In Turkey, January 10 has been “Working Journalists’ Day” since 1961. On this occasion, several organizations have spoken out on the issue of press freedom.
In a statement, the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) draws attention to the fact that the journalistic profession in Turkey is systematically hindered due to a lack of social security and economic problems, but especially due to censorship and repression. In the press freedom rating of “Reporters Without Borders”, Turkey is ranked 154th out of 180 countries.
According to IHD data, 67 journalists are in prison in Turkey because of their professional activities, and 96 percent of media organs are under government control. According to statistics from the Turkish Ministry of Labor, 86,505 people work in the media sector, and only 7.87 percent are unionized. Against this grim backdrop, the IHD remembers murdered journalists such as Musa Anter, Ferhat Tepe, Uğur Mumcu, Metin Göktepe and Hrant Dink and congratulates all media workers who “refuse to obey the authorities and continue their work against all odds.”
“Whoever writes the truth is a terrorist”
CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrikulu has published a report on press freedom since the AKP came to power. According to the report, at least 808 journalists have been arrested in the past 18 years. In the report, titled “Crime: Journalism,” Tanrikulu notes that the AKP government is continuing what was already true after the 1980 military coup: “You don’t even have to be an opposition member: Anyone who writes the truth and doesn’t stand behind us unconditionally is a terrorist.”
The HDP, the Dicle-Firat Journalists’ Association and the Journalists’ Union TGS each issued their own statements pointing out the indispensable importance of free journalism for democracy.
President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan ironically declared that Turkey would never renounce freedom of the press. However, he contradicted himself in the same sentence by stressing that he would not allow freedom of the press to be misused for “black propaganda against our country” at home and abroad.
HDP: Nothing to celebrate for journalists in Turkey on 10 January
HDP Press and Propaganda deputy co-chair, Tayip Temel issued a written statement to mark “Working Journalists Day” and said that we are sailing through dark times when it comes to journalism.
HDP Press and Propaganda deputy co-chair, Tayip Temel issued a written statement to mark ‘Working Journalists Day’.
Temel said that in Turkey,‘Working Journalists Day’ should be celebrated as a joyful event, however “10 January 2021 is marked by repression of journalists.”
Temel added: “We are going through a dark period in which it is almost impossible to be a journalist. Those who write the truth are tried and threatened to be in jail or to be unemployed.”
The statement continued: “Turkey unfortunately occupies the last positions of all of the world’s press freedom ranking. Turkey is again one of the country with the highest number of journalists in prison. There is almost no journalist free of investigation or not under trial. The sector with the highest rate of unemployed is the media, and the unemployed work precariously and under political pressure. Newspapers, televisions, websites writing the truth are shut down one after the other. Broadcasting bans are imposed on all content that disturbs the government. In other words, journalism is surrounded by the government on all sides.”
Temel added: “According to the government, only those who write what they dictate are to be considered journalists. There are journalists who know that that what they hide is actually the news, not what they show. There are journalists who have overcome the siege of the government no matter the risks. There are journalists who investigate, prove and write about torture, theft and plunder. The existence of those journalists is the hope of this country. Because journalism is not an ordinary profession. It is impossible to achieve democracy and prosperity in a country where journalists are silent, submissive, and follow orders.”
The statement said that “10 January should be a day to be celebrated in the true sense, but this is only possible if journalists can work in free, secure and humane conditions.
We salute all press workers who persistently walk in the footsteps of the truth. The days when all journalists working, unemployed, jailed and exiled will celebrate January 10 like a holiday are near. We promise to continue the struggle to get to these days as soon as possible.”