Working Journalists’ Day: “96 percent of the media in Turkey controlled by the government”

Turkey celebrates “Working Journalists’ Day” on January 10. Numerous organizations and individuals – including President Erdogan – have spoken out on the issue of press freedom on this occasion.

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.