United Nations special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye’s report was read during a special session. In his 21 page long report, Mr. Kaye mentioned that Turkey has been banning journalists, artists, novelists, academicians and shutting down newspapers and agencies as well as forbidding movies, using the excuse of fighting terrorism whose boundaries are not very well defined, as Turkish newspaper Evrensel reported it. The current situation in Turkey can be described as the worst years in terms of freedom of opinion and expression in recent times, said Mr. Kaye. He further added that he has serious doubts regarding a fair trial as a result of recent interventions into the judicial system by the government.
TURKEY is WAY BEHIND 1982 CONSTITUTION
Mr. Kaye who has been in meetings with the state officials, civil society organizations representatives, novelists, academicians, journalists and intellectuals who are jailed or not during his Turkey visit noted that the feedback from these meetings are worrisome and that human rights are being systematically and seriously violated after the establishment of State of Emergency following the failed coup attempt. Noting that the current applications has put Turkey way behind 1982 Constitution, Mr. Kaye expressed that under all conditions Turkey has to respect the human rights.
“By the time the report was prepared, there were at least 177 news agencies shut down, 231 journalists jailed and more than 150 journalists kept in the custody. Of course, we should also point out that there are thousands of journalist and newspapers employees laid off and at least 778 of them lost their press credentials” said Mr. Kaye. He also added such kind of treatment is increasing every day.
THOSE SUPPORTED ÖZGÜR GÜNDEM NEWSPAPERS JAILED TOO!
Mr. Kaye who spoke at great length on the pressure applied against Özgür Gündem newspaper said that those journalists and intellectuals who stood by Özgür Gündem employees for its continuous effort to resolve Kurdish problem peacefully when they faced pressure either ended up appearing the court or being jailed. While drawing attention to the insurmountable level of pressure on Kurdish media, Mr. Kaye also pointed out that those TV channels broadcasting in Kurdish language and the news agencies known with their closeness to Alevis are being either shut down or censored. Mr. Kaye told that many news and media agencies are shut down and their employees are jailed with an excuse of being a member of Fethullah Gulen movement.
Current status of Academia
Reminding the pressure towards Academicians, Mr. Kaye underlined the facts that there are approximately 26,000 teachers or academicians laid off and that those with Kurdish background or with leftist ideology are especially targeted.
Pressure on HDP party
In addition, Mr. Kaye mentioned that 13 HDP MPs are jailed as of now and emphasized that many elected mayors, party officials or members with or without arrest warrant have appeared in the courts. Turkey is currently a country where many civil society organizations faced similar type of pressures, some of them are required to shut down their activities such as songs or movies.
STATE of EMERGENCY must be lifted
Expressing his desire on the state of emergency to be lifted immediately, Mr. Kaye demanded that all the obstructions on the freedom of opinion and expression have to removed, the laws regarding fighting terrorism needs to be amended and the jailed academicians, journalists and novelists need to be released. Following Mr. Kaye, the delegates of each country expressed their opinions regarding this matter.
Turkey’s Defense at UN: Those are not journalists, they are coupists
The Undersecretary to the Permanent Representation of Turkey to the United Nations, Mr. Feridun Siniroğlu defended Turkey, saying that the journalists and other professionals are jailed not because of their professions but because of their support for the coupists or taking part in the coupists’ actions.
Mr. Siniroğlu, objecting to Mr. Kaye’s report, mentioned that the extraordinary conditions of Turkey are not being taken into consideration. In fighting against PKK, FETO and DHKP-C, the state of emergency is essential, said Mr. Siniroğlu. He claimed that Turkey is respectful to the freedom of opinion and expression and such rights are secured under the Constitution. He also claimed that currently there is no journalists being out in trial as a result of their profession but they were along with the coupists. While noting that there is a commission in the parliament in regard to the state of Emergecy, Mr. Siniroğlu said that if there is any violations, he is sure that this commission, soon to start, will resolve it.
The Undersecretary of Austria, on the other hand, expressing their concerns on the recent events took place in Turkey, stated that the restrictions and the pressure on the freedom of opinion and expression have reached to an alarming level.