October 30, 2015

Dutch deputies say İpek Media Group takeover casts doubt on election results

Lawmakers from the Dutch parliament have condemned a recent police raid on İpek Media Group, which was among companies seized in a government-backed decision in Turkey this week, indicating that the move casts doubt on this Sunday's upcoming elections.

In a parliamentary motion she filed, Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) deputy and spokesperson for Turkey affairs Marit Maij called on Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders to summon the Turkish ambassador to convey the Dutch government's concerns over the raid. The lawmaker said the attempts to intimidate critical media is a major violation of press freedom, adding that carrying out such an operation few days before the Nov. 1 elections is an open violation of the rule of law.

Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, from the Democrats '66 (D66) political party, said the seizure of the media group is unacceptable, stressing that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is doing everything, including intimidating journalists and threatening critics, to get the result it wants from the elections.

Noting that the Dutch government should convey its concerns on the issue to Turkish officials, Sjoerdsma said turning television stations and newspapers into pro-AK Party outlets ahead of the elections casts doubts on if the elections are free. He continued by saying that it is hard to take results of the elections seriously in such an atmosphere.

Riot police stormed the headquarters of the İpek Media Group in İstanbul shortly after dawn on Wednesday, with journalists from the paper trying in vain to prevent them from entering the building. A board of trustees has since been installed and its first action was to fire Bugün TV General Manager Tarık Toros and Bugün daily Editor-in-Chief Erhan Başyurt.

Published on Today's Zaman, 29 October 2015, Thursday