Solidarity address of the laureates of Leipzig Media Award with Turkish journalists

Because of the current situation in Turkey, the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig has initiated a solidarity address of the laureates of the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media for their Turkish colleagues. On 7 October, 2016, this solidarity address was published on the occasion of the awarding of the Prize to Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The list of signatories is constantly being expanded.

Solidarity address

We, the laureates of the Leipzig "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media" subscribing this resolution, strongly condemn the persecution of Turkish journalists, columnists and authors Ahmet Altan, Nedim Şener, Erdem Gül and Can Dündar, the endangerment of the independent work of hundreds of other Turkish journalists, and the continuing restriction of freedom of expression, media and press in Turkey.These four journalists, everyone himself a laureate of the Leipzig "Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media", are exemplary for the massive action of the Turkish state against media and journalists critical against the government both before and after the failed coup d'état in July 2016.

In September 2016, Ahmet Altan and his brother have been arrested repeatedly - both are alleged of being involved into the failed coup d'état carried out by parts of the Turkish military on 15 and 16 July, 2016. Both are still imprisoned. Nedim Şener was prosecuted for several times because of his research on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were brought to trial because of their media coverage about the involvement of the Turkish state into Syrian civil war. Currently, Can Dündar lives abroad, but his wife is not allowed to leave Turkey - a procedure which is adjacent to a form of collective liability. Similarly, Erdem Gül is restricted in his freedom to travel because his passport has been revoked by the Turkish government.

We reject any attempt to form a government in a non-democratic way. It is the task of a state leadership in a democratic society to guarantee democratic elections, to ensure the contest of opinions, to pacify competing political views to achieve the common good, to protect democratic political minorities from persecution, to preserve the division of powers, and to promote an independent judiciary.

As the examples of the Leipzig Media Prize laureates and numerous other Turkish journalist demonstrate, Turkish government systematically prevents a pluralistic formation of opinion since years by accusing critical journalists of being terrorists, by persecuting them with flimsy reasons or by restricting the work of non-governmental media by prohibitions and repressions.

We call on the Turkish Government and the Turkish judiciary to provide evidence for the supposed participation of numerous government-critical journalists or media in the attempted coup d'état. We urge the Turkish government to return to democratic and constitutional principles for all journalists and media professionals. We demand an end to politically motivated legal persecution of journalists, publishers, editors and media. We call on all Turkish journalists to refrain from journalistically and propagandistically prejudging their colleagues. We call for the rebirth of freedom of speech, press and media in Turkey – according to the first article of the European Charter for Press Freedom:

"Freedom of the press is essential to a democratic society. To uphold and protect it, and to respect its diversity and its political, social and cultural missions, is the mandate of all governments."

The signatories
(As of 1 November, 2016)

Ahmet Altan, Turkey (Laureate 2009)

Dr Roman Arens, Germany (Laureate 2004 for Journalisten helfen Journalisten association)

Jörg Armbruster, Germany (Laureate 2013)

Ides Debruyne - Founder and Managing Director of, Belgium (Laureate 2013)

Can Dündar, Turkey (Laureate 2016)

Martin Durm - SWR broadcasting, Germany (Laureate 2013)

Renate Flottau, Germany (Laureate 2001)

Akbar Ganji, Iran (Laureate 2007)

Fabrizio Gatti - Chief reporter of L’Espresso, Italy (Laureate 2006)

Seymour Hersh, USA (Laureate 2005)

Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, Afghanistan (Laureate 2010)

Roland Jahn - Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records, Germany (Laureate 2014)

Professor Volker Lilienthal - Professor of Practical Quality Journalism, Hamburg University, Germany (Laureate 2006)

Thomas Mayer, Germany (Laureate 2001)

Dušan Miljuš, Croatia (Laureate 2009)

Balázs Nagy Navarro - Chairman of Supervisory Board of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Hungary (Laureate 2012)

Farida Nekzad, Afghanistan (Laureate 2014)

Jafar Panahi, Iran (Laureate 2015)

Ana Lilia Pérez, Mexico (Laureate 2012)

Britta Petersen, Germany (Laureate 2005)

Aram Radomski (Laureare 2014)

Tongam Rina - Editor of Arunachal Times, India (Laureate 2013)

Bettina Rühl, Germany (Laureate 2012)

Siegbert Schefke, Germany (Laureate 2014)

Julia Stein - 1st chairwoman of netzwerk recherche association, Germany (Laureate 2003)

Aranka Szávuly, Hungary (Laureate 2012)

Dr Wolfram Weimer, Germany (Laureate 2007)

Simone Wendler - Chief reporter of Lausitzer Rundschau, Germany (Laureate 2002)

Christoph Wonneberger, Germany (Laureate 2014)

Assen Yordanov - Director of investigative website Bivol, Bulgaria (Laureate 2010)