Ban Ki-moon urges “quick release” of RSF’s Turkey representative

Following a meeting with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) yesterday in New York City, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon expressed “great concern” about the detention of RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoglu and the wish that Önderoglu would be “quickly released” by the Turkish authorities.

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A strong international coalition is building for the release of Önderoglu and the two other people who were arrested at the same time on 20 June on “terrorist propaganda” charges – Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), and Ahmet Nesin, a journalist and author.

After meeting yesterday with RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, Ban voiced his “great concern” about the latest arrests in Turkey and, referring to Önderoglu, his “hope that he would be quickly released.”

Ban commended RSF for its courageous and vital work in protecting media freedom and freedom of speech, and shared the concern expressed by Deloire about the increased threats, attacks and arrests of journalists worldwide who are just doing their job.

Many other officials around the world have voiced concern about the three detained media freedom defenders and have stressed their support. They include European Parliament president Martin Schulz, who tweeted: “Turkish government gagging journalists goes on unabated. Yesterday’s arrest of Erol Önderoglu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin are against free press and EU values.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also expressed strong concern. “Silencing these individuals, and thereby curbing pluralistic debate, is deeply damaging to not only the affected individuals and their loved ones, but also to society as a whole,” OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatović said. “The authorities should drop the charges and stop using imprisonment as a way to fight differing voices.”

The arrests go “against Turkey’s commitment to respect the fundamental rights, including freedom of media”, said Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs. “The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as a candidate country, must aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices.”

Council of Europe commissioner for human rights Nils Muiznieks twitted. “Appalled by detention of human rights defenders in Turkey. I will take this up with the authorities.”

Turkey is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 23.06.2016