September 29, 2015

Tivibu and censorship

Erhan Başyurt

Tivibu has set an incredible example of censorship by unilaterally deciding to banish the channels BUGÜN TV, Samanyolu News and Mehtap TV from its digital broadcasting platform.

There are two main objectives for expelling these channels.

First, to censor the broadcasts of independent and impartial media outlets ahead of the elections, in order to prevent the public from being informed of truths.

Second, to eliminate some media outlets ahead of the general elections through which the opposition can express itself, thus preventing their message from reaching the masses.

Tivibu has nearly 2 million subscribers. And that means denying at least 4-5 million voters the right to obtain information.

Tivibu is owned by Türk Telekom, 30 percent of whose shares belong to the Treasury.

Türk Telekom is currently run by quite familiar figures, who have been appointed by the government to the boards of state enterprises, or continue to be President Erdoğan’s close aides:

Abdullah Tivnikli, Yiğit Bulut, İbrahim Eren, Fahri Kasırga and Talat Aydın…

Before every election, we see efforts to prevent the broadcasts of independent and impartial news channels and to put them under pressure.

Pressures on and raids against the Zaman daily, Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, Doğan Group and İpek Media Group.

Lawsuits and pressures targeting Cumhuriyet, Sözcü, BirGün dailies and Nokta magazine…

Lawsuits and pressures targeting social media accounts…

It is a grim reality that Turkey has come to be called the “world’s largest jail for journalists.”

The sole purpose is to silence critical and independent broadcasts. To intimidate media employees. To prevent people from learning the truths.

They want all media outlets to run false, libelous and unethical reports like the “pro-government media” and “aid in” the government’s perception operations.

However, “media freedom” is the most basic human right in advanced democracies. When an administration curbs media freedom, pressures and tyranny rule over the country.

Governments have to tolerate criticism that does not contain insults, let alone preventing media from covering the facts.

Both the “right to obtain information” and “the right to inform” are enshrined not only in our Constitution but also in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The government cannot regard every kind of antidemocratic methods as legitimate in order to come to power alone.

That it is strong, controls all the institutions of the state and has “employees” who implement its orders does not mean it is legitimate to oppress its own people.

Might is not right.

Both those giving orders and those implementing unlawful orders “without written instructions” will be certainly brought to account at court when democracy and the rule of law are restored in the country.

With this apparent attempt to censor, Tivibu violates both our Constitution and universal legal principles.

A country without a free media is no different from Mubarak’s Egypt, Gadhafi’s Libya and Saddam’s Iraq.

Censorship and unlawful practices do needless damage to Turkey and to our democracy.

Published on BGNNews, 29 September 2015, Tuesday