IFJ and IPI Protest Over Turkish Government

Mr. Tayyip Erdogan
Prime Minister of Turkey
By Fax:
+90-312-417 04 76
+90-312-417 05 73

Brussels, 8 February 2005

Dear Excellency,

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, and the International Press Institute, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from over 120 countries, are deeply concerned over the situation of the journalists and other workers at Star newspaper. We are calling for your Government to take the necessary measures to reinstate over 650 employees and to pay their compensation.

As you are aware, in December last year your government took control of Star newspaper's upper management, for financial and political reasons. Immediately after the change of management, the new management fired 682 people without any notice or compensation.

Following this action, several employees took this case to the courts and the new management was ordered to reinstate all of our colleagues and to pay them their respective compensation.

However, your government ignored the decision of the courts and blocked the due legal procedure to reinstate these journalists and media staffers leaving close to 700 Star employees jobless.

We find such callous disregard for fundamental labour rights and your government’s indifference to the core legal principles of the Turkish state to be quite intolerable.

You will recall one year ago when several dozen employees of Star enterprises could not get their regular salaries for a period of seven months. The revenues of Star TV and Star newspaper were blocked by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). Furthermore, in mid-2003, the activities of the energy companies (CEAS and Kepez) and the bank (Imar Bank) owned by the Uzan family, who is also the owner of the Star media companies, were ceased by a decision of your Government.

In this regard, these latest actions demonstrate a clear and open policy of repression and censorship against the free press in Turkey.

With Turkey due to enter into formal talks regarding full membership of the European Union in October this year, this situation casts a shadow over any potentially successful integration procedures.

Your government has a moral, legal and ethical obligation to ensure the democratic progress of your country and we urge you to ensure the full respect for and adherence to the key role of a free and independent press in this process.

The Turkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (TGS), the IFJ affiliate in Turkey, supports the journalists and media workers at Star company and is extremely concerned by the consequences of your government’s decision for the future of each of these workers.

We ask for further information on the reasons for blocking the reinstatement of our colleagues at Star and a failure to compensate them, and we call your Government to find an immediate arrangement to resolve this crisis through professional dialogue with the TGS.

Yours sincerely,

IFJ General Secretary

Johann P. FRITZ
IPI Director