Crackdown On Media In Turkey: Journalists Join Hands To Document Cases Of Colleagues Facing Charges Like Crimes Against The State
Three years ago, a failed coup in Turkey led to a media crackdown. Since then, journalists have banded together to document the cases of reporters imprisoned or charged with crimes against the state, DW said in a report.
The report said as most of the media houses that are still publishing in Turkey have either been co-opted by the Turkish state or are owned by Erdogan supporters, details of these trials are being largely ignored.
But MLSA [Media and Law Studies Association], Platform for Independent Journalism [P24] and the International Press Institute [IPI] are just a few of a number of organisations tracking the trials of journalists.
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MLSA was founded by journalist Evin Baris Altintas in 2017 to track and document the cases against journalists, writers and academics imprisoned or charged with crimes after the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
Altintas believes the reason Turkish authorities targeted certain individuals is because they wanted to silence those willing to speak out against Erdogan and his policies.
But freedom of expression and media freedom are protected by Turkish law. “Nobody should be in jail for writing an article or a tweet,” Altintas was quoted as saying by DW.
In order to track whether the Turkish judiciary is following established legal procedures in their handling of these proceedings, MLSA monitors numerous cases as they make their way through the Turkish judicial system. When a hearing takes place, freelance reporters or employees of the project attend and subsequently publish the developments in both Turkish and English. The goal is to bring the greatest possible exposure to these cases, both inside and outside Turkey.
Similarly, IPI is a Vienna-based organisation made up of a network of media executives and leading journalists working together to defend media freedom. It has been working in Turkey since 1960 and has tracked the situation there since a state of emergency was declared by the Erdogan government following the coup attempt.
It has counted 252 journalists and media executives who have been subject to prosecution, of which 135 journalists remain behind bars. Their research also found that 140 media outlets have been forcibly closed since the state of emergency was enacted, leaving hundreds of journalists out of a job.
IPI says the rights of the journalists facing prosecution have been violated under Turkish law and that the judiciary ignores basic fair trial and due process guarantees.
And it is also concerned about the potential long-term damage that the ongoing media crackdown has had on the exercise of journalism in Turkey.
“The infrastructure of quality media has been seriously damaged and a generation of journalists faces an uncertain future in the profession.”