The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Europe's largest organisation of journalists, today sends a strong support to its journalists affiliates in Turkey following a two-day conference to defend press freedom and freedom of speech.
"There is no real freedom of speech in Turkey", says Arne König, EFJ president. "During these two days, we have witnessed many examples of journalists and media workers being intimidated and the control public authorities exercise over the media. Our colleagues can no longer work under such pressure. Turkey must give evidence of its commitment towards freedom of speech in its negotiations for EU membership and take concrete steps to protect press freedom." said König.
To date, 29 journalists are detained in Turkey. Many of them have not been brought to trial. Many provisions of the criminal and anti terror laws provide public authorities, the police and the army with multiple means to silence the press says the EFJ. Despite the deletion of the reference to "attacks against Turkishness" article 301 of the criminal code still contains provisions that are used to censor the press. The right to collectively bargain is narrowly limited and only applies in companies where unions represent more than 50% of the workforce.
" Journalists' unions should be able to bargain collectively with media employers. Current rules should be lessen so that it becomes easier to bargain. This is our priority." said Ercan Ipekçi, president of the Turkish Union of Journalists TGS.
Since mid-February an ongoing strike at the Sabah newspaper and ATV television highlight the need for the right to negotiate collective agreements in the workplace. The EFJ joined its affiliates in a demonstration in central Istanbul on 2 May to denounce the absence of collective bargaining in the two media, both owned by the Turkuvaz Media Group.
The EFJ and TGS are part of a joint project to strengthen press freedom in Turkey which will support a series of activities to strengthen press freedom in the country.