Major threat to press freedom in Turkey

15.09.2015

 Presidency of Diyarbakır Bar Association

     Press Statement

    05/09/2015

 

Major threat to press freedom in Turkey

 

The pressure including physical attack to the press and media organs which have a critical standing against policies and practices of the political power in Turkey has reached to dangerous dimensions.

 

Almost for two months now, the access to the websites of many media organs including Dicle News Agency and Özgür Gündem newspaper which broadcast in Turkey has been banned. Currently there is no access in Turkey to the web pages of dozens of media organs broadcasting either from Turkey or abroad.

 

It also should be underlined that heavy pressures like raiding the media centres, investigating and even arresting its members continue to be implemented against Samanyolu TV and Zaman newspaper and other pro-opposition media organs under the name of “Parallel State Investigation”.

 

On the other hand, direct or indirect pressures have been implemented to the television channels and newspapers of Doğan Media Group. Recently the building of Hürriyet newspaper was attacked by members of the ruling political party and even lives of directors and workers of this newspaper have been threatened.

 

Lastly at the night of day before yesterday (on 13/09/2015) Nokta magazine, one of the oldest political magazine of Turkey was raided due to an article about President of Republic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the latest edition of Nokta Magazine was banned from being distributed and editorial manager of the magazine has been taken into custody.

 

Press and media freedom is the most fundamental value of democracy and it accomplishes the freedom of expression.  It provides the vital function for freedom of information, monitoring the public and public authorities. In a country without press freedom it would be difficult to prevent the unfair and arbitrary practices of the authorities. It may also lead to a corrupt and totalitarian political power.

 

It is stated in the countless decisions of European Court of Human Rights since 1970 (Sunday Times/United Kingdom) that press freedom is a fundamental guarantee of democracy and that  the freedom of expression should not be just regarded as pleasing ideas, on the contrary it is emphasized that the freedom of expression is particularly essential for disturbing even shocking ideas for the society. Similarly in many decisions of ECHR, it is underlined that (Casstells/Spain) the people who fulfil important public tasks or the ones that before public eyes should be more open and more tolerant to the critics due to the nature of their social roles. It is also pointed that the limits for the rights to criticise these people are wider.

 

In the recent months, blocking the access to some publications, investigations, arrests and physical attacks against some press  and media organs and the recent raid to Nokta magazine inflict a deadly blow to freedom of press which constitutes a guarantee for all other rights and freedoms. These repressive implementations against press are completely moving Turkey away from being an open society.

 

Diyarbakır Bar Association finds the restrictions upon the websites of news agencies and their publications from the inside and outside of Turkey, investigations and arrest of some media members, physical attack against Hürriyet newspaper and finally the last raid to Nokta magazine as well as the detention of its editor in chief as unacceptable. We call for the Govement to show respect to the basic values of a democratic society.

 

With due respect

On behalf of the Diyarbakir Bar Association Board

Lawyer Tahir ELÇİ / President of Bar Assc.