IFJ/EFJ denounce growing pressure on journalists in Turkey ahead of elections

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) back their affiliate in Turkey, the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) and member of the Turkish Freedom for Journalists Plaftorm (GÖP), in their support for the GÖP’s demand  to end pressure on media and journalists that prevents the public from accessing information.   The Freedom for Journalists Platform urged Turkish authorities to end all pressures on media ahead of the general elections to be held on 7 June.   “ The relentless escalation of acts of intimidation and violence against our colleagues in Turkey is shocking,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “Press freedom is not a cosmetic detail, it is a non-negotiable condition to ensure the sustainability of a democracy. We cannot tolerate that journalists’ values continue to be trampled over in Turkey with total impunity. “   The Freedom for Journalists Platform (GÖP) published a specific statement denouncing the increasing pressure put on media and journalists in Turkey. According to the platform, the adoption of the new Homeland Security Act has oppressed televisions, radios, websites and media workers in alarming proportion following a series of incidents. They include the police raid on 26 May at the office of Gelecek newspaper where they arrested reporters Ufuk Erhan and Ezgi Aydın as well as Birgün correspondent Onur Öncü who was also present. Ufuk Erhan is still held whereas the two other journalists have been released. Baris Ince, Director of publication at the Birgün newspaper, is still facing accusations by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son Bilal Erdogan for publishing articles about corruption cases affecting the president’s family.   In the meanwhile, ten journalists, including Nazli Ilıcak, Ceyda Karan, Baris Atay, Mirgün Cabas and Banu Güven, are being prosecuted for “doing propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organisation” because of their comments on twitter over  the killing of a prosecutor in Istanbul. The journalists face up to 4-5 years imprisonment if found guilty for their tweets.  Another journalist, Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet, is also facing an “anti-terror” charges for publishing photographs allegedly showing arms sent by Turkish authorities to Syrian rebels. Kamil Maman , journalist for Bugün newspaper faces 25 separate investigations for tweets published in the past 6 months. All cases combined, Maman faces a 130-years imprisonment sentence.   The TGS said that yesterday 31 May 2015, police in Istanbul attacked again reporters for covering a public protest commemorating the second anniversary of the Gezi Park demonstrations. Journalist Emre Şencan working for the Turkish daily Zaman was injured in the incident.   “The authorities should start an investigation against police officers who have attacked the reporter. Journalism in not a crime,” said TGS.

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