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UJF calls on Finnish government to press Turkey on media crack down

Union urges Sipilä and Soini to hold Turkey to rights agreements.

The UJF has responded to the crack down on sections of the media in Turkey in the wake of the abortive coup attempt, 15 July, by appealing to Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and Foreign Minister Timo Soini to express their concern at the situation.

In a letter to the two government leaders UJF President Hanne Aho and UJF Ombudsman Juha Rekola urge them to put pressure on the Turkish government to end the attacks on freedom of expression and of the press, which are unprecedented even in the context of the Turkey’s tumultuous political conditions.

“Finland must hold President Erdogan and the Turkish government accountable for compliance with international agreements on human rights, including freedom of expression and trade union rights. Finland must not remain silent when independent media in Turkey is being silenced.”

Since the coup attempt the Turkish government has closed 45 newspapers, 23 radio stations, 16 TV channels, 29 publishing houses, 15 magazines and three news agencies. The government has also purged more than 75 000 civil servants. Over 18 000 people have been detained, more than 14 000 arrested. Some 49 000 passports have been invalidated, 1 229 organizations and foundations have been closed down, 35 hospitals closed, more than 1 000 schools and boarding schools and 15 universities closed. The human rights organization Amnesty International has found evidence of torture and rape of detainees.

The UJF letter points out that the media clampdown also affects the right of people in Finland to know about events in Turkey and the country’s pivotal position in the Middle East and the civil war in Syria.

The Finnish PM and Foreign Minister have yet to reply to the letter. The Union also wrote to Turkey’s Ambassador to Finland, Adnan Basaga, expressing concern “at the unprecedented clampdown on media in Turkey and to urge your government to reverse the widespread attacks targeting journalists and media outlets in the country.”

Mr Basaga wrote back to say that it was “stretching the facts” to talk of a clampdown on the Turkish media, and listed the numbers of media outlets that continue to operate. The Ambassador wrote that the work of journalism does not exempt people from criminal investigation.