R2K Condemns Repression of Media Workers in Turkey

The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) is appalled by the recent clampdowns on journalists and media outlets in Turkey. The past few weeks have been extremely worrying for media freedom in that country, which has a shameful record of persecuting outspoken journalists.
 
As part of a wider purge after the failed military coup of 15-16 July thousands of people including police, judges and teachers, have been suspended, detained or placed under investigation and media organisations that are perceived to be critical of the state have been hit hard. So far, reports are that over 140 media outlets have been forcibly shut, including three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 15 magazines, 45 newspapers and 29 publishers. Scores of journalists have been targeted for arrest on spurious grounds. 
 
The Erdogan government claims it is cleansing the state of people linked to Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Muslim cleric and political leader it says is behind the coup and who was alleged to have enormous influence in key institutions such as the judiciary, police and media. But the sweeping and heavy-handed nature of the response to the coup reveals it for what it is – a witch hunt to root out critics of different political colours and clamp down on dissent. Erdogan is exploiting the coup to entrench his authoritarian rule and accelerate his long-running war on media freedom, which has seen journalists routinely hounded for “insulting the president” and given Turkey the shameful title as one of the biggest jailers of media workers.
 
But government hostility is often just one among many threats to the rights and safety of journalists, some of whom have lost their lives for doing their jobs. A variety of different groups, from Gulenists to ultra-nationalists, have been complicit in harassing and harming media workers and undermining free expression in their pursuit of power. Several Syrian journalists covering the civil war in that country have also been killed in Turkey recently, with ISIS claiming responsibility. Meanwhile, the ongoing war between the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists has intensified the pressure on journalists and media workers, who are often labelled ‘terrorist sympathisers’ by the state.
 
Across the world media freedom is under threat. Closer to home, in the SADC region, we’ve seen egregious violations of the rights of media workers recently – a leading paper being forced to close in Zambia as elections approach, numerous assaults on journalists in Zimbabwe amid anti-government protests, and an editor in Lesotho nearly killed in an apparent assassination attempt. In South Africa, the purges of journalists at the SABC have made international headlines, and we’ve seen similar attempts to silence journalists at ANN7. We, as Right2Know, condemn the ongoing war being waged on critics of the Erdogan government and on media workers everywhere, at home and abroad. We stand in solidarity with members of the fourth estate in the perennial struggle to hold the powerful to account. 
 
For more information contact:
 
Micah Reddy
Mobile: 083 297 3444
 
For more about the Right2Know Campaign, refer to www.r2k.org.za.
 
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/press-releases.

Date published: 
Friday, 12 August, 2016
Organisation: 
Right2Know Campaign

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