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AEJ Turkey’s annual survey of press freedom shows further steps tightening the chains on media’s ability to report the truth

Published on Friday, December 14, 2018

 

AEJ Turkey, with other members of the joint G-9 press freedom Platform, says that 145 journalists are still in jail for their work in Turkey, and another terrible year saw a series of deliberate actions by the government that have further stifled the ability of the media to inform the public. The full report is here:   

 

TURKEY REPORT / 2018: MEDIA FREEDOM SLIDES FURTHER DOWNWARDS

 

AEJ Turkey, as in previous years, worked and organized activities as part of the umbrealla organization G-9 Journalists’ Organizations Platform which brings together leading journalists organizations of the country and whose spokesperson is L. Dogan T?l?c. 

2018 continued to be an extremely difficult year for Turkish journalists, with a succession of moves by the government which worsened even further the environment for media to do their work in the country.

According to the report of the G-9 Platform member Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), in November 2018 there were 145 journalists in Turkish prisons.

Hundreds of journalists are prosecuted for what they wrote and often courtcases are opened with the accusation of “insulting the president” for news reports written about Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Even photo-journalists have been prosecuted for the photos they took. 

Many journalists who are accused without being detained are banned from travelling abroad.

Media owners who do not directly (and loyally) support the governing party and Erdogan were forced to leave the sector. The biggest media group of the country (Dogan Media Group) was sold within this year to another group (Demiroren) supporting Erdogan/the AK Party.

There are only two companies licensed to distribute newspapers and magazines, and both belong to pro-AKP/Erdogan groups. One of them (YAYSAT), which has 324 emplyees, will be closed before the end of 2018, leaving distribution as a monopoly in the hands of only one group (TURKUVAZ). This is a cause of serious concern for the few remaining opposition papers.

For economic reasons Haberturk daily’s printed edition was closed down, and there is speculation that others will follow it, remaining in the market as an online medium only.

Due to the massive scale of closures of newspapers, periodical newspapers, television and radio stations and news agencies, many thousands of journalists have lost their jobs.

Each month access to some websites are banned by court decisions.

The distribution of press cards is totally under the control of the government, and from now on that authority will be directly in the hands of the Communications Department of the President’s office. .

Thousands of employees of the public broadcaster TRT were forced to retire.

Under such conditions, AEJ Turkey, as a part of the G-9 Platform, organized and took part in the following events and public statements during the year:

 

23 March 2018 – A press statement underlined the problems of press freedom and people’s right to informaticon created by the sale of Dogan Media to the pro-AKP Demiroren Group.

1 May 2018 – AEJ participated in the Labor Day march/demonstration in Ankara under the banner “JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME”. 

3 May 2018 – On World Press Freedom Day a press statement called for a nationwide struggle and solidarity for “INDEPENDENT, PLURALIST AND FREE MEDIA”.

22 June 2018 – A solidarity visit was paid to Cumhuriyet daily and columnist Cigdem Toker who is being prosecuted for libel with a demand for payment of (3 million Turkish Lire), the highest amount of damages ever demanded from a journalist.

22 July 2018 – To protest forced resignations of TRT employees, a press statement entitled “END THE PERSONNEL SLAUGHTER IN TRT” was issued.

26 October 2018 – In protest at the expulsion of the Fox TV reporter from a press conference because of a question she asked to Agriculture and Forestry minister, the G-9 Platform put out a press statement entitled “JOURNALISM IS ASKING QUESTIONS!”.

21 November 2018 – A joint statement also supported by the UNI, IFJ and EFJ was made to protest the oppression of TRT employees. The statement was simultaneously read at 12:30 in front of the TRT General Directorate in Ankara and in front of regional drectorates in Diyarbakir, Izmir and Istanbul. 

At 20:00 hours a twitter campaign with the hashtag  # TRT BELONGS TO PEOPLE was organized.

Throughout the year, L. Dogan Tilic, as AEJ Honorary Vice President and Turkey representative, also participated in numerous panels and conferences, speaking about press freedom and journalism related issues.