Local journalists increasingly targeted for their work, says professional association

Photo Credit: Bianet

The Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) released a statement yesterday condemning increasing pressure and attacks on local Turkish journalists following several incidents over the past month.

Pointing out the fundamental problems journalists face, the ÇGD said: “The local press is indispensable for maintaining democracy. It enables the residents of a city to have the power to hold local administrations accountable. Unfortunately, certain problems in local administrations are directly affecting journalists such as bribery, favoritism, organized crime, mafia gangs and corruption. These problems have become gangrene in Turkish cities.”

According to the Bianet news website, Yakup Kocabaş, who works for a local newspaper in Antalya, was attacked by an armed group. The car of a journalist based in the Central Anatolian city of Nevşehir was set on fire in an arson attack.

Şaban Önen, a shareholder of the local Karacabey Yörem newspaper, was attacked by relatives of the district mayor from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

According to the ÇGD, journalists who report on problems in local administrations are often targeted in attacks and have difficulty making their voices heard on a national level. These attacks put Turkish journalists under extreme pressure.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 177 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 168 wanted on fabricated terrorism charges have been forced to live in exile.

According to the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index in which Turkey was ranked 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom, Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.

In August of this year Özgür Boğatekin, a journalist in Adıyaman, was sentenced to prison for reporting on corruption in the city.

İdris Yayla from Jiyan Haber was investigated for “provoking the public to hatred and hostility” over a report on a woman’s rape by a noncommissioned gendarmerie officer in the southeastern province of Batman.

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