Turkish journalists risk their lives every day by simply trying to do their job, Tayip Temel, deputy co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said in a statement published yesterday on the party’s website.
Murdered journalists have been commemorated on April 6 ever since Turkish journalist Hasan Fehmi was killed on the same day in 1909.
“Nothing has changed in the past 112 years,” said Temel. “Journalists are still targeted for expressing their thoughts or criticizing the government. They are still targeted for going after the truth and making people in power feel uncomfortable.”
Emphasizing that journalists expose politician wrongdoing, bureaucrats, the mafia, misogynists and racists in top positions, Temel said the corrupt Turkish government did not want journalist to work freely for exactly these reasons.
“Critical minded journalists infuriate the government,” he said. “People in power do not want journalists to protect the people but the powerful.”
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), journalists who are critical of the government are constantly intimated and silenced. Moreover, they are threatened with imprisonment by Turkish authorities under the country’s anti-terrorism law, known as the TMK.
Despite these problems, Temel emphasized that there were still brave journalists who pursued the truth despite the dangers of murder, arrest and abduction.
Turkey is ranked 154th among 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 175 journalists are currently behind bars in the county, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.
The Turkish government increased its crackdown on critical media outlets and journalists in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, following which dozens of journalists were jailed, while more than 200 media outlets were closed down under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.