaclav Havel, Xu Wenli, Aung San Suu Ky, Daniel Pearl, Anna Politkovskaya, and Rael Badwawi, who is still at this writing in a Saudi Arabian prison sentenced to 10 years for merely writing words of dissent.

 

Recently five booksellers disappeared late last year from their homes in Hong Kong only to be revealed on China as “guests of the People’s Republic of China” for the simple act of the publishing books critical of the political leadership. Two have been released as of this writing and international pressure continues for the remaining book sellers’ immediate release from detention that is in clear violation of the Hong Kong “one country, two systems” agreement.

 

As we write this, events are unfolding in a nation we call an important ally. The government of Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seized the offices of the largest newspaper in the country and put it under the control of government-appointed trustees.

 

Dozens of journalists were removed from positions for the mere reporting of the news, and two editors were jailed and now face life imprisonment.

 

Recently the justice department in Turkey has charged more than 1800 authors, cartoonists, politicians and ordinary citizens with the crime of “insulting the president” and over a thousand academics were targeted for speaking out against similar repression and government abuse of antiterrorism laws. Turkey is now ranked 149th out of 180 for the protection of press freedoms.

 

We join the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN, International and Amnesty International to demand the immediate restoration of press freedom and release citizens persecuted for their exercise of their rights under the constitution of Turkey.

 

The European Union should not initiate negotiations with Turkey to become a member of the E.U. until human rights, freedom of expression and press freedoms are guaranteed for all of its people.