May 20, 2015

European Parliament rapporteur concerned over attempt to silence media in Turkey

The European Parliament's (EP) Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri has expressed concern over recent allegations that the Turkish government is planning to cancel broadcast of TV stations, radio stations, websites and printed publications critical of the government.“To be honest, we are worried about certain developments,” she said, “developments regarding the independence of the judiciary, freedom of express, press freedoms and the arrest of journalists,” the Dutch Social Democrat said at a press conference on Wednesday.

According to media reports, Ankara public prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, who is responsible for the Bureau for Crimes against the Constitutional Order, sent a document to the Turkish Satellite Communications Company (TÜRKSAT) Directorate General on April 27, asking it to prevent a state-owned satellite connection being used by these media outlets.

The reason behind the controversial move, which has come shortly before June's general election, is allegedly the anti-government media outlets' "creating polarization in the society and terrorizing people." If the prosecutor's demand is carried out, opposition parties will be deprived of the means to conduct their campaigns and convey their messages to the nation for the June election because most of the media in Turkey, which is controlled by the AK Party government, give little or no coverage to the election campaigns of the opposition parties.

The Turkish media reported that the prosecutor's demand came as part of an investigation into claims about the “parallel structure,” and particularly targets the media outlets inspired by the Gülen movement. The demand reportedly includes “TV stations, radio stations, websites and printed publications.”

The “parallel structure” is a term invented by President Erdoğan after a massive corruption scandal to refer to members of the Gülen movement -- which is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- who allegedly operate from within the police and the judiciary.

The government has failed to offer any evidence indicating such a structure exists in the government since December of 2013 when senior members of Erdoğan's government who was the prime minister at the time were implicated in a massive graft scandal. In addition, there is no court decision classifying the movement as "armed terrorist organization" as is claimed by pro-government circles.

Published on Today's Zaman, 20 May 2015, Wednesday