CHP parliamentarian with his roots in journalism, Utku Çakırözer, visited Cumhuriyet newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, reporter Ahmet Şık and employee Emre İper, who are being held in detention in Silivri Prison. In the course of the visit, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu conveyed via Çakırözer to the public at large his hopes for 2018, which he will enter in jail:
Peace at an unexpected moment
“For our country, I want and await a new dynamism that will enable us at an unexpected moment to reinvigorate the hope for peace and cohabitation. I steadfastly maintain my belief in this. Diversity, pluralism and the right to criticise are the greatest source of nourishment for our democracy looking to our country’s future. I wholeheartedly believe that these are things that must not just be preserved, but supported by all circles of society. In 2018, I await, not just freedom for those imprisoned for thought crimes, but peace, democracy and fraternity for my entire country and all my fellow citizens.”
Hundreds of thousands are asking
Çakırözer, in the statement he made following the visit, criticised Ahmet Şık’s removal from the courtroom without being allowed to speak at the Cumhuriyet trial and said, “One of the most important components of a fair trial is the right for a defence to be freely submitted. If the right to defence is usurped, there can be no fair trial. He was deprived of his most fundamental human right.” Çakırözer, also mentioning that he had told Şık his defence that was obstructed in court had been read by hundreds of thousands within 24 hours, commented, “The hundreds of thousands who read this defence are asking, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ A modern, free democracy based on rights and the law can purely and simply only be attained with freedoms. Ahmet Şık’s removal from the courtroom has once more struck a blow to the freedom of thought and expression that is the greatest need in the country.” Çakırözer visited, along with the Cumhuriyet staffers, other detained journalists Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Die Welt reporter Deniz Yücel along with civil society activist Osman Kavala in the prison.
It cannot go on like this!
Çakırözer, stating that there needed to be an immediate end to the detention of the journalists and activists he had visited, said, “There must finally be an end to the disgrace that comes from being the country that is imprisoning the greatest number of journalists in the world. The journalists and writers I have visited in Silivri have been held apart from their freedom and families for months on account of their writing and comments. This situation should not go on like this. The journalists should walk to freedom at once.”
Uniform attire will cramp democracy
Çakırözer, also conveying his concerns over the “uniform attire” implementation being imposed on convicts and detainees under the latest decree with the force of law, stressed that this was in blatant breach of the presumption of innocence. Further noting that the uniform attire decision would cast a shadow over the sanctity of the right to defence and fair trial principles, he said, “I feel concern that, for example, thanks to the justified reaction journalists who have been unjustly and unlawfully imprisoned for months will display towards this attire, they will be deprived of the right to defence and they will needlessly spend longer in detention. In terms of the consequences it will give rise to, the uniform attire implementation has the prospect of being one of the most significant complicating factors that will negatively impact on social peace in the period to come. This mistake must be undone at once while there is still time.”