October 27, 2015

Bugün, Millet newspapers come out with black front pages to protest media crackdown

The Turkish Bugün and Millet dailies were published with white text on black front pages on Tuesday to protest the government's latest crackdown on critical media outlets, as it moved to seize the İpek Media Group early this week.

The government effectively seized Koza İpek Holding, which owns media outlets that are critical of the government -- including the Bugün and Millet dailies -- by appointing trustees to take over the management of the company and its subsidiaries on Monday, less than a week before the Nov. 1 parliamentary election.

To protest the move, the dailies of the group came out with black front pages, reflecting the editorial note titled “A dark day… for our democracy, for our freedom and for Turkey.”

“Another unlawful decision was taken, the operation to silence and intimidate the free and independent İpek Media Group, just days before the Nov. 1 general election,” the editorial said.

It was pointed out in the editorial that the move was an attempt to turn critical media outlets into pro-government ones, so that the government could silence opposition before the election, which is set to determine the country's fate.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lost its majority in Parliament and could not form a single party government after the June 7 general election. After AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu failed to form a coalition with minority parties, a snap election was called. The AK Party seeks to regain its majority and form a single party government on Nov. 1 and has been leading a crackdown on critical media outlets since then. The interim AK Party government previously conducted a raid on the headquarters of Koza İpek Holding, which also includes TV stations Kanaltürk and Bugün TV, on Sept. 1.

The editorial said with the seizure, it has become impossible to have a fair and transparent election process and wished for a democratic and brighter Turkey.

As another show of support to the group a campaign was launched on social media with the hashtag #medyamadokunma (hands off my media). Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş also supported the hashtag and wore a black ribbon to protest the crackdown, and said all of the CHP members will be wearing one until the election.

Published on Today's Zaman, 27 October 2015, Tuesday