The President of the European Federation of Journalists, which for over a year has been running the Set journalists free in Turkey campaign, recently sent a letter to the Commissioner for EU Enlargement, Stefan Fule, with an urgent call for action to end media clampdowns in Turkey.

You can read the letter below, and here is a response written by Stefan Fule, available to download (pdf).

Commissioner Štefan Füle
DG Enlargement
European Commission

Re: Urgent Call for Action to End Media Clampdown in Turkey

18 June 2013

Dear Commissioner Füle,

We are writing as Presidents of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation representing more than 600.000 journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to bring to your attention the serious developments for our colleagues in Turkey.

We are gravely concerned by the escalation of violence targeting journalists who are covering the protests around Taksim Square and Gezi Park as well as other peaceful protests across the country.

We have recorded at least four incidents where journalists were arbitrarily detained, had their equipment damaged and their pictures of the protests deleted on the orders of police. We condemn unreservedly these brutal attacks on journalists and civilians during the recent crackdown.

This situation must stop. Journalists must be allowed to report on the protests without fear and censorship. We will be mobilising our 180 journalists’ member unions throughout the world to stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in Turkey and help them in their fight to press freedom and democracy.

But we need help to resolve the current media crisis in Turkey. We therefore call on your government to press the Turkish government on the need to respect the right of journalists to freedom of expression which is guaranteed by European and International law.

Furthermore, we wish to remind you that Article 26 and Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution guarantee the citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration. The Turkish government is also bound by its international obligations such as the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10 on freedom of expression & Article 11 on freedom on assembly) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19 on freedom of expression & Article 20 on freedom of assembly).

These legal provisions must be enforced in order for media to report independently on what is clearly an issue of great public interest, both in Turkey and beyond.

We await your immediate response to this urgent matter.

Sincerely yours,

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård
EFJ President