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AEJ warns against police tactics in Turkey and backs journalists under severe attack

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The AEJ, as part of the G9 Platform of Turkish journalists’ organisations, denounces the recent excessive use of force by Turkish police against journalists as well as protestors during large-scale protests around the country, including Istanbul and Ankara. The Turkish Prime Minister, by attacking Twitter and other social media, is only aggravating the oppression of free and independent media which has reached alarming proportions during his time in office.

G9 Platform’s Statement:

DON’T TURN JOURNALISTS INTO TARGETS!

The social movements and protests which began in Gezi Park in Taksim Square and spread to other towns in the last few days were the most serious of their kind, due to their size and the scale of police violence.

Excessive violence by police, including the use of tear gas and plastic bullets, also targeted the reporters working under very difficult conditions in the field for people’s right to information. In Istanbul and other towns journalists have been injured and detained by police.

We would like to remind everyone, and the government first of all, that as protest is a fundamental right in democracies, informing the people about them is a duty of journalists.

Unfortunately, in recent years, media companies in Turkey have been acting like the proverbial ‘three monkeys’ – not hearing, seeing or speaking – concerning their own problems, due to the new media ownership structure and media owners’ close relationship with political power. The people taking to the streets to express their complaints could blame the reporters and even targeted them.

We want to stress that the reporters in the field are not responsible for the way things are reflected or not reflected in the media, and they do not deserve either the police violence or being the target of protesters’ anger because of that.

We wish a quick recovery to all journalist colleagues who have been injured in the last several days, and we urge the government and police to stop targeting reporters doing their jobs in the field.

Those using their protest right should also know that their targeting of journalists hurts us more than the police violence.

Reporters working in the field are paid workers of their media companies and defenders of people’s right to information. Turning them into targets cannot be accepted.

On the other hand, we consider the Prime Minister’s extension of his habit of blaming media after such incidents — now also including social media and Twitter — to be a worrying development for freedom of expression.

We want to remind that every step restricting true freedom of expression in Turkey would only help to boost ‘gossip journalism’.

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