David Kaye, UN Rapporteur of freedom of expression / UN

18/11/2016 - 16:50 0
UN Rapporteur Says Freedom of Expression 'Grim' in Turkey

The United Nations Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye said on Friday that the situation in Turkey was "grim".

Speaking in Ankara today Kaye warned the Turkish government that it does not have a "blank cheque" in its reaction against July's coup attempt in the country and those it accuses of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"The conclusions I would say are fairly grim and reflect what I think is a deep sense of restriction on freedom of opinion and expression throughout the country."

The legal expert, who will report back to the UN Human Rights Council also warned of the long-term impact of the pressure on academics and teachers.

"If it (the purge) continues, people will leave -- as long as they have access to their passport. They could go teach somewhere else, they could leave the country," he told AFP after a news conference.

"The more academics leave, the less you have educators in the country for the next generation."

During his visit to Turkey Kaye met with five jailed staff from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, as well as acclaimed translator Necmiye Alpay, who was imprisoned for her work with Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem.

However he was denied access to internationally-renowned novelist Asli Erdogan, also jailed on charges of PKK membership for being an advisor to Ozgur Gundem.

Kaye presented a series of initial recommendations, including a call to release all detained journalists and the repeal of defamation legislation which makes it an offence to insult the president and other public officials.

More than 100,000 people within the judiciary, media, military and civil service have been arrested, suspended or sacked since the coup attempt in July.

Kurdish circles have accused the Turkish government of imposing state of emergency law as a tool to target all opposition groups in the country.

34 Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) municipalites have been seized by decree law with 52 co-mayors being removed from office and 39 imprisoned since the failed coup.

10 pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party MPs, including the party's co-chairs have also been imprisoned on charges of being members or supporting the outlawed PKK, which wasn't involved in the coup attempt.

Turkey did not allow a United Nations commission to enter the country to investigate claims of civilian deaths in Cizre in January and February 2016.

Source: AFP,