Freedom of expression under threat in Europe

Deutsche Welle, By Jan Bruck

On the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN International is warning about developments in Europe. Vice President Sascha Feuchert is particularly worried about Turkey and Hungary.

Since 1980, the writers’ association PEN International (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) has remembered the fate of persecuted, imprisoned or murdered writers and journalists on November 15. In just the first six months of 2012, 25 writers and journalists died because of their work. But it’s not only in China or Syria where authors are persecuted by the authorities.

DW: Mr. Feuchert, marking the Day of the Imprisoned Writer (15.11.2012), your organization, PEN International, is speaking of a loss of democracy in Europe. How should we understand this?

In Europe, there are two points of focus that should be mentioned: one is certainly Turkey. For months, we have experienced that freedom of expression is being suppressed. Turkey has a big problem with it, and if we look at the statistics where the most writers are suppressed, Turkey currently ranks among the very worst in the world.

The second country in Europe which gives us cause for concern is certainly Hungary. In Hungary, there is a democratically legitimate government, yet the measures being taken there are anything but democratic and make us very worried. The suppression of freedom of expression is not just a problem that occurs only in Asia or Africa, but also on our doorstep.

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