Visit to Turkey of Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Board Member of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and former Minister of Justice in Germany, visited Turkey only one month before the important referendum on the presidential system. During her 4-day stay, she had various meetings in Istanbul and Ankara with representatives of local partner organizations, academics, journalists and lawyers. Her main aim was to get information about the challenges local NGOs are facing under the state of emergency ruling in Turkey since the coup d’état on the 15th of July 2016. Since then, President Erdoğan is ruling the country with presidential decrees, closing hundreds of foundations and associations, dismissing thousands of civil servants and hundreds of oppositional academics. Dozens of newspapers, TV stations and media outlets were closed, at least 150 journalists are under arrest.
Under these circumstances of governmental pressure, the Foundation’s local partners are still trying to continue their work. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also had the chance to meet with the Turkish author, Aslı Erdoğan, who was imprisoned for several months, and the lawyer of the German journalist Deniz Yücel, who is now under arrest. Both are accused to be members of a terrorist organization and to spread propaganda. A meeting with Turkish and German journalists gave the chance to get more background information on the constitutional amendments to be voted on the 16th of April and on the incidents in the Netherlands, which took place only 36 hours before the meeting with the journalists. The Turkish-German relations and the Turkish-European refugee deal were the topics of the working lunch with the German ambassador in Turkey.