October 28, 2015

OSCE condemns İpek media raid, calls on gov’t to restore press freedom ahead of elections

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representative has said Wednesday’s police raid on ipek media group’s news outlets is unacceptable, calling on Turkish authorities to ensure and restore media freedom in the country ahead of Sunday’s elections.

“Police raiding offices of media outlets, detaining journalists, and using tear gas and water cannons, is unacceptable,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said on Wednesday.

"This morning’s raid by the police on the television channels Kanaltürk and Bugün TV is a clear obstruction of media freedom,” Mijatović said. “The authorities must ensure that the media can work freely and in a safe environment, particularly during an election period.”
In a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday, special operations police forces raided the İstanbul offices of television channels Kanaltürk and Bugün TV, belonging to the İpek Media Group. Police used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd gathered outside the building, which included several journalists.

Some of the journalists were reportedly taken into police custody and employees were not allowed to enter the buildings. Police forces reportedly took Kanaltürk off the air and have attempted to switch off Bugün TV as well.

“Access to pluralistic information is indispensable in any democracy,” Mijatović said. “The television channels must be able to resume broadcasting immediately.”

“I trust that my call will be taken into consideration and that the authorities will do their utmost to reverse this worrying trend,” Mijatović said.

The Representative also noted concerns expressed by local and international NGOs regarding today’s events.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 October 2015, Wednesday