#FreeErol: Joint protest in Berlin to support imprisoned Turkish activists

by Katharina Mikulcak
On Monday, 27 June, the ECPMF protested in front of the Turkish Embassy in Berlin together with Reporters without Borders (RSF), Amnesty International and other human rights organisations for the immediate release of the journalist and staff member of RSF, Erol Önderoğlu and his two colleagues, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, pathologist and chairman of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, and the author Ahmet Nesin.

#FreeErol #FreeErol: Joint protest in Berlin to support imprisoned Turkish activists (Photo: ECPMF/Mikulcak)

The three have been arrested on 20 June and are now in pretrial detention. A trial date has not yet been set. Önderoğlu, Fincanı and Nesin are being charged with “terrorist propaganda” for participating in a solidarity campaign in which journalists and activists have been taking turns acting as co-editors of the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem to protest against its persistent harassment by judicial authorities. They are among 44 journalists and activists who have participated in the solidarity campaign that began on 3 May 2016, World Press Freedom Day.

Since their arrest, journalists’ organisations all over the world have been campaigning for the three and for all other imprisoned colleagues in Turkey. Johann Bihr, head of Reporters Without Borders‘ Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, calls this a “black day for freedom of expression” and says that

Erol Önderoğlu has fought tirelessly to defend persecuted journalists in the past 20 years. He is a leader in this work because of his honesty and integrity, which is recognised in the press and freedom of expression groups worldwide.”

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Also ECPMF has been working several times with Erol on media freedom in Turkey and strongly condemns the pre-trial detention and the impending sentence of up to 14,5 years.

This latest case is not the only one that worries human rights activists. “The arrests of Önderoğlu, Fincanı and Nesin appear to be part of a sinister trend in Turkey where proponents of free expression and press freedom are not heard or welcomed, but rounded up and silenced“, stated the global journalist network ifex.

The ECPMF asks the Turkish government to immediately and unconditionally release these dedicated individuals who should not be persecuted for advocating for and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.