The right to tell the truth

Yesterday, thanks to the Italian government pressure and the public mobilization, Gabriele Del Grande has been released, after being imprisoned for more than two weeks in Turkey without a reason

Gabriele is a 35-years-old Italian reporter and blogger. Its main research focus is the issues related to mass migrations and in particular, he is involved in denouncing and analysing the life conditions of migrants in its blog, Fortress Europe. Three years ago, in collaboration with Antonio Augugliaro and Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry, he has realized a documentary, “Io sto con la sposa” (I stand with the bride), that illustrates the real story of five migrants and of their arrival in Lampedusa.

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From the 7th of April Gabriele was in Turkey, in an area that borders on Syria, in order to analyse the situation of the war for the realization of its new book, “Un partigiano mi disse” (A partisan told me), about the Syrian war and the born of Isis. The 9th of April, he has been stopped by the Turkish authorities with the accusation of being in an area forbidden for journalists. From the 9th of April, he has been transferred in a guesthouse in Mugla in segregation. He cannot have access to his phone and its personal goods have been sequestered. But, what is more tragic, he cannot nominate a lawyer. This imprisonment violates the fundamental freedom of the press. Gabriele has been imprisoned for the solely reason of his work: reporting.

Even if he is now free, the situation for the journalists in Turkey is becoming more and more serious. More than 150 journalists are in jail with the accusation of propaganda to terrorism or similar excuses. Opposition journals have been forced to silence and several radio, television channels and newspapers have been closed, due to a special order of the government. Actually, Turkey is the country with the highest number of apprehensions of journalists. This is a clear signal from the Turkish government, that would hide what is really happening in the country by suppressing the opposition.  This extraordinary repression is against the fundamental right of opinion and expression and it is a shame for all of us.

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Opinion and expression are fundamental rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 19), for which “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”. This right includes the freedom of press that should be guaranteed by national states, even if the situation worldwide is far from being positive, such as in Egypt or China. In fact, the press is often the first target of a repression, due to its power to influence others’ opinions.

It must be noted that the freedom of press is not a right of journalists, it is a right of all. Stop for a minute and think about a world without the freedom of the press and of information. Could you imagine something similar? How could we have a political opinion with distorted information? How could we have an idea of the world we are living in?

The detention of Gabriele has not only been a violation of a fundamental human right. It is a lesson for all of us: defend the truth at all costs, because it is our universal and inviolable right. We should be the voice of all journalists that have been forced to silence in Turkey and worldwide. We cannot tolerate such a repression without denouncing it. This violation regards everyone, because tolerating it means accepting the suppression of the freedom of having a different idea. Words scare because they are incredibly powerful. The press is a highly influential tool and could inspire and motivate people against dictators, against inequalities, against injustices. With their work of analysing and reporting real facts, jointly with the appropriate words, journalists could inform people and make their opinions change. And informed people are able to understand what is right and what is not  and to fight for their beliefs. For this reason,  informed people are perceived as dangerous and this is why some governments would prevent people from being informed by suppressing the main source of information. And for this reason, Gabriele and his colleagues have been imprisoned. But Gabriele has not given up and he will come back stronger and his words will be a universal message of freedom.

With his determination and coherence, Gabriele teaches us an important lesson of real journalism, always committed to the truth without compromises.  We feel relieved for the positive outcome of this situation and we greatly welcome Gabriele and his future articles. He will speak also on behalf of his imprisoned colleagues, fighting for their right of informing, and, what is more important, for the right of everyone of being informed.

Valeria Ansaloni

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