EU and Prestigious NGO`s call Erdogan for amnesty
by Roni Alasor
Brussels, 30 March 2020 - Middle East Diplomatic - European Parliament’s standing Rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor, the Chair of the European Parliament`s Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Sergey Lagodinsky and 27 internationally respected human rights NGOs call Turkish president Erdogan for release of imprisoned journalists, human rights defenders and politicians, now at risk of Covid-19.
In the shadow of the Covid-19, the turkish AKP-government and its ally, the ultra-nationalist party MHP preparing right now a draft law that will reportedly release 100,000 of 300.000 prisoners, which will mostly cover criminals, according turkish media.
In Turkey, there are currently hundreds of journalists, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, politicians, academics, human rights defenders, artists and others who are in pre-trial detention or serving sentences without evidence that they committed any violent act or crime.
In a press release, the EU Rapporteur on Turkey and Chair of the European Parliament`s Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee said that "It is crucial to apply this in a non-discriminatory and objective way, based on health criteria and on the risks that released prisoners may pose to society".
In a statement, the 27 international human rights organisation welcoming the draft law but asking that the draft law should also include the imprisoned journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others: “This includes high profile journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan, Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, and businessman and civil society figure Osman Kavala, in addition to many more academics, rights defenders and journalists. Demirtaş has previously reported heart-related health problems in prison, and both Altan and Kavala are over 60 years old meaning they could be at increased risk from Covid-19. These people should not be detained at all, excluding them from release would only compound the serious violations they have already suffered”.
The international right groups invite Turkish authorities to use this opportunity to “immediately release unjustly imprisoned people, and give urgent consideration to the release of those who have not been convicted of any offence and those who are at particular risk in prison from a rapidly spreading disease in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions where their health cannot be guaranteed”.
Signatories : ARTICLE 19; Punto24, Platform for Independent Journalism ; Amnesty International; ARTICOLO 21; Association of European Journalists (AEJ); Cartoonists’ Rights Network International (CRNI); Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ); Danish PEN; English PEN; European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF); European Federation of Journalists (EFJ); Freedom House; Frontline Defenders; German PEN; Index on Censorship; Initiative for Free Expression – Turkey (IFoX); International Press Institute (IPI); IPS Communication Foundation/bianet; IFEX – the Global Network Defending and Promoting Free Expression; Norwegian PEN; Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT); PEN Canada; Reporters Without Borders (RSF); South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO); Swedish PEN; Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project (TSLP); Wan-Ifra/World Association of News Publishers.