Journalists detained in Turkey… again !

People in Istanbul demonstrate against the arrests of Zaman newspaper journalists (photo : TGS)

Police forces in Turkey have today (14/12/2014) raided media outlets (Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu Television) known to be close to a US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

At least 23 people, including journalists and television producers, have been detained so far in Istanbul and elsewhere in the country and are apparently being accused of forming a criminal organization.

Commenting this new operation, the Secretary General of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS, an EFJ affiliate) Mustafa Kuleli reminded that “this operation is performed just a few days before the first anniversary of the bribery and corruption scandal (known as “17 December” scandal) that shocked the country a year ago, so this new move against our colleagues is in fact an operation against freedom and democracy in Turkey”.

Indicating that “14 December” operation will be remembered as a “black day” in the history of Turkey Mustafa Kuleli added : “Although the journalists detained today may not have reacted when other colleagues were detained in the recent past, we cannot approve any of those arrests. What we experience today, like in the Ergenekon, OdaTV or KCK Press cases, is not the rule of law. We should know by now that no matter which group is targetted by the persecution, nobody must stay silent. The principles of our profession matter for us. We will continue to defend the journalists who are being punished because of their reporting“. 

The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, strongly backed the TGS standing and expressed serious concern about the situation in Turkey. “The European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other intergovernmental institutions should take action in relation to Turkey. Only 10 days ago we together with the Council of Europe have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new platform about early warnings on attacks on journalist, journalism and media. This is a such example, and we need the international community to send a very clear and firm message to the authorities in Turkey.”

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320. 000 journalists in 60 journalists’ organisations across 39 countries. 

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  • http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-2640_en.htm

    European Commission – Statement
    Joint statement on the police raids and arrests of media representatives in Turkey

    Brussels, 14 December 2014

    Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, issued the following statement today:

    The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy. We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation in case of any alleged wrongdoing, with full respect of the rights of the defendants.

    Coming only a few days after our visit to Turkey, together with Commissioner Stylianides, which has underlined the importance of EU-Turkey relations, this operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of and which are the core of reinforced relations. We recall that any further step towards accession with any candidate country depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights. We will convey our concerns to the Council, which will on Tuesday discuss enlargement policy, including Turkey. We expect that the strong EU commitment given by our Turkish counterparts during our visit to be translated into deeds.

    STATEMENT/14/2640

  • Nils Muiznieks @CommissionerHR
    Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=379655898876993&id=118705514972034

    I am following with deep concern the events unfolding in Turkey. The arrest yesterday of journalists and media workers is a serious setback for media freedom in the country.

    Irrespective of the reasons which may have motivated them, such measures are disproportionate and unnecessary in a democracy.

    They are as worrying as the waves of arrests of journalists in 2011 which were condemned by my predecessor in his report on media freedom in Turkey.

    Indeed, media freedom has been a long-standing problem in Turkey and such measures carry a high risk of cancelling out the progress Turkey has painstakingly achieved in recent years. They send a new chilling message to journalists and dissenting voices in Turkey, who have been under intense pressure, including facing violence and reprisals.

    They are also likely to polarise Turkish society further and to increase public mistrust in the state’s ability to uphold human rights.

    I urge the authorities to stop the crackdown on press freedom and to act in compliance with the rule of law and human rights.

  • http://www.osce.org/fom/131896

    PODGORICA, 15 December 2014 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović today wrote to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu calling for the immediate release of detained journalists.

    “Yesterday’s arrests point to a resurgence in the threats against journalists. They should be released immediately,” Mijatović said.

    On 14 December, police arrested numerous members of the media during raids on a newspaper and television station.

    “The arrests once again show that a thorough revision of the laws allowing for the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey is urgent. Laws should not be used to curb dissenting views in a society,” Mijatović wrote in the letter.

    The Representative has repeatedly been calling for the reform of a series of laws governing media freedom in Turkey, including the provisions of the Criminal Code and the Anti-Terror legislation most often used to imprison journalists.

    The Representative noted that in recent years there was a substantial decrease of imprisoned journalists in Turkey. An annual survey commissioned by her Office showed that 95 Turkish journalists were imprisoned in 2011, a number that has fallen to around 20 in 2014 (this year’s survey is available at http://www.osce.org/fom/119921).

    Mijatović is in Podgorica for a roundtable discussion with media representatives in Montenegro on how to improve media self-regulation in the country.

    The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at http://www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.

  • […] week, Turkish police arrested more than 20 journalists including Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s largest circulating newspaper Zaman and […]

  • […] in favour, 11 against and 31 abstentions) by members of the European Parliament (MEP) condemned the police raids on 14 December 2014 against Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV and the detention of a number of journalists and media […]

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