Call to Action
In ‘The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’, a joint report published by English PEN and PEN International, PEN assesses the violations of the right to freedom of expression and to freedom of assembly during summer 2013’s protests, detailing numerous examples of intimidation, judicial harassment and violence against writers and journalists by authorities in Turkey, and shedding light on the mechanisms by which the mainstream media is pushed towards self-censorship.
The key points addressed by the report, which you can read here, include:
- The rampant self-censorship within the Turkish media, highlighted by the media blackout in the early days of the protests and the scores of journalists who lost their jobs throughout (85 journalists lost their jobs during the protests according to the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS);
- The culture of media intimidation in Turkey, whereby high-ranking politicians target dissenting or anti-government writers and journalists, ‘naming and shaming’ them in speeches and public pronouncements;
- Violations of the right to freedom of expression, including the bringing of defamation cases against writers and artists critical of the prime minister;
- The impact on media freedom of the concentration of media ownership within the hands of a small group of businessmen and corporations who vie for public tenders in other areas of their businesses;
- The lack of independence in public bodies that regulate and control the media (such as TMSF and RTÜK);
- The regressive reforms to Turkey’s controversial Internet Law (Law 5651), which usher in a regime of online surveillance and censorship, and threaten to undermine a raft of fundamental rights and freedoms;
- The judicial harassment of twitter users and the Taksim Solidarity Platform (members of the latter faced 29 years in prison in an indictment rejected by an Istanbul court) for calling on individuals to participate in the protests without reference to violence;
- The brutal, indiscriminate and often excessive use of force employed by authorities during the arbitrary dispersal of peaceful protests (ten people died and, according to government figures, over 8,000 protesters were injured during the protests); and
- Attacks by authorities on field reporters attempting to perform their journalistic duty to report on the newsworthy events unfurling across the country (according to Bianet figures, 153 journalists were subjected to attacks from the police between 28 May and 30 September 2013).
Take Action Now
1.Share the report, the executive summary and this action paper with your networks, including on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #PENGezi) and other social media.
2. Send the report to your nearest Turkish embassy, your country’s embassy in Turkey and the Turkey desk of your government’s foreign office, requesting a meeting to discuss PEN’s concerns with regard to the findings of the report, as well as longstanding cases of concern (a list of writers at risk in Turkey can be found here), in person.
3. Identify a journalist within your Centre who will write an article or opinion piece on PEN’s concerns to place in your national media (please send us copies of any published).
4. Write to your Member of European Parliament (MEP), enclosing a copy of the report.
5. Send appeals to the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Turkey, demanding that the government:
- Initiate a comprehensive review of the rampant use of excessive force by security forces during the protests;
- Revise law enforcement officials’ code of conduct so that journalists’ right to safely report during protests is fully respected in future;
- Bring an end to the judicial harassment of writers, journalists and artists engaging in legitimate criticism of senior government figures;
- Cease all investigations into individuals for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression online;
- Overturn the regime of online censorship and surveillance initiated by the new Internet Law;
- Take steps to end the culture of intimidation and self-censorship paralysing the mainstream media in Turkey; and
- Make necessary reforms to public bodies like TMSF and RTÜK in order to safeguard the independence and health of the media sector.
To read the full report, please click here.
To read the executive summary, please click here.
To read in Turkish, please click here.
We encourage you to print out the report’s Executive Summary and send them as an appendix to your letters.
Send appeals to:
President Abdullah Gül
T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreterliği
Fax: +90 312 470 24 33
Twitter: @cbabdullahgul (mention #PENGezi)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Başbakanlık Merkez Bina
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
Twitter: @RT_Erdogan (mention #PENGezi)
Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
PLEASE LET US KNOW WHICH OF THE ABOVE ACTIONS YOU HAVE UNDERTAKEN AND OF ANY RESPONSES YOU RECEIVE. CONSIDER TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS OR VIDEOS OF YOUR ACTIONS FOR PUBLICITY PURPOSES – PLEASE ALSO SHARE THESE WITH US.
For further details regarding the report or about PEN’s work on free expression in Turkey contact Alev Yaman at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER UK Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org