On the occasion of today’s court case involving Eren Keskin, Aslı Erdoğan and seven other defendants who face criminal proceedings due to their work for the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner, issued the following statement today (4 June):
Today, the world-renowned Turkish human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, a laureate of the Aachen Peace Prize, again had to answer to a court regarding her work as editor-in-chief of the Özgür Gündem newspaper. The fact that more than 140 criminal proceedings have been launched against her in this capacity increases my concern about the freedom of the press in Turkey.
Given this trial, I appeal to Turkey to remember its international obligations. Particularly in the midst of an election campaign, freedom of speech and a strong and independent press are of primordial importance. Thus I hope very much that Ms Keskin and the eight co-defendants will receive a fair trial that does justice to the precious asset that is the freedom of the press.
The lawyer Eren Keskin, founding member and long-serving president of the Human Rights Association in Turkey (IHD) served as editor-in-chief of the Özgür Gündem newspaper from 2013 to 2016. She assumed this role as a symbolic gesture and to show solidarity with the pro-Kurdish newspaper on which pressure was being exerted. Alongside Ms Keskin, eight other defendants are in court connected to involvement with Özgür Gündem. One of them is the internationally renowned writer Aslı Erdoğan. The defendants are in the main accused of having generated propaganda for terrorist organisations with their articles.