December 15, 2014

Journalism associations issue mass condemnations over detainments

Leading Turkish journalist unions and associations slam the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for media crack down, amidst wave of detainments on Sunday.

Turkey's anti-terrorism units raided headquarters of the Zaman daily, on Sunday, and detained its editor-in-chief amid protests by the newspaper staff, opposition politicians and readers gathered in front of the building.

In an official declaration, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGC) expressed that the raid violated the public’s freedoms and rights to obtain information “There is no room for punishment of freedom of expression and media in democracy.”

The TGC also drew upon the fact that the detainments were conducted on the dubious allegation of, ‘membership to a terrorist organization’, which, according to the union, has been a pretext frequently used to persecute members of the press. “Until today, approximately 200 journalists have been jailed in Turkey, without fair trial, on alleged membership to a terrorist organization.”

Turkish Journalist Federation (TGF) Chairman Atilla Sertel underlined the timing of the detainments, noting that the raids came just days prior to the anniversary of the December 17-25 corruption probes, which had implicated the government including four ex-ministers;

“It is clear that the raid against media, harbors intent to sway public attention away from the December 17-25 graft probe. They are trying to punish members of press who write about corruption and pursue the four ministers.”

Progressive Journalists' Association (ÇGD) chairman Yüksel Baysal called for an “immediate” halt to the operations against the media, referring to the wave of detainments as a “smear campaign” targeting the journalists.

Stating that detainments of the journalists as a plot to undermine democracy, Mardin Journalist’ Union head Mehmet Çelik expressed that the “It would be a horrible situation for Turkey’s future, if the case is, that the journalists have been detained for their views”. Çelik strongly emphasized that the raids “will damage Turkey’s image across the globe.”

ÇGD Mediterranean Brach Head Bünyamin Tokmak called on all media groups to raise their voice against the raid, “Journalists cannot ignore the implications of the raid with a simple ‘I don’t care’.”

Published on BGNNews, 14 December 2014, Sunday