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    Oregon lawmakers defend press freedoms in Turkey

    On Monday, the Oregon Legislature sent letters to national and international leaders, urging them to work together to end the mass arrest and detainment of journalists in Turkey.

    Pursuant to House Joint Memorial 16, which was approved by the Legislature earlier this year, letters were sent to President Obama, President Erdo?an of Turkey, Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States Ambassador to Turkey, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, the Secretary General of NATO, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Boehner, and Oregon’s Congressional delegation.

    “In the spirit of friendship, we ask the government of Turkey to halt obstructions to free speech and become recommitted to the values of a free and democratic society,” said Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill), a chief co-sponsor of HJM 16.

    “A stable and democratic Turkey, allied with the United States and NATO positively influences the stability of governments and promotes democracy in the Middle East.”

    The memorial was drafted in response to troubling new laws adopted by the Turkish government that have led to the arrests of newspaper journalists, television producers and script writers seen as reporting information critical of the government.

    Fellow chief co-sponsor Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) said of the measure, “Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of all democratic societies, we in Oregon support this most important of human rights.”

    Weidner emphasized the importance of individuals in the United States speaking out about human rights issues, saying, “During these times, it is imperative that Oregonians and Americans promote the virtues of free speech and advocate for an adherence to democratic principles around the world.”

    In addition to Reps. Weidner and Hoyle, HJM 16 was co-chief sponsored by House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland). The Turkish community in Oregon has also played an active role in reaching out to their elected officials on the importance of this matter.

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