The international AEJ fully supports the statement and appeal, ‘A Coup Against Journalists’, issued today by the G-9 Platform of media and press freedom organisations in Turkey. It condemns the wholesale closures of media, detentions and sackings of journalists, and other oppressive measures taken under the post-coup state of emergency laws in Turkey. The complete G-9 Platform Statement is as follows:
JOINT STATEMENT BY TURKISH JOURNALISTS ORGANISATIONS: “A COUP AGAINST JOURNALISM”, 29 September 2016
Twelve TV channels and 11 radio channels including Jiyan TV, Zarok TV, Voice of Life TV, TV 10, Van TV and YÖN Radio have been shut down without any reason given under Emergency Law rules, by order of the Prime Minister.
All these actions were taken in the name of investigating a coup which in fact we all resisted and rejected!
But the consequence of a coup is in effect the same as what is now unfolding, that is to say silencing the media with censorship, banning and forced closures.
You cannot fight coups by shutting down televisions, detaining, arresting and targeting journalists and silencing opposition voices. On the contrary, those are precisely the things that would have happened if the coup attempt had succeeded.
The shutting down of 12 television channels in one night is part of a much wider assault on journalism in Turkey. Since the declaration of Emergency Rule following the July 15th coup attempt, over 200 journalists have been targeted for detention, more than 100 journalists were arrested, dozens of media organizations were shut down and as a result of those actions at least 2, 308 journalists have lost their jobs.
Under conditions of no transparency and an absence of free and open communication journalists were targeted with baseless accusations and denunciations. In the name of fighting coup plotters and the so-called Fethullah Terror Organization (FETO), journalists who have devoted all their lives to resisting unconstitutional and undemocratic movements have been arbitrarily made into victims of actions by state agencies. The permanent press cards of 115 journalists and ordinary press cards of a further 660 journalists have been cancelled without warning.
We do not claim that journalists are unprosecutable, but we do insist that journalism is not a crime. Silencing journalists, punishing journalism, shutting down TV channels only serves to weaken the efforts to investigate and thwart the real plotters of coups.
If a genuine fight against coups and coup plotters is the real intention, then the targeting and judicial harassment of those engaged in journalism should immediately stop.
We, the journalists’ associations which are signatories of this statement, demand an end to extraordinary practices such as arbitrary takeovers and closures of media organisations and shutting down TV channels without court decisions; and we demand the right to practise our profession freely under ordinary conditions including respect for the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In the name of people’s right to information we will continue to uphold these demands and to struggle for the freedom to practise journalism.
There can be no free society without a free press. Shutting down TV channels is not fighting the coup but doing exactly what a coup would have achieved.