RTÜK: 70 radio and TV channels gagged under the rule of emergency in Turkey

 The High Commission of Radio and Television (RTÜK), Turkey’s state broadcasting watchdog, said 33 television channels and 37 radio stations belonging to 54 different media companies had been shut down under the rule of emergency declared by Turkish government five days after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a report by recently launched online news portal Ahval, the RTÜK president İlhan Yerlikaya has claimed that the the closed TV channels and radio stations “were branches of, had relationships with, or supported structures, formations or groups identified as posing a national security threat or terrorist organisations.”

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called the declaration of rule of emergency which was introduced on July 20, 2016 as “the July 20 civilian coup” at a meeting with Turkish Union of Journalists representatives.

Kılıçdaroğlu said the media had not even experienced this many problems in the aftermath of previous successful military coups, adding that there were three main ways in which the government was seeking to punish journalism it disliked. “First, the journalists are being punished; second, the media owners are being threatened; and finally, heavy punishments are being given to newspapers by way of financial audits,” he said.

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. The government has also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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