İHD Condemns Daily Yeni Şafak for Targeting Human Rights Defenders
7 December 2018
Daily Yeni Şafak used the phrase “PKK supporters” for Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair Öztürk Türkdoğan and İHD Vice Co-Chair Gülseren Yoleri, who attended the 15th International Conference on the “European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds” that took place in the European Parliament, on the front page of its 7 December 2018 issue along with its official website’s headline that read “PKK Show at the European Parliament”, thereby targeting Mr. Türkdoğan and Ms. Yoleri. We condemn the daily for this editorial policy.
As per Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights that prescribes freedom of expression, this right carries with it duties and responsibilities as well. These duties and responsibilities of the press should measure up to both ethical and legal standards. When the press issues news reports, it should simultaneously comply with the ethical criteria of the press and should avoid silencing others on the grounds that it exercises its right to freedom of expression and even giving way to risking their right to life.
Human rights defenders in Turkey have always taken sides with human rights and democracy and have been engaged in a constant struggle to promote and protect them. They have also been and will be insistent on a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish Problem, which is the most significant issue in Turkey. Targeting human rights defenders and labeling them as “PKK supporters” to the public because they demand a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish Problem without shedding any blood is first of all unjust and immoral. We learnt, through bitter experiences, what targeting human rights defenders cost in the past. Many human rights defenders were killed, injured, wrongfully imprisoned, had to leave Turkey, and faced many other negative situations. The fact that the pro-government press has not been able to learn from all these processes is rather grave and exemplary as well. This news report by the daily Yeni Şafak not only does infringe on press ethics but also a blatant violation of the rights of İHD executives having transgressed the lines of freedom of the press.
The 15th International Conference on the “European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds” that took place in the European Parliament was organized by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament, the Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, and the EU-Turkey Civic Commission. The theme of the conference as well as its speakers were announced before the conference. Further, the conference was open to the press and broadcast live by some media institutions. It seems that those who cannot find anything to write, preferred defamation instead.
All necessary legal actions will be taken against the executives of this daily that targeted human rights defenders, the state of affairs will be communicated to the European Parliament and its groups that organized the conference, and the necessary steps will be taken in order for the EU to take more effective measures for the protection of human rights defenders in Turkey. İHD also calls on the Ministry of Justice and journalists’ organizations promoting the ethical standards of the press to duly perform their duties regarding those who are engaged in defamation rather than journalism and target human rights defenders.
Human Rights Association
 In the print version of the daily the headline reads “Terror Show at the European Parliament.”