December 22, 2014

Crackdown on Turkish media protested around the world

The Turkish government's recent crackdown on media targeting critical journalists has been met by a number of protests outside the country.

Hundreds of Turkish-Americans gathered at the UN building in New York and protested the raid against the free media on Saturday. The protesters also expressed support for the Beşiktaş fan club Çarşı which a prosecutor recently accused of plotting to topple the government. The protesters carried banners that read “Free media cannot be silenced” and “Çarşı is not alone.”

On Saturday, the president of the New York-based Turkish Cultural Center (TCC), Sadri Altınok, condemned the arrest of Hidayet Karaca and said the crackdown on the media is not based on evidence.

Altınok said the media is not an enemy of the government but the protector of democracy. He argued that the government could not tolerate criticism coming from the media following the corruption investigation that was made public on Dec. 17 of last year, which implicated members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and their relatives, and that the government had initiated the raid on the media in response to the criticism.

“We urge the government to respect all of Turkey's citizens and to act in accordance with justice and the rule of law, to protect media freedoms and to stay away from actions disrupting the democratic order in the country,” he said.

Protests in Boston, Chicago, LA, Brussels, London

Similar protests took place on Friday and Saturday in Boston and Chicago, as well as Brussels and London. The protesters called on the Turkish government to stop its anti-democratic behavior and its violations of the rule of law and urged the government to release the detained journalists.

In Brussels on Friday about 100 people carried Turkish flags and banners reading “Free media cannot be silenced.” Zaman Brussels Bureau Chief Selçuk Gültaşlı made a speech during this protest and said the ruling party in Turkey has unfortunately drifted toward authoritarianism. He called on everyone who believes in democracy to support the Turkish media.

Gültaşlı also called on the EU not to suspend Turkey's membership negotiations because of the recent anti-democratic moves in Turkey.

In London, protesters covered their mouths with a black band.

During a protest in Los Angeles, Hollywood star Bruce Davison also criticized the raid on the media and likened it to a witch hunt. Davison, who took part in movies such as “X-Men” and the TV series “Lost” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” said it is difficult for him to imagine US President Barack Obama getting The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal editors arrested because he did not like what they report, or the creators of popular television series such as “General Hospital” or “Brighter Show” being arrested due to their condemnation of al-Qaeda.

Davison said he loves Turkey and hates to see incidents like this taking place.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 21 December 2014, Sunday