The Association of European Journalists calls on the Turkish authorities to put a stop to the improper bullying of employees and union-busting techniques used by the management of the Anatolian news agency, which have forced hundreds of agency staff to give up their membership of the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS). The AEJ fully backs the struggle for journalists’ basic rights led by TGS chairman Ercan Ipekci, who began an indefinite hunger strike outside the Ankara offices of the Anatolian news agency on 9 March. Ercan Ipekci called the management’s behaviour “bullying and oppression”, and launched his public hunger strike to draw attention to the unacceptable actions of top agency management figures appointed by the Turkish government. Ipekci is a leading figure in the ongoing campaign challenging the imprisonment of more than 100 Turkish journalists on various criminal charges, and hundreds of other criminal investigations targeting journalists on account of their reporting work.
Yesterday four journalists including Nedim Sener, who wrote a book exposing official failings linked to the 2007 assassination of writer and editor Hrant Dink, were released from prison after spending many months in jail while facing terrorism-related charges. Any pending charges against those four individuals should be dropped and all other unfounded and speculative prosecutions should be stopped, in line with Turkey’s pledges to bring its criminal justice system into line with acccepted European standards. Turkey’s routine attempts to criminalise the work of journalists using archaic and arbitrary insult and counter-terrorism laws have been denounced many times by the European Union and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), as well as leading human rights and media monitoring organisations. Last November the AEJ was part of an international delegation to Turkey led by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), which called on the Turkish authorities to end all attempts to prosecute journalists and writers for exercising their freedom of expression as guaranteed in the European Convention of Human Rights, by which Turkey is bound as a member of the Council of Europe.