Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy and former journalist Barış Yarkadaş said on Monday that 12 journalists have been detained, 4 arrested and 11 given prison sentences in Turkey in the month of October. “Democracy is in agony; journalists can’t breathe,” said Yarkadaş.
Underlining the refusal of the Ministry of Justice to answer his parliamentary question, the CHP deputy said: “We inquired from the Ministry [of Justice] the number and names of prisoners who acknowledged their profession as ‘journalist/writer/publisher’ [in Turkey]. [But] the ministry refused to provide the names and numbers [of these journalists] on the grounds that that would violate their right to privacy. We can’t understand what they are hiding [from the public].”
Pointing to the heavy pressure that journalists are facing today all over the world, Yarkadaş went on to say: “One of the rings in this chain [of persecution of journalists] is the AKP [Justice and Development Party] rule. Increasingly exerting pressure on journalists, the AKP is putting them into a death agony.”
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of October 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 232 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.
Following a failed coup on July 15, 2016, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, an international delegation of civil society organizations visited İstanbul to demonstrate solidarity with writers, journalists and media outlets in Turkey.
International civil society organizations have condemned the Turkish government for abusing an ongoing state of emergency in the country to suppress freedom of expression and have called on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists detained without evidence and to cease its harassment of the few remaining independent and opposition media outlets.
Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has called on Turkish authorities to put an end to an ongoing media crackdown in the country and to free the journalists held in Turkey’s prisons.
“Turkey now jails more journalists than any other country. One third of all imprisoned journalists in the world are being held in Turkish prisons, the vast majority waiting to be brought to trial. Journalists and media workers from all strands of opposition media have been targeted in an unprecedented crackdown since the violent coup attempt in July 2016. Coupled with the closure of more than 160 media outlets, the message is clear and disturbing: the space for dissent is ever-shrinking and speaking out comes at an immeasurable cost,” Amnesty said in statement on Friday. (SCF with turkishminute.com)