Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (22 June):
I was deeply concerned to hear of the arrest of Erol Önderoğlu, the representative of Reporters without Borders in Turkey, Prof. Şebnem Korur Fıncancı, the President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and the writer Ahmet Nesin.
A democratic country must respect freedom of the press and freedom of opinion. No‑one must be arrested on the grounds of their commitment to freedom of opinion. As a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and as an EU accession candidate, Turkey must protect these rights.
I call on the Turkish Government to respect the expression of critical views and to support the work of civil society. I have been following the increasing restrictions on freedom of the press and media in Turkey with growing unease. For this reason, I met several Turkish journalists and members of the opposition during my last visit to Turkey in late May and expressed my support for their work.
On 20 June, Erol Önderoğlu, the representative of Reporters without Borders in Turkey, Prof. Şebnem Korur Fıncancı, the President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and the writer Ahmet Nesin were charged with terrorist propaganda and placed in custody. They are accused of supporting terrorist propaganda after each of them acted as chief editor for a day in May of the pro‑Kurdish “Özgür Gündem” as part of a campaign organised by the newspaper.