Renewed calls for release of imprisoned journalists in Turkey
19 April 2013
The latest hearings in the KCK Press case in Turkey are due to take place on Monday 22 April at the special security prison Silivri, outside Istanbul. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its affiliate, the Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS), plan to monitor the hearings, as part of the campaign to free the journalists.
Forty-four journalists and media workers are being prosecuted, accused of being members, or working on behalf of KCK, the so-called "city organisation" of the illegal and armed PKK, the Kurdish Workers' Party. Some of the journalists have been released pending trial, but the majority remain in prison.
Arne König, EFJ president, said:
"Turkey is using long detention periods and long processes in the courts to punish not only the jailed journalists, but also those who have been released and acquitted. Turkey must come to terms with its way of sending critical journalists to jail and instead use the spreading of free information to develop the country."
The EFJ has attended most press trials in Turkey to show solidarity with its jailed colleagues. It has also repeatedly called on Turkish authorities to reconsider their interpretation of the terms "terrorism" and "propaganda" as most of the "evidence" presented in the 800 pages of the indictment, such as phone interviews, conference coverage, editorial meetings and war zone reporting, refer to standard journalistic activities.
The hearing on 22 April will be special as the Turkish government has recently officially opened a direct political dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK, in order to settle the Kurdish issue in a peaceful way. As three-quarters of the journalists imprisoned in Turkey are from pro-Kurdish media, the conclusions of this agreement could have an important impact on pro-Kurdish journalists working in the country.
Beside the EFJ and TGS representatives, a Belgian delegation of three Members of Parliament from the Brussels Regional Parliament, Jean-Claude Defossé from Ecolo, Fatoumata Sidibé from FDF, and André du Bus de Warnaffe from CDH, as well as Joachim Legatis from EFJ's German affiliate Deutsche Journalistinnen - und Journalisten-Union (dju in ver.di), will also be following this trial in Silivri.
The EFJ and the TGS are calling on the international community, the European institutions, the media and journalists associations to help put an end to violations of press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey.
The union has organised a public meeting on 2 May to mark world press freedom day – all welcome:
NUJ world press freedom day event: solidarity with Turkish journalists.