Freedom of expression: What is wrong with Turkey?

By Roni Alasor / Lorin Sarkisian Brussels, 20 December 2012 – Ararat News (ANP) -The initial democratic project of AKP becomes now more and more totalitarian. The violations against the freedom of expression, the unjustified detentions, and the oppression of the opposition are characteristics of a real authoritarian rule taking shape in Turkey.

Today around 70 journalists and several thousands of Kurdish politicians are in the Turkish prisons without juridical proves.

These and other observations on the current situation in Turkey were shared by Ragip Zarakolu, Turkish journalist and publisher, and Philippe Leruth, Vice-President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), during a press conference last Wednesday in Brussels, organised by EFJ and moderated by the independent Turkish-Belgian journalist Mehmet Koksal.Zarakolu shared his own experience, as being detained for political reasons in Turkey three times, two times under military regime for 3 months in 1971 and 3 weeks in 1980, and the last time in 2011 under civil government and civil court but for 5 months. “Today Turkey is the worst example in the world for misuse of the anti-terror law. When they accuse everyone for terrorism, they just give ground for more radical views to find support”, regretted Zarakolu.

The Turkish publisher said that the concepts for “national security” and “interior enemy” should change in Turkey and the political game should be fair. Referring to the thousands politicians, journalists, human right activists and intellectuals of Kurdish origin accused for terrorist activities and detained in Turkey without proves, Zarakolu qualified this as “breaking their legs and arms before the elections” and condemned this unfair practice while EU and US is just silently “observing” and even backing the AKP government policy with the rapports of MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten.

Talking about his own journalistic-publication activities and about the targeting or killing of journalists in Turkey, Ragip Zarakolu said that he is not afraid for his life: “At a certain point, Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul in 2007, saved our lives, because there was so huge reaction after his killing in Turkey and all over the world”, pointed out Zarakolu. He mentioned also that there was a list of targeted intellectuals by deep-state terror organisation Ergenekon, including Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk, Taner Akcam, Oral Calislar, Ragip Zarakolu, Elif Safak and many others… Regarding how EFJ concretely helps journalists in detention in Turkey, the Vice President Philippe Leruth explained about the campaign, launched by EFJ: “Parallel to the group actions, everyone can act individually by sending a letter to the Turkish embassy to protest against journalists detentions”. The site of EFJ is publishing an updated list of imprisoned journalists and the number of days they are in prison.

EFJ also supports the Turkish Journalists’ Union who is active on the ground and it organises delegations to Turkey to show solidarity.