International Press Freedom Awards

Nedim Şener Acceptance Speech




Jonathan Klein introduces Nedim Şener at the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2013 International Press Freedom Awards.




Nedim Şener  (Posta, Turkey). Acceptance Speech

CPJ International Press Freedom Award 2013. November 26, 2013. Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, New York City

 

As prepared for delivery

 

Respected ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues:

Thank you for this award, which I accept in memory of my colleague Hrant Dink--a good man and a good journalist.

Hrant Dink was threatened by state officials because he had exercised his freedom of expression. He was murdered because state officials turned a blind eye to threats against him and failed to protect his life.

When police took me from my home on March 3, 2011, I left with this motto on my lips: "For Hrant, for Justice!" I spent 376 days in prison, but the strength of that motto never faded. And now, when I'm thousands of miles away from home, I am repeating it again--"For Hrant, for Justice!"

The officials who took me from my home that day are part of the apparatus complicit in Hrant's murder. The government has protected those officials. Because I exposed their complicity and named the police and intelligence officers responsible for Hrant's killing, I was tried as a terrorist. It was those same officers whose involvement in the crime I had exposed who decided my fate.

The whole Turkish judicial system became party to this injustice. I was released after a full year behind bars with no verdict against me. I am still on trial and can be imprisoned for 15 more years. This is how Turkish justice works--instead of bringing journalist killers to trial, journalists are tried as terrorists.

When authorities jailed me, they wanted to destroy the truth I had exposed. But the truth cannot be destroyed or imprisoned. Once it is revealed, it cannot be buried again.

We journalists disagree with politicians on the meaning of democracy. For politicians, democracy means allowing people to vote every four years. For journalists, democracy is an everyday experience. And the essence of that experience is the people's right to be informed. It is no coincidence that the first act of an authoritarian government is to silence the press.

Today, it is harder than ever for governments to keep information concealed. We have never had more communication tools at our disposal. Journalists can gain access to the most secret of truths no matter how hard authorities try to hide them. At the same time, journalists have never faced more attacks than they do today. We risk assassination, abduction, prosecution, imprisonment, and exile--all for doing our job, and doing it well.

Tonight, we remember our colleagues who were abducted, killed, and imprisoned while on duty. Tonight, we remember Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were abducted and murdered in Mali last month. We remember Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, who were killed in Syria. We remember Bashar Kaddumi, who went to Syria on assignment. His wife and children did not hear from him for two years. We remember the dozens of journalists in jail in Iran, China, Eritrea, and in my country, Turkey.

Turkey is a record-breaker. Sixty journalists are jailed there on the accusation of being terrorists--that's more than anywhere else in the world. Most recently, several colleagues received life terms after a trial that shocked the Turkish press corps. I feel compelled to speak for them now. Don't be indifferent to their fate! Demand their release!

The events of Gezi Park over the summer revealed the scope of the press freedom crisis in my country. Thirty journalists were hurt, many were detained, and dozens were fired from their jobs because of their Gezi coverage. But perhaps the gravest problem was that many media outlets did not cover Gezi. Even though dramatic clashes were taking place right outside their windows, many newsrooms chose to self-censor for fear of official repercussions.

There is a red line now that journalists in Turkey know not to cross. The ones who do cross it pay a steep price, and we owe them a great debt.

Enemies of free expression more than anything want to hear the sound of our silence. They want to scare us, incarcerate us, and eliminate us so we cannot speak the truths that we have uncovered. And so we must speak at every opportunity. This is what Hrant Dink would have wanted.

Thank you.

 


2015
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)