Downing Street protest: Hundreds voice anger ahead of Erdogan visit


Index on Censorship magazine editor Rachael Jolley leads chants in support of Turkey's jailed journalists ahead of Erdogan visit to Downing Street

Index on Censorship magazine editor Rachael Jolley leads chants in support of Turkey’s jailed journalists ahead of Erdogan visit to Downing Street

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street today ahead of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May.

Index joined English Pen, Reporters Without Borders, Cartoonist Rights Network International and dozens of protesters to call on the British government to hold president Erdogan accountable for the ongoing crackdown on journalists and free speech within Turkey following the attempted coup in July 2016. Other groups, including the Kurdish Solidarity Campaign, also demonstrated against Erdogan’s visit in large numbers.

Addressing the crowd, Index on Censorship magazine editor Rachael Jolley said: “If Theresa May cares about free speech, if this government cares about free speech and free expression, this should be on the table for this meeting with President Erdogan. “This British government often talks about its commitment to free speech, so let’s see the sign of this in its international politics. How can we believe in a government’s commitment to free expression if it is willing to meet international leaders where free expression is massively threatened and they do not talk about that.”

Under the state of emergency declared since the intended coup in 2016, voices critical of the Turkish government have seen a major crackdown.


Demonstrators call for a #freeturkeymedia A post shared by Index on Censorship (@indexcensorship) on


A post shared by Index on Censorship (@indexcensorship) on


New “intimidation” laws could prevent legal protests and limit speech

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The UK Prime Minister’s proposals for possible new laws to stop “intimidation” against politicians have the potential to prevent legal protests and free speech that are at the core of our democracy, says Index on Censorship. One hundred years after the suffragette demonstrations won the right for women to have the vote for the first time, a law that potentially silences angry voices calling for change would be a retrograde step.

“No one should be threatened with violence, or subjected to violence, for doing their job,” said Index chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. “However, the UK already has a host of laws dealing with harassment of individuals both off and online that cover the kind of abuse politicians receive on social media and elsewhere. A loosely defined offence of ‘intimidation’ could cover a raft of perfectly legitimate criticism of political candidates and politicians – including public protest.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Don’t lose your voice. Stay informed.” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_separator color=”black”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is a nonprofit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. We publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech. We believe that everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution – no matter what their views.

Join our mailing list (or follow us on Twitter or Facebook) and we’ll send you our weekly newsletter about our activities defending free speech. We won’t share your personal information with anyone outside Index.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][gravityform id=”20″ title=”false” description=”false” ajax=”false”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator color=”black”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Labour Party conference: No place for a free press


Jeremy Corbyn speaks at Labour Party conference in Brighton in 2017. Credit: DaveLevy/Flickr

Jeremy Corbyn speaks at Labour Party conference in Brighton, September 2017. Credit: DaveLevy/Flickr

During his first speech at conference as Labour Party leader in September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn called for an end to “personal abuse” and urged delegates to “treat people with respect”.

“Cut out the cyber-bullying and especially the misogynistic abuse online,” he added. “I want kinder politics.”

Two years on the message hasn’t gotten through.

On 24 September 2017, the second day of this year’s party conference, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg was assigned bodyguards after receiving abusive threats online.

The BBC had also decided to bolster Kuenssberg’s personal protection during the general election in June after she faced threats over alleged bias in her reporting surrounding Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. She has also been accused of partiality by Conservative and Ukip supporters.

“It is unprecedented that a journalist would need protection to do her job covering a political conference in the UK, which makes this all the more troubling,” Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s’ Mapping Media Freedom project, said. “Laura’s case indicates that sexist online abuse against women journalists has become part of the job, and it’s affecting not only the safety of reporters but also a functioning free press.”

Two other journalists were refused entry altogether to the conference. On 23 September, Sussex police refused to give Huck magazine editor Michael Segalov a press security clearance required to attend. Segalov wrote that he applied for press accreditation three months prior to the conference but was informed the evening of 19 September that it had been denied based on the police’s refusal to grant him security clearance.

“Rather than provide reasons and rationale for our journalistic freedom being curtailed, the police said they would not divulge why they made their call,” Segalov wrote. He has never been arrested, charged or convicted of any crime.

“This might be a single incident, but the repercussions should it go unchallenged are worrying. The police restricting the rights of a journalist from attending a political event without giving any rationale, basis or reason puts our civil liberties on the line.”

On 24 September, Michael Walker, a left-wing journalist working for Novara Media, was also barred from entering by police.

“Barring reporters is a form of censorship,” Machlin added. “Political parties interfering with access to events undermines key parts of democracy and sends a clear message from the labour party to all other journalists.”

Earlier this year, Corbyn’s press team barred Buzzed from campaign events. On 9 May, in the run-up to the general election, a senior Corbyn aide told BuzzFeed News political editor Jim Waterson that his access was limited and that the website’s access to the Labour leader would be limited for the rest of the campaign. This was because of an interview with Corbyn published on 8 May had “disrupted media coverage of Labour’s launch event”, the website reported.

Buzzfeed published a piece quoting Corbyn that he remain as the party’s leader even if he lost the election. Corbyn told the BBC he had only said he would stay in power because they would win. BuzzFeed then published an extract of the interview, which showed they had quoted him accurately.

Waterson later regained access to the leader.

Such violations to media freedom are not limited to the Labour Party, however. Also in the run-up to the election, three journalists for Cornwall Live were shut in a room, prevented from filming and severely limited on what questions they could ask during Conservative prime minister Theresa May’s visit to a factory in Cornwall.

A reporter from Cornwell Live who was live-blogging the event wrote: “We’ve been told by the PM’s press team that we were not allowed to stand outside to see Theresa May arrive.”

On two occasions in April 2017, Conservative-run Thurrock Council in Essex said they would restrict access to journalists who “do not reflect the council’s position accurately”.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June, the Kensington and Chelsea Council, which has been Conservative-run since 1964, tried to prevent journalists from attending its first after the atrocity. The council had sought to exclude the public and media from the cabinet meeting, arguing their presence would risk disorder. But after a legal challenge from five media organisations, a high court judge ordered the council to allow accredited journalists to attend half an hour before the meeting was due to start. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1507044011187-4d3c340a-bdf9-4″ taxonomies=”6564″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Mapping Media Freedom: Journalists barred from covering Theresa May event

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Mapping Media Freedom

Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout the European Union and neighbouring countries. Here are five recent reports that give us cause for concern.

United Kingdom: Journalists prevented from covering Theresa May visit

2 May 2017 – Three journalists for Cornwall Live were shut in a room, prevented from filming and severely limited on what questions they could ask during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to a factory in Cornwall called AP Diving.

A reporter from Cornwell Live who was live blogging the event wrote: “We’ve been told by the PM’s press team that we were not allowed to stand outside to see Theresa May arrive.”

He later added: “PM is here – but we’ve been shown the door. The prime minister is behind this door – but we can’t show you. Her press team has said print journalists are not allowed to see her visiting the company.”

The journalist then described conditions surrounding the interview with May: “We’ve been allowed to ask our questions to the prime minister (although we are forbidden to film or photograph her answering them).”

The Netherlands: Journalist faces rape threats following post on popular blog

7 May 2017 – Loes Reijmer, a journalist and columnist for De Volkskrant, has faced a storm of abuse after the popular right-wing blog Geenstijl published her photo with the text: “Would you do her?”

Thousands of readers responded in the comments section, many containing sexual comments and rape threats.

Reijmer had published several critical columns about the controversial weblog Geenstijl, a provocative online portal, owned by Telegraaf Media Group and is one of the most popular news sites in the Netherlands. Geenstijl has faced years of criticism for similar posts.

The attack on Reijmer led to a public call on advertisers to boycott Geenstijl and it’s affiliate video blog Dumpert. The dailies De Volkskrant and NRC published an open letter on 6 May 2017 signed by over a hundred women from media and entertainment calling big companies to pull out their advertisement because they “support humiliation of women”. Over the following days, many advertisers withdrew their adverts.

The Dutch Union for Journalists has condemned Geenstijl in a statement on their website: “The tarnish way in which journalists like Reijmer are being attacked by readers, this provocation by Geenstijl, is one of many cases of intimidation of journalists. In this case, it was sexual harassment, something that female journalists who have the guts to be critical are increasingly facing, which is unacceptable.”

Azerbaijan: Manager of independent online TV channel detained

2 May 2017 – Aziz Garashoglu, one of the managers of an online TV platform Kanal 13, was detained and then sentenced to 30 days in administrative detention.

Garashoglu was detained together with his wife Lamiya Charpanova who is an editor at the channel. Both were questioned for more than an hour.

Charpanova was released, while her husband was taken to Nasimi district court where he was sentenced to 30 days in administrative detention on charges of allegedly resisting the police.

Speaking to journalists after the hearing, lawyer Elchin Sadigov said Aziz was rounded up for his alleged resemblance to a man named Faig Cabbarov, who has been on the list of fugitives since 2015. But the lawyer also confirmed that after seeing the picture it was clear there was no resemblance.

Sadigov said he will be appealing the decision. Kanal 13 was founded in 2010 as an independent online television. One of the founders of the website lives in exile in Germany.

France: Vice journalist injured by police while covering May Day march

1 May 2017 – Videojournalist Henry Langston, who works for Vice UK, was hit by police officers and then injured by a piece of tear gas canister while reporting on a May Day march in Paris, Langston reported on Twitter and confirmed to Mapping Media Freedom.

The journalist said he was first hit across the knee with a baton by an officer.

Langston reported that the protest was “very violent on both sides” and that he and his crew were “following a group of anarchists” during the incident.

Police officers were aiming flash-balls (a non-lethal hand-held weapon) at people’s heads, firing tear gas canisters directly at people. It seems to me they weren’t differentiating between protesters and journalists”.

“Later, the crowd was trapped against a wall. Police hit you [with batons] no matter who you were. Then they let people out and continued hitting them. I was wearing a helmet that said TV and they hit me anyway”, Langston continued.

An hour later Langston said he was hit in the leg by what he alleges “was a mechanism from a tear gas canister”. Langston was treated in hospital for injuries where he received stitches.

His cameraperson, freelancer Devin Yuceil, was also hit in the stomach with a piece of a flash grenade.

Greece: Masked assailants attack Kathimerini offices

24 April 2017 – A group of about 10 masked individuals barged into the offices of Greek daily Kathimerini in Thessaloniki, throwing paint and flyers.

According to a report published on the news website, the flyers had threats written on them, including: “good news is a stone on a journalist’s head”.

The Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA) published a press release on Monday, following the attack: “The board of ESIEA expresses its support to the colleagues and all the employees of the newspaper and notes that such actions, wherever they come from, will not weaken the morale of journalists for [providing] objective information but the state must do its duty.”

The press released emphasised that journalists and their unions do not give in to blackmails and intimidation attempts pursued by “dark circles”.

All the Greek political parties condemned the attack. The government-leading Syriza said in a statement that acts against the freedom of the press “have no place in the political confrontation,” while the main opposition party, New Democracy expressed its “unequivocal condemnation of the attack by anarchists”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Mapping Media Freedom

Click on the bubbles to view reports or double-click to zoom in on specific regions. The full site can be accessed at[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1494498939864-9d0448a9-e2e1-3″ taxonomies=”6564″][/vc_column][/vc_row]