Turkish opposition leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu has said that the Turkish Journalists’ Labour Union (TGS) reports that as of July 22nd, 59 journalists have been ‘removed from their post’ for their news reports on the protests at Gezi Park.
There are 64 journalists under arrest and another 123 are facing trial on charges of terrorism, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has announced, with the party’s leader underlining that Turkey ranks 154th out of 179 countries in media freedom.
Mr Kilicdaroglu released the outcome of the party’s research into all journalists that have been facing prosecution, presenting the “Report on Imprisoned Journalists” today at a press conference at the party’s headquarters.
“We are experiencing a process in which the government and the police audits together, [in which] the media bosses are under the rule of political authority and publish the news that the political authority accepts,” he said, adding that those in power, as well as media bosses, were also instituting censorship or driving journalists to engage in self-censorship. “We have gone 105 years back in time.”
Even during the aftermath of the Sept. 12, 1980, coup, only 31 journalists were arrested, Kilicdaroglu said, describing the government’s current attitude on the matter as a “police state mentality.”
“Mr. Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has turned the country into a half-open penitentiary and made it impossible to live for journalists,” Kilicdaroglu said, while noting the approach of Journalism Day, which is marked on July 24 in Turkey.
“Journalism is a public duty. Only in a country in which a journalist can work freely can we talk about democracy,” he said. “I call out to media bosses: Leave the kitchen of the newspaper alone, when you apply censorship on them, when you lay them off from work, someday we will bring you to account,” he added.
The comments by the opposition leader where in response to a reply the prime minister gave to the press questioning how many journalists had been arrested. Erdogan answered, “the number of arrested journalists is not more that the number of fingers on one’s hand. Those journalists were not arrested for their journalism”.
The CHP took up the matter following a joint press conference between Erdogan and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February.