The German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels e.V.), PEN Centre Germany and Reporters Without Borders Germany have issued a joint call for a tougher diplomatic response to the systematic stifling of freedom of expression in Turkey.
Under the #FreeWordsTurkey initiative, the campaigners have launched an online petition through change.org to push the German federal government and EU Commission to ‘adopt a clear and resolute position on the current state of freedom of expression in Turkey’.
In addition, it urges the two bodies ‘to call for uncompromising respect for freedom of expression in any related decisions, actions and statements they make’, and to help journalists and authors affected by restrictions to freedom of expression, such as by giving them expedited emergency visas.
The petition will be delivered to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Alexander Skipis, Managing Director of the Börsenverein (left) said the ramping up of the Turkish media crackdown in the wake of the failed coup amounted to the ‘virtual extinction of freedom of expression in Turkey’.
‘The Turkish government has unleashed a massive attack on freedom of expression,’ he said. ‘The German Government and the EU Commission simply cannot be silent on this subject any longer. Politicians and governments have an obligation to confirm their uncompromising commitment to this basic right. We cannot allow freedom of expression to be undermined or instrumentalized for reasons of political expediency. We need to work together to break this silence and send out a clear signal of support for freedom of expression.’
“The German Government and the EU Commission cannot be silent on this subject any longer.”
Alexander Skipis, Managing Director of the Börsenverein
While Turkey’s woeful freedom of speech record is already notorious, #FreeWordsTurkey follows a concerted government drive to close media outlets on an industrial scale.
After the failed coup d’état on 15 July, Turkish MPs approved a state of emergency bill that allowed rule by decree and a ‘partial withdrawal’ from the European convention on human rights.
Despite Ankara’s insistence that the move would not affect the lives and freedoms of citizens, more than 130 media outlets, including 29 publishing houses, were summarily shuttered and around 89 writers and journalists jailed.
Among the newspapers closed is the pro-Kurdish opposition daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, which has no links to the coup plotters or the state of emergency.