One-hundred-fifty journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, the world’s leading jailer of journalists. The vast majority of those held were detained – many arbitrarily and without formal charges – as part of a sweeping government crackdown on independent media following the July 2016 coup attempt. At the same time, government pressure on Turkey’s judicial system has compromised the separation of powers and the rule of law, leaving journalists unable to effectively defend their constitutional rights in court.

In April 2017 Turkey will hold a referendum on constitutional changes that would vastly expand the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The International Press Institute (IPI) and Presseclub Concordia invite interested members of the public to a panel discussion and networking event in Vienna with leading lawyers, academics and journalists from Turkey, including:

Fikret İlkiz, celebrated media lawyer, former editor-in-chief, Cumhuriyet; former president, Turkish Penal Law Association
Ceyda Karan, columnist, Cumhuriyet and IPI member
Yaman Akdeniz, professor, Human Rights Law Research Center, Istanbul Bilgi University
Zeynep Erdim, journalist, BBC World Turkey
Fehim Işık, journalist, Evrensel

Moderator: Petra Ramsauer, freelance journalist and author

Panellists will examine the media crackdown in Turkey from their first-person perspectives and discuss the coming challenge proposed constitutional changes in the referendum may pose to media freedom. The discussion will analyse the role that the European Union can play in protecting fundamental rights in Turkey and will serve as a networking platform to further strengthen relationships of solidarity between the journalistic and legal communities in Austria and Turkey, and Europe at large.

At the conclusion of the discussion, attendees will be invited to join in a gesture of solidarity with journalists imprisoned in Turkey as part of IPI’s #freeturkeyjournalists campaign.