Turkey must stop intimidating journalists and trade unionists

Journalists unions have called on the Turkish authorities to put an end to the threats and assaults against journalists and media workers.

Six Turkish journalists are under criminal investigation for participating in a solidarity campaign on World Press Freedom Day (3 May). The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ and IFJ) are calling upon the presumptive upcoming Turkish Prime minister, Binali Yildirim, to end the climate of permanent judicial intimidation, threats, harassment, detention and physical assaults against journalists and media workers in Turkey.

The federations are concerned that the Turkish judicial authorities have recently opened an investigation against 6 journalists (Erol Önderoglu, Ertugrul Mavioglu, Faruk Eren, Ayse Düzkan, Mustafa Sönmez and Melda Onur) and trade unionists for participating in a solidarity campaign alongside the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem. Journalists and trade unionists under prosecution are now requested to testify on the grounds that articles and news pieces published on the days that they participated in the solidarity campaign constituted “terrorist propaganda” and “incitement to crime”. Faruk Eren and Ayse Düzkan are both board members at Disk Basin-Is (Turkey’s union for journalists and workers in the printing industry) and Ayse Düzkan was one of the guests at the recent EFJ Annual Meeting 2016 in Sarajevo.

The “Co-Editorship-in-Chief” campaign launched by Özgür Gündem daily on 3 May to mark World Press Freedom Day (#WPFD) managed to attract 16 journalists to participate in this solidarity action. TGS, an EFJ-IFJ affiliate in Turkey, fully supported this initiative to develop solidarity among press workers.

In another Turkish case, the EFJ has condemned the sentencing of journalist Arzu Yildiz to 20 months in jail and the stripping of her legal rights over her children for breaching the confidentiality of a court case. The sentence is pending approval from the court of appeal. Arzu Yildiz was sued by the state after publishing footage in May 2015 from a court hearing at which four prosecutors were on trial for ordering a search of trucks belonging to Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency as they traveled to Syria in 2014. In a separate judicial case linked to the same issue, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing state secrets after publishing footage which purported to show trucks carrying weapons to Syria.

The EFJ-IFJ will submit those new cases of violations to the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection and safety of journalists and alert the Mapping Media Freedom platform. They reiterate their call on the Turkish authorities, including the new presumptive PM Binali Yildirim, to change this dramatic situation.


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