Statement by Ambassador John Bass on free expression – January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016

We are seeing reports of academics being investigated and subjected to penalties for expressing their opinions about the conflict in the southeast. While we may not agree with the opinions expressed by those academics, we are nevertheless concerned about this pressure having a chilling effect on legitimate political discourse across Turkish society regarding the sources of and solutions to the ongoing violence.  In democratic societies it is imperative that citizens have the opportunity to express their views, even controversial or unpopular ones.

Expressions of concern about violence do not equal support for terrorism.  Criticism of government does not equal treason.  Turkish democracy is strong enough and resilient enough to embrace free expression of uncomfortable ideas.