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Remembering imprisoned Turkish journalists on World Press Freedom Day

3 May 2013

Journalists across the world marked World Press Freedom Day with meetings and events focusing on the dangers facing freedom of expression and actual threats to the lives of media workers.

In London, the National Union of Journalists brought together campaigners for free speech and media rights at a major event to highlight the oppression of journalists in Turkey, where hundreds of journalists are being persecuted for doing their jobs.

The meeting at the NUJ's headquarters was addressed through a live video link from Istanbul by Coskun Musluk, an academic and columnist who spent more than a year in prison.

He outlined how Turkish judicial institutions were under the control of the government, and stressed the importance of international solidarity in defending journalists in Turkey.

"The campaign is very important to imprisoned journalists," he said. "Please send them letters and postcards, and write about their situation in newspapers and blogs. Please make their voices heard."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, who chaired the meeting, echoed that call.

"It is vital that we keep our colleagues in Turkey in our thoughts, we must not forget them."

Mehmet Koksal, co-ordinator of the European Federation of Journalists Turkey campaign, who is also vice president of the Belgian journalists association, has returned recently from a visit to Turkey.

"There is support for the press freedom campaign among journalists in Turkey, no matter whether they hold different political views. They say: 'We don't have the same views, but we want to express ourselves freely.'"

Of the 76 journalists jailed by the Turkish government, he said: "In jail, you are afraid of being forgotten, which is what the government wants. This is why international support is so important."

He said that among journalists in Turkey, the question asked was no longer 'have you been in jail?', but 'how many years have you been in jail?'.. There is further information on the EFJ campaign to set journalists free in Turkey.

Speeches by Sean Bamford, TUC policy officer; Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists and Andrew Gardner of Amnesty International were followed by contributions and questions from a capacity audience.

Tags: IFJ, EFJ, Turkey, press freedom, world press freedom day