Detained Turkish Journalists’ Letter to the EU Leaders

Detained journalists urge EU not to compromise with Turkey over human rights

Two Turkish journalists arrested this week over their reports about arms supplies to Syria urged the European Union not to compromise on human rights and freedoms as it seeks an agreement with Turkey to help stem flows of migrants to Europe.

European diplomats have been measured in their criticism of media freedom in Turkey and President Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, recognizing the West needs Ankara’s help on the migrant crisis and as an ally in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

European and Turkish officials hope EU leaders and Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will sign a deal to ease the migrant crisis on Sunday.

Writing from Silivri prison near Istanbul, Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, which is left-wing, secular and often critical of the government, and senior editor Erdem Gul said in a letter to EU leaders they hope Sunday’s meeting results in a lasting solution, adding:

“We would also like to hope that your desire to end the crisis will not stand in the way of your sensitivity towards human rights, freedom of press and expression as fundamental values of the Western world.”

The two also wrote to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a spokesman for the German government confirmed.

A court on Thursday ordered the arrest of the two journalists over the publication of footage purporting to show the state intelligence agency helping send weapons to Syria.

The U.S. embassy criticized the arrests and the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks described them as “another blow to media freedom in Turkey”.

Reuters – Ankara (Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; additional reporting by Matthias Sobolewski in Berlin; Writing by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Dominic Evans)


Full English text of the letter:

“To the leaders of the European Union,

We as journalists who believe that Turkey is part of the European family and should be a full member of the Union, write you this letter from Silivri Prison.

Freedom of thought and expression are the indispensable values of our civilization.
We have been arrested and held in custody pending our trial for exercising these freedoms and defending the public’s right for information.

The Prime Minister of Turkey, whom you will meet this weekend, and the regime he represents are well known for policies and practices that have flouted human rights and freedom of the press.

Your governments are negotiating with Ankara in connection with the refugee crisis, a crisis that has concerned and touched all our hearts.

We sincerely hope that the meeting produces a lasting solution to this problem.

We would also hope that your desire to end the crisis will not stand in the way of your sensitivity towards human rights, freedom of press and expression as fundamental values of the Western world.

We would respectfully remind you that our common values can only be protected by a common stance and solidarity, and this solidarity is now both more vital and urgent than ever.

On behalf of imprisoned journalists
Can Dündar and Erdem Gül”

About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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