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10/4/10

Censorship Turkish journalists warn Ankara and the EU

Journalists’ professional organizations gathered at Journalists’ Association of Turkey
(TGC – Turkiye Gazeteciler Cemiyeti) and published a declaration
 
As many journalists are detained in prison for months and the extension of the period of detention has became in a way a punishment, Orhan Erinc (President of the Journalists' Association of Turkey - TGC), Ercan Ipekci (President of Journalists’ Union of Turkey), Atilla Sertel (President of Federation of Journalists of Turkey), Yilmaz Karaca (Chairman of Journalists’ Associations Press Foundation), Oktay Eksi (President of the Press Council), Nazim Alpman (representing the Contemporary Journalists' Association), Ferai Tinc (President of the Press Institute Association) and Ali Ekber Yildirim (Vice-President of the Journalists’ Association of Izmir) reacted and signed a declaration.

The joint declaration of journalists’ professional organizations, which requested respect from the government to the right of freedom of press and to the right of the public to receive information, has been as follows:

"There is a large number of journalists and media employees who are on trial, being detained in jail in Turkey Apart from the trials with detention, there are more than 700 criminal suits and suits for damages related to journalists. The imprisonment which holds back journalists from exercising their profession threatens press freedom in Turkey.

In the Ergenekon case, six journalists are on trial in Silivri. All of them are imprisoned since the beginning of the investigation. Prosecutors have completed investigations, gathered the evidences and prepared the indictments. Cases have been opened and hearings are in progress. Although the Chief judge of the court voted in favor, the release of journalists is consistently rejected. Some of them have been detained for almost 2 years. This clearly shows that arrests are not a precaution, but have become a mean of punishment.

At the end of the trial, the journalists Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Ozkan, Deniz Yildirim, Ufuk Akkaya, Hikmet Cicek, Emcet Olcaytu and Ergun Poyraz may be found  guiltless, but they have stayed in prison as long as if they have been convicted to 8-10 years of prison.

We would like to remind all these matters, to those who defend what has happened in the name of "state law" and "the rule of law".
Journalists have never been detained for such a long time in Turkey, as it has been the case in the Ergenekon investigation, even during the:
  • 33 years of autocracy of Abdulhamit in Turkey’s past, 
  • Period of Independance Courts,
  • Period of Law on the Maintenance of Order (Takrir-i Sukun Kanunu),
  • Single-party period,
  • Rule of the Democratic Party

The only example of a long period of detention of journalists, is the case of “Peace Association” (Baris Dernegi), happened during the coup of September 12, 1980, that the government criticises at every opportunity and pretends to take “revenge” on. 

The basic liberty is the liberty of individuals. According to article 19/7 of the constitution of 1982, persons under detention shall have the right to request trial within a reasonable or to be released during investigation or prosecution. The source of this article comes from the European Convention on Human Rights, in which article 5-6 protect individual liberties in a broad sense.

We are waiting for an implementation in line with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. We want the removal of all detentions which are clearly against the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Our journalist friends are not alone and will not be left alone.

We would like to make this public announcement on behalf of the professional organizations of press, with our best regards,
 
Orhan Erinc – President of Journalists' Association of Turkey

Ercan Ipekci- President of Journalists' Union of Turkey

Atilla Sertel – President of Journalists' Federation of Turkey

Oktay Eksi – President of Press Council

Ferai Tınç - President of the Press Institute Association

Nazim Alpman - Representing Contemporary Journalists' Association

Yilmaz Karaca – President of the Journalists' Associations Press Foundation

Nail Güreli - President of the Senate of Journalists’ Association of Turkey

Sibel Gunes - General Secretary of the Journalists’ Association of Turkey

Ali Ekber Yildirim - Vice-President of Journalists’ Association of Izmir

Turgut Kazan - Lawyer

Fikret İlkiz - General Counsel of the Journalists’ Association of Turkey”

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