Members of the G-9 Journalists Platform organised a march in Ankara on 3rd May to raise awareness about Turkey’s press freedom violations in the World Press Freedom Day, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
World Press Freedom Day was used as a platform to highlight the lack of press freedom in Turkey. Turkish NGOs and foreign officials have been highly critical of the government’s attitude towards press freedom.
To date, 43 journalists still remain in prison and the government is increasing pressure on the media, the Vienna-based International Press Institute’s (IPI) National Committee in Turkey (BED) said in a statement on 2nd May.
The CHP, Turkey’s main opposition party has warned of “creeping totalitarianism.”
“Turkey’s restrictions on the media include the use of taxes and imprisonment against journalists and media owners,” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said 1st May at an event in Istanbul. “There’s simply no such thing as a one-party democracy.”
Douglas Frantz, a senior US diplomat said, “losing your job for doing your job is wrong.”
However, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu refutes the allegations. “Press freedom in Turkey is freer than both countries called ‘partly free’ and countries called ‘free.’ We expect our journalists to reject this report,” he said.
Against which, the BED listed the “bitter facts presenting a dark picture,” journalists fired from their jobs, wiretapped by police, targeted in campaigns of character assassination or forced into self-censorship, all because of their critical press coverage.
“Censorship, which has been intensified with court rulings and legal complaints, even leads to the removal of political speeches by opposition figures from news websites, although there is no doubt that they are newsworthy,” the statement said.
Turkey’s Journalists Association (TGC) was also critical of the country’s attitude towards freedom of expression, with over 40 publishers and reporters behind bars.
“Journalists, who work for the public’s right to know the truth, are welcoming World Press Freedom Day under heavy pressure,” the statement said.