24.03.2022 - Press Release - Freedom of Thought and Expression is Indispensable for Democracy
After a police raid in 2019, Simge and Bengül Gargınsu were charged with “possession of banned publications and membership in an illegal organization”. Restrictions have been placed on the individuals' right to free movement and access to healthcare in this protracted process of 3 years and their lives have been made difficult in many ways. We as the Human Rights Platform are closely interested in the trial process set to begin on Friday, 25 March 2022 in the context of Freedom of Thought and Expression.
Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental human rights enshrined in many international documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also regulated by Article 24 of the constitution. This right is meaningful only with the right to freely obtain information and freedom of thought. As a prerequisite for democracy, the right to information and the right to form opinions must be protected for every idea to have a chance of being heard. This right applies to everyone indiscriminately, not only to ideas that are aligned with the dominant discourse, but also to dissenting voices.
Whereas freedom of expression may be restricted with certain exceptions, the freedoms of information and thought are considered absolute. In the mentioned case, the defendants are accused of possessing books categorized as 'banned'. In fact, the issue in this case is the search for a fundamental and absolute right. Everyone should have the right to freely read the books they want and create their own thoughts as they wish. Such restrictions bring polarization and create unrest in society.
We will fight for the effective functioning of democratic processes in our country and respect for the basic human rights of every individual. We will be in front of the Nicosia courthouse at 09.00 on Friday, 25 March 2022 to defend our values in these trying times. We urge everyone to lend support. Freedom of expression and thought is essential for all of us.