On October 7th 2016, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) released 130 balloons to the sky of Leipzig, Germany, to show solidarity with the jailed journalists in Turkey.
As part of this year’s European Media Freedom Conference, the international participants and guests gathered to take a stand for the protection of media freedom in Turkey. Together with Can Dündar, who receives the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media of the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, they appealed: “Free the journalists!”
Jane Whyatt, managing director of the ECPMF, stated:
“It was 96 when we printed our postcards, today Yavuz Baydar told us about 126 journalists in jail – we, our colleagues and our friends in Turkey actually lost track of the journalists who are currently imprisoned. Their freedom has not been taken away because they did something wrong – but because they were doing their job. They are critical towards the government and ask questions, they investigate on topics like corruption instead of accepting the facts given to them. In proper democracies, this is appreciated as it fosters a debate. In Turkey, this makes you a suspect and even a terrorist.
Sevgi Akarçeşme, who unfortunately had to leave the conference already and could not stay with us, said in a talk here in this place on Wednesday that she actually is glad that she has been living in exile for the last 6 months – because all her colleagues and friends who are still in Turkey can only live under constant fear.
And Can Dündar said yesterday that “Turkey is an open prison”: We do not only want to count the numbers of those who are imprisoned. But we want to look at the human stories behind the numbers. We want to think of the families and friends who might not be in prison, but have to suffer, too – and who are like in a prison as their passports are cancelled and they cannot travel – like many friends and colleagues we invited, like the wife of Can Dündar and like the other winner of the Prize of the Freedom and Future of the Media, Erdem Gül.
And of course, we also want to think not only about the journalists, but all the other academics and civil servants who have been imprisoned without reason, without justice.
We free a balloon for every imprisoned journalist in Turkey. By this, we do not only set a nice sign against the grey Leipzig sky, but – united with all our voices from all over Europe – here and today launch a strong call to President Erdogan in Turkey as well as to the EU and our MEPs to restore and respect media freedom and other human rights. FREE THE JOURNALISTS!”
(Photo: Christian Lamm, ECPMF)