March 13, 2015

Atmosphere of intolerance becoming ever more ingrained, says PfF report

A press freedom report released on Friday says the atmosphere of intolerance, especially towards journalists, is becoming ever more ingrained in Turkey, citing the suing of three journalists by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, ongoing accreditation issues and the detention of journalists.

The February report, released by Press for Freedom Project (PfF), underlines the deteriorating state of press freedom in Turkey. In February, Davutoğlu filed a complaint against Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, Managing Editor Celil Sağır and columnist Sevgi Akarçeşme over tweets on their individual Twitter accounts.

The PfF report, which is a Journalists Association project funded by the European Union, also highlights how the increase of hate crimes and violence towards women, especially the murder of Özgecan Arslan, has shaped public discussion. Forty-seven women were murdered in the first two months of this year, predominantly by male family members, on pretexts of family honor and other related circumstances. The report emphasizes that violence towards women is not a “women's issue” but a “social issue.”

The project issues monthly reports documenting violations of press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey. The latest report states: “Censorship against the reporters and cameramen of some media organizations during official visits and meetings, the press conference held at Bank Asya after the takeover by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) and the joint press conferences held with the EU authorities were unacceptable.”

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) on Feb. 3 ruled that management control of 63 percent of the privileged shares of Bank Asya held by A-type shareholders be handed over to the state-run TMSF.

The latest PfF report criticizes the continued detention of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group President Hidayet Karaca since Dec. 14, 2014, on charges of “leadership of a terrorist organization” based on a soap opera broadcast by Samanyolu TV five years ago. The report also covers Karaca's comments in the UK-based newspaper The Guardian, on Feb. 11. Below the headline, “Arrested Turkish TV chief writes an open letter from his jail cell” Karaca said: “Any journalist who uncovers the dirty laundry of senior government officials is immediately labeled a traitor and subjected to character assassination, harassment, persecution and even prosecution under trumped-up charges with no evidence at all.”

Karaca was detained along with dozens of journalists, scriptwriters and police officers including Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor-in-chief of the best-selling Zaman daily, in the Dec. 14, 2014 media backlash. Despite the release of most of the detainees, Karaca has been awaiting trial from prison for more than two months.

Published on Cihan, 13 March 2015, Friday