International emergency press freedom mission visits Turkey ahead of election

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) are taking part this week in an emergency mission in Turkey in solidarity with journalists, media workers and the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS).

Journalists are facing more repression than ever due to the forthcoming elections of 1 November. “More than ever after the horrifying bombing on 10 October in Ankara killing more than 100 people and on the eve of the new elections, the international community needs to show strong and effective support to journalists and unionists fighting to defend freedom of expression against brutal censorship, violences, insults, repression, threats of dismissal”, said Patrick Kamenka, EFJ-IFJ representative for the emergency mission.

Concerns over the deteriorating state of press freedom in Turkey and its impact on upcoming 1 November parliamentary elections have prompted a coalition of international free expression groups to undertake an emergency press freedom mission to the country this week.

From 19 to 21 October, mission participants will meet in Istanbul and Ankara with journalists, political representatives and foreign diplomats to demonstrate solidarity with their colleagues in the news media and to focus attention in Turkey and abroad on the impact the growing pressure on journalists and independent media is likely to have on the election.

This international mission will bring together representatives from eight leading international press freedom and free expression groups, including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Article 19, Index on Censorship and the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN).

The mission will conclude with a press conference at 13:00 on 21 October at the offices of the Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC) and Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), at Türkocağı Cad. No: 1, Cağaloğlu, Istanbul.

Since late August, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a repeat of the June elections after lawmakers were unable to form a government, Turkey has witnessed a series of increasingly troubling incidents targeting journalists and media. Among others, they include physical attacks on journalists and media outlets; raids on media outlets and seizures of publications; threatening rhetoric directed at journalists; and the increasing use of criminal insult and anti-terrorism laws to chill independent reporting.

This week’s mission will focus on these incidents, as well as the ongoing imprisonment of numerous journalists in Turkey and the deportations of foreign journalists, particularly those attempting to cover deadly clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) and Turkey’s participation in the international fight against the “Islamic State” group.

The mission comes as satellite and online television providers have accepted prosecutors’ demands to stop carrying the signals of broadcasters critical of the government.

In mid-September this year, the EFJ-IFJ-TGS held an international conference in Istanbul, focusing on freedom of the press and workers’ rights in Turkey. At this conference, they condemned the government’s renewed attacks on freedoms and called for workers to enjoy freedom of association. The participants also reasserted their support for the public right to information.

On 25 September, in a letter addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the EFJ-IFJ and several European and international confederations denounced the current threats to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey and called for an end to the growing censorship in the run-up to the forthcoming elections.

Last 2 October, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Congress, held in Paris adopted a motion expressing its full solidarity with journalists, media staff and freelancers in Turkey, and with trade unionists.

The upcoming election is likely to decide Turkey’s direction for the coming decade and its outcome will have far-reaching implications for Turkey, its neighbours and the wider world. The leading organisations are undertaking this emergency press freedom mission to Turkey to stand in solidarity with their colleagues under pressure, and demand that voters be allowed to make an informed decision about their future and that the media be allowed to report freely to give voters the information they need to do so.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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