The German Federation of Journalists, the German Journalists Union and Reporters Without Borders have launched a campaign in support of Evrensel.
In a display of sensitivity over the repression of the press in Turkey, German journalism organizations and journalists have launched a campaign in support of Evrensel, an independent labour-movement-focussed daily and one of the few remaining opposition titles.
Renowned journalists working on the Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Neues Deutschland, Junge Welt and Freitag newspapers number among the champions of the campaign, which is also supported by representatives of Germany’s three largest journalist organizations, Frank Überall, President of the German Federation of Journalists (DJV), Peter Freitag, Vice-President of the Ver.di trade union-affiliated German Journalists Union (DJU), and Christian Mihr, Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders.
Daniela Dahn, one of Germany’s best-known authors, actor Rolf Becker, writer Werner Rügemer and Editor-in-Chief of the Melodie & Rhythmus magazine, Suzann Witt-Stahl, are also supporting the campaign.
PRESS FREEDOM KNOWS NO BORDERS
The declaration published under the title “Press freedom knows no borders. Call for practical solidarity with the Turkish daily Evrensel,” reads:
A living democracy needs a free and independent media like air to breathe. As to how critical current conditions are in Turkey, this can be gleaned in no small way from the way the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan treats critical journalistic voices.
Since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, more than 170 newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations, news agencies and publishers have been closed down for allegedly threatening “national security”. Well over 100 journalists have been arrested and more than 700 press cards have been annulled. Turkey currently ranks 157th among 180 in the Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.
Working conditions have worsened dramatically for those colleagues who have not yet lost their freedom or jobs. Meanwhile, there are only very few media outlets in Turkey that still cannot be described as toeing the line. One of these is the daily Evrensel.
But its existence is also under acute threat. Individual issues of the left-wing, trade-union-aligned newspaper are regularly confiscated. There is an endeavour, through costly legal proceedings, to annihilate the paper economically. It is repeatedly given hefty fines for supposedly insubordinate articles. Editorial members are liable to arbitrary arrests. It is no easy task to withstand such tactics and it consumes a lot of energy. Our solidarity and support is all the more important just now.
Until July 2016, Evrensel’s Istanbul central editorial office shared premises with a TV station critical of the government, Hayatın Sesi TV. Alongside these, there was also the monthly cultural magazine Evrensel Kültür. However, both were among the media outlets that were shut down following the state of emergency in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt. Their assets were confiscated. So, now only Evrensel remains. The question, though, is for how much longer?
The daily, founded in 1995, is fighting for its survival. There are different ways of silencing inconvenient journalism in Turkey. Economic harassment can be just as effective as state bans. This is clearly what the autocratic Erdoğan regime is embarking on in the case of Evrensel. The financial situation of the paper is truly becoming ever more precarious due to the imposition of fines, an advertising boycott by public bodies and the drastic increase in the price of paper. However, the editorship continues to fight undaunted for democratic conditions in Turkey.
Let us help it not to run out of breath! We must not leave our colleagues in Turkey alone. The struggle for the freedom of press and opinion is international. We thus hereby appeal for financial support to Evrensel. Let us by these means ensure that this small, important newspaper can continue to withstand the enormous economic and political pressure.”
The number of journalists and organizations supporting the campaign is expected to increase in the days ahead. A website has also been set up for the campaign. (Cologne/EVRENSEL)