The space for freedom of expression is rapidly shrinking in Turkey. Following a contested constitutional referendum, which took place under a state of emergency allowing heavy restrictions on freedom of expression, the narrow win for President Erdoğan’s ‘Yes’ campaign grants wide-reaching, centralised new powers to the president including the right to rule by decree, appoint ministers and top judges at his discretion, and to abolish parliament.
The Turkish authorities’ campaign was marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions and these concerns were echoed by international observers at OSCE who presented in their post-referendum report, underlining an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the lead up to the elections.
According to PEN’s records, 173 media outlets have been shut down, whilst more than 150 journalists and media workers remain behind bars since the crackdown on free expression widened in July. In 31 October 2016, Turkish police arrested 14 board members of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest and one of the few remaining opposition papers. On 4 November 2016, four staff members were released, while the remaining nine were formally charged. Less than a week later the paper’s chief executive, Akın Atalay, was arrested and further action in the investigation against the paper landed journalist Ahmet Şık and accountant Emre İper behind bars.
On World Press Freedom Day, PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to urgently and unconditionally release Cumhuriyet staff and other journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. For more information, please visit the PEN International website.
Join the vigil in London
English PEN will be hosting a silent vigil outside the Embassy of Turkey on Wednesday 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.
Wednesday 3 May, 5.30pm
Turkish Embassy, 43 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PA
Press enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to be partnering with other organisations – Amnesty International UK, Index on Censorship, Reporters Sans Frontières, PEN International and the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation – on this protest and the wider Free Turkey Media campaign. With so many of our fellow writers and journalists currently imprisoned or on trial in Turkey it is essential that we come together to support them.
Show your support on social media
We are asking fellow journalists, writers, and supporters of freedom of expression to show their support for the many journalists and writers currently imprisoned and on trial in Turkey. Please follow @FreeTurkeyMedia on Twitter and show your support by tweeting a photo with a sign reading #FreeTurkeyMedia #GazetecilikSuçDeğildir
Send a message of support
Send letters or postcards to Cumhuriyet or any of the detained journalists who are being kept in Silivri F Type Prison and are not being allowed letters or postcards.
Prof. Nurettin Mazhar Öktel Sok. No: 2
34381 Şişli / İstanbul
Tel: (+90 212) 343 72 74
Fax: (+90 212) 343 72 64
Write to the authorities
You can send a letter via Amnesty’s website to Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ calling for the release of our imprisoned colleagues.
Please also write to the Turkish authorities
- Calling for all detained writers and journalists to have access to lawyers and to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognisably criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
- Calling on the authorities not to use the state of emergency to crack down on peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31
Minister of Interior Affairs
Ministry of Interior Affairs
T.C. İçişleri Bakanlığı, Bakanlıklar / Ankara, Republic of Turkey
Tel: (+90 312) 422 40 00
Çankaya Mah. Ziaur Rahman Cad. Çankaya / Ankara
Tel: (+90 312) 403 50 00
Fax: (+90 312) 422 10 00
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country and send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.