July 28, 2016

Turkey shuts down 45 newspapers, 16 TV channels with latest emergency decree

Turkish government has shut down 45 newspapers and 16 TV channels, among other media outlets, with the second emergency decree having the force of law as part of widening crackdown on media in Turkey.

A total of 45 newspapers, 29 publishing houses, 23 radio stations, 16 TV channels and 15 magazines were closed, according to the emergency decree published in the Official Gazette.

Media outlets seized by the trustees appointed by the government, such as Kanaltürk, Bugün TV, Zaman Daily, Cihan News Agency, Samanyou TV and Samanyolu News TV were also shut down.

The three closed news agencies were Cihan News Agency, Muhabir News Agency and Sem News Agency.

Newspapers Meydan, Özgür Düşünce, Taraf and Yarına Bakış that are critical of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government were also closed as part of the latest emergency decree.

In addition, Zaman daily and its English edition sister publication, Today’s Zaman, Taraf daily, Bugün daily and Millet daily were also among the closed newspapers.

According to the second emergency decree, seized properties of the total of 131 media outlets — which were closed on suspicion of having links to the so-called Fetullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] that the government-backed judiciary uses to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement — will be transfered to the Treasury.

A group of rebel soldiers, acting out of chain of command, attempted a military coup at around 10 p.m. on July 15, which left more than 200 people – including civilians – dead.

The Turkish government managed to suppress the coup attempt and launched a large-scale crackdown across the country on media, public servants, judges, prosecutors and teachers, along with rebels within the army. The detentions, arrests and massive purges that followed the crackdown widened and increased after a state of emergency was declared on July 20, concentrating power formally into the hands of Erdoğan by allowing him and his cabinet to make laws by fiat.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accussed the Gülen movement of being behind the coup attempt and demanded extradition of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen from the US. Thousands of public servants, judges, prosecutors and journalists were detained by the Turkish police for allegedly having links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, Gülen recently issued a statement condemning the failed military coup attempt in Turkey, calling the allegations of his involvement “demeaning.”

The Gülen movement is a grassroots social initiative inspired by Gülen and carries out charitable activities all around the world, including education, distributing humanitarian aid and providing drinking water especially in African countries.

The Gülen movement is not considered to have influence over the Turkish military, which is known for its Kemalist roots that is against the Gülen movement. The rebel military officials who attempted to stage a coup named themselves as “Council of Peace At Home,” in a declaration they forcibly had delivered via the state-run broadcaster TRT on Friday night. The name is a reference to “Peace at home, peace in the world,” which is a famous saying by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Since a corruption investigation erupted on Dec. 17, 2013 and led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, Erdoğan has launched a witch hunt targeting shop owners, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.

Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said that sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the corruption scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigation. Erdoğan openly said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.

Published on Turkish Minute, 28 July 2016, Thursday