To the Editors:
We are appalled that, since January 1992, thirteen journalists have been murdered in Turkey in what appear to be reprisals for having exercised their right to freedom of expression and information; a right guaranteed under international law which the Turkish government is bound to uphold and protect.
Responsibility for one of these murders has been claimed by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Of ten others, there are strong suspicions that the State was involved, and in particular there is clear evidence of State involvement in the murders of Halit Gungen and Izzet Kezer.
We are deeply concerned that the Turkish government has failed to pursue with adequate vigor investigations into these murders and by the denial—in some cases—that those killed were in fact journalists. Failure to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice not only means that the killers remain free to commit further murders, but it conveys an ominous signal that the killing of journalists is acceptable practice.
The right to freedom of expression and information is a precious right, vital for the protection of all other human rights and as a foundation for democracy. We urge the Turkish government to demonstrate its commitment to this right by doing all in its power to bring to justice those responsible for the thirteen deaths and to prevent further attacks of any kind on media professionals in Turkey.
We call on the Turkish government to comment on this matter and above all to put into practice specific measures and actions to better protect the right to seek, receive and impart information in Turkey.
E. L. Doctorow
Mario Vargas Llosa