A debate on freedom of expression in Turkey was held on 3 November in the Sala de Atos of the Institute of Social Sciences (University of Minho), in an initiative of Amnesty International’s Braga Center and CECS. Dulce Furtado, Amnesty International’s Press Officer was present in order to talk about the situation of the last two years in Turkey. She reported the wave of persecution and arrests of journalists that has been felt in that country since 2010 and has intensified since the attempt of a ‘coup d’état’ in 2016. At present, there are 120 journalists detained, more than 2.500 lost their jobs and 156 media outlets were closed.
The widespread repression of journalistic activity and the limitations on freedom of expression take place in Turkey despite the fact that its Constitution and the international conventions to which it is a signatory protect these fundamental rights and freedoms. The seriousness of the situation in Turkey led by Recep Erdogan becomes evident when it is known that one-third of all journalists detained in the world are in Turkish prisons.
In the debate, moderated by Luís Santos, researcher and deputy director of the CECS, the central role of the free press in the surveillance of democratic political systems was discussed and, as for human rights organizations, namely Amnesty International, the struggle for freedom of expression as a guarantee against all forms of abuse of power. As Dulce Furtado pointed out, “when something goes wrong in democracies, journalists are always the first targets of violence”.
Text: Rita Ribeiro
Photos: Vítor de Sousa