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15.05.2018

Journalism is not a crime: protest against Erdoğan in London

British, Turkish and European groups joined forces to urge the UK government to raise the issue of press freedom and human rights with President Erdoğan who was in London to meet prime minister Theresa May.

Brits urged: Tell Erdoğan that journalism|s nota crime Media freedom campaigners protest. Photo: Andy McSmith

The purge of critical media and opposition parties by the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan administration has left more than 150 journalists and media workers behind bars, amongst more than 50,000 intellectuals who have been arrested and subjected to show trials. Turkey is considered the biggest jail for journalists in the world.

On Tuesday, 15 May, 2018, representatives of ECPMF partner Index on Censorship, English PEN, Article 19, the National Union of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders united to demonstrate against Turkish president Erdoğan who was in London to meet prime minister Theresa May. It was noisy but peaceful, except smaller quarrels with the police.

With fellow members of the Turkey Advocacy Group, the ECPMF demands: 

The immediate and unconditional release of the many journalists currently jailed in Turkey, and for a stop to the broader unprecedented free expression crackdown taking place in the country. We are calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to raise these concerns as a matter of urgent priority in her meeting with President Erdoğan.

A Twitter storm also erupted after three Premier League footballers of Turkish heritage met President Erdoğan in London and presented him with an Arsenal F.C. shirt and posed for photos with him. Tweets are criticising the players including one from a prominent German MP, the deputy leader of the Left (Die Linke) group in the German parliament.  

Footballers criticised

Quoted on the BBC, the Member of Parliament Sevim Dagdelen, who herself has a Turkish heritage, tweeted: "It's a crude foul to pose with the despot Erdoğan in a luxury hotel in London and dignify him with the title 'my President', while in Turkey democrats are persecuted and critical journalists are detained."

The reasons why the UK government appears to disregard Turkey’s appalling record on human rights became clear in President Erdoğan’s speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs think tank (known as Chatham House) and in a TV interview where he noted that trade links and arms deals between Britain and Turkey are already worth 17 billion US dollars, and that after Britain leaves the EU this relationship “will become even more important for both of us.“

According to ECPMF partner organisation the International Press Institute there are more than 150 jailed journalists and media workers in Turkey. Together they have endured 126,950 days in detention.





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