The protest meetings, the most crowded of journalists demonstrations of the last years, came following the detainment of investigative journalists Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik and a group of ODATV reporters. Journalists chanting slogans in favor of their detained colleagues carried banners saying that 61 journalists were in jail and 2000 were prosecuted, while there were 4000 investigations against journalists. “Everybody needs free press”, “Freedom to journalists”, “We do not want journalists in jail” were some of the slogans.85 journalists associations of the country supported todays protest meetings.
AEJ International Vice-President and G-9 Platform Spokesperson Assoc. Prof. Dr. L. Dogan Tilic addressed the crowd in the Kizilay Square of Ankara and said that journalists became scared to ask questions and criticise the government as the country was going to an election. “We do not want freedom only for ourselves. If there is no freedom of expression in a country, there will not be democracy” said Tilic.
Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle on the situation of media freedom in Turkey:
“The European Commission is following with concern the recent police actions against journalists, including the detention today of Nedim Şener, Ahmet Şık and others and the arrests last week of ODA TV site administrators Soner Yalçın, Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan. The European Commission has in its progress report highlighted the high number of court cases against journalists and undue pressure on the media which undermine freedom of the press in practice. Turkish law does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are fundamental principles which should be upheld in all modern democracies. As a candidate country, we expect Turkey to implement such core democratic principles and enable varied, pluralistic debate in public space. Turkey urgently needs to amend its legal framework to improve the exercise of freedom of the press in practice and in a significant manner.”
Statement by OSCE media representative Dunja Mijatovic concerned about unprecedented persecution of journalists in Turkey
The OSCE called on Turkish authorities to immediately stop intimidating media following police action against several journalists. Turkish police took at least six journalists into custody and also raided the journalists’ homes and offices and confiscated equipment. This unprecedented conduct by the authorities violates basic OSCE media freedom commitments. It targets and suppresses differing and critical voices, Mijatovic said. Actions like this have a strong chilling effect on media freedom. It clearly illustrates the need for Turkey to reform its media laws, as noted repeatedly by my office,” she said.”I call on the Turkish authorities to stop intimidating and threatening journalists. The detained journalists should be immediately released without any conditions.”