PEN International, in conjunction with the Turkish Publishers Association and the Writers’ Union of Turkey, made a declaration earlier this week to call attention to the dire state of freedom of expression in Turkey.
In a message of solidarity, John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, wrote:
A year ago some twenty writers from around the world, all of us leaders within PEN International, came to Turkey to call on the President of the Republic, as well as the government, and to speak widely in public, in solidarity with the writers of Turkey and their right to freedom of expression. Twelve months later we are deeply disappointed by the actions of the government.
When a citizen exercises their freedom of expression they are engaging in a patriotic act. Whether expressing ideas unpopular with those who hold power or criticizing institutions or policies with which they disagree, writers, journalists, individuals who choose to speak up are fulfilling their public role. It is deeply disturbing that the writers of Turkey, including many journalists, continue to be prosecuted, convicted and jailed in a system of law which seems to have turned its back on justice…
Earlier this month, PEN had issued a press release in support of journalists who had been convicted under terror statutes in Turkey.