Mar 29 2018

Freedom of expression in Turkey in jeopardy, PEN warns

Turkish authorities have prosecuted 80 authors and shut down 18 periodicals and 29 publishing houses under the ongoing state of emergency imposed after the 2016 failed coup, according to the results of a study published by English PEN.

Among those 80 authors, three are being tried for the books they have written, while the remaining 77 are being prosecuted for being members of terrorist organisations, or for having affiliations or links with such organisations due to their newspaper articles or social media posts.

Of the 80 authors, 19 are in pre-trial detention, and 22 have been released pending trial, while the proceedings against 34 have been concluded and 26 have been convicted. Only eight have been acquitted. 

Many academics have also been prosecuted, the report said. In addition to the administrative proceedings initiated at universities, criminal investigations were launched against academics who signed a petition calling for a peaceful end to the three-decade-old Kurdish conflict. 

The authors of the report Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altıparmak said European Court of Human Rights rulings had no effect on Turkish government practices. They called for the development of a mechanism that could effectively address the lack of political will to conform to international standards on freedom of expression. Otherwise, they warned, “it will not be possible to solve the structural problems and create a free legal system for writers in Turkey”.