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Journalists currently in jail in Turkey must be set free immediately, says the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) if the movement towards key changes in the country ‘ s constitution is to deliver promises of democracy and freedom.The EFJ has joined its affiliate, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), in a call for the immediate and unconditional release of more than 40 journalists jailed in Turkey who they say are in prison for nothing more than doing their job. They made the call after a majority of Turkish citizens voted “Yes” to amending the country ‘ s constitution in a referendum last month.
“We demand the immediate release of all journalists whose continued detention has only served to show the country ‘ s intolerance of real democratic debate,” said Arne König, EFJ President, “The vote for changes on September 12 would open the possibility of genuine change and modernization. It is prime time for the Government to show leadership and to end the climate of fear and intimidation which still surrounds the work of Turkish journalists.”
The Turkish journalists currently in prison are awaiting trial on charges of violating the Turkish penal code or anti-terror laws through their work as journalists. In addition, over 700 Turkish journalists are facing law suits, with the threat of imprisonment.
“These journalists are guilty only of doing their job honestly and professionally,” said König. “It is unconscionable to be locked up for carrying out their normal journalistic duties.”
The frustration of European journalists is shared by journalists ‘ leaders inside the country.
“We urge the Government to release the jailed journalists immediately and reform the country ‘ s legal system to protect journalists ‘ rights to respect freedom of expression,” said Ercan Ipekçi, TGS President and member of the EFJ Steering Committee.
“There can be no free society without free journalism,” he warned, “the Government must put press freedom at the core of its constitutional changes.”
The TGS has already joined forces with 18 other journalists ‘ organisations to establish the Freedom for Journalists Platform to monitor issues concerning the freedom of journalists on 25 August. A council of law will be set up to review judicial cases concerning press freedom in Turkey .
The EFJ calls on its member unions and civil society groups to join the campaign to free jailed Turkish journalists.
Please open the link below to sign and send the e-card to the Prime Minister of Turkey , Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
There will be an update on the campaign at the next meeting of the EFJ steering committee in Brussels on 20/21 October, on which I will report.