CWA Canada has appealed to the Turkish envoy in Ottawa to “take a stand against authoritarianism” after a court in Istanbul on Thursday sentenced 25 journalists to jail terms on false terrorism charges.
In a letter to Ambassador Selçuk Unal, President Martin O’Hanlon expressed the media union’s “grave concern over the crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey and the intimidation and jailing of journalists.”
“According to the Stockholm Centre for Freedom, 245 media workers are currently in prison in Turkey, making it the biggest jailer of journalists in the world,” O’Hanlon wrote.
Reuters reported on Thursday that 25 journalists were given prison terms ranging from two to seven years for allegedly aiding the network that Turkey accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.
In his letter, O’Hanlon also cited the recent sentencing to life in prison of Ahmet Altan, former chief editor of Taraf, a daily newspaper.
“These outrageous abuses of power, combined with the Erdogan regime’s crackdown on the fundamental right of freedom of expression, are a stain on Turkey — a formerly progressive, secular country — that tarnish its reputation and undermine its democratic integrity,” wrote O’Hanlon.
“We ask you to be on the right side of history, take a stand against authoritarianism, and tell your government to end its attacks on freedom of expression. The whole world is watching.”