Index on Censorship is calling on EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle to press Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a meeting today on the need to ensure Turks can exercise freedom of assembly and expression in Turkey.
The commissioner should urge Edrogan to foster dialogue with the protesters and to allow the media to report on the demonstrations without fear of censorship.
Unprecedented demonstrations swept the country in reaction to plans to build a shopping centre on Gezi Park in Istanbul. Police reacted with violence and intimidation.
After a four-day trip abroad, Erdoğan returned to Turkey on Thursday night, where he told a crowd of supporters, “These protests that are bordering on illegality must come to an end immediately”.
Index on Censorship CEO Kirsty Hughes wrote on Monday:
“The EU insists all candidate countries meet its ‘Copenhagen Criteria’ that say candidates must be democracies who respect the rule of law and human rights. Back in 2004, when the Union’s leaders agreed to start talks Turkey was said to “sufficiently meet” those criteria.
“It is no longer clear, given its deliberate creation of media censorship, and the brutality of police in the face of mass protests, that Turkey does meet those criteria. If the EU stands for human rights in its neighbourhood, surely it should make a much stronger, robust condemnation of Turkey’s growing anti-democratic tendencies and its attacks on freedom of expression.”