Istanbul Police Targeting Journalists Reporting on Taksim Square Protests

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

His Excellency Tuncay Babali, Ambassador of Turkey to Canada
Turkish Embassy in Ottawa
197 Wurtemburg Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 8L9

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE condemns the specific targeting of journalists by the Istanbul police as they attempt to report on the recent protests in Taksim Square. Just today, two CBC correspondents were arrested in Istanbul.

Reports from international free expression organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) indicate that at least 14 journalists have been injured, severely in some cases, whilst trying to cover the recent protests. According to RSF, reporter Fatos Kalaçay was assaulted by police officers while covering the demonstrations, and freelance journalist Ahmet Sik was deliberately hit on the head with a tear gas canister thrown by a police officer while photographing the protests. Today, CBC journalists Saša Petricic and Derek Stoffel, who had been covering the protests, were detained. Reports indicate that journalists have been the deliberate targets of police violence since the protests began.

It is a universal right of all humans to have the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information across any form of media. Compromising both the journalists’ ability to seek and impart information as well as the public’s ability to receive it, the targeting of working journalists by police in Istanbul represents an explicit breach of this fundamental human right.

In accordance with the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CJFE urges the Turkish government to recognize these attacks on journalists as a fundamental abuse of the right to free expression. We ask that journalists in Istanbul be provided with immediate and necessary protection while the protests persist, so that they may perform their jobs safely. And we ask for the immediate release of Derek Stoffel and Saša Petricic.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. John Holmes, Ambassador of Canada to Turkey
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs