Turkey: Country has become 'a dungeon' for journalists

#FreeTurkeyMedia © Anthony Cole

Journalists in Turkey speak out over climate of fear since state of emergency was declared

“Turkey has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists” - Gauri van Gulik

#FreeTurkeyMedia campaign calls for the release of more than 120 journalists imprisoned in Turkey

Journalists in Turkey have spoken out about the stifling climate of fear that has enveloped the country’s media landscape since a state of emergency was declared almost two years ago, Amnesty International reported today on World Press Freedom Day (3 May).

More than 120 journalists have been jailed since the failed 2016 coup, and Amnesty has interviewed journalists across the country who are now under constant threat of arbitrary detention, prosecution and conviction for their work.

Their remarks come as journalists and members of the public around the world are set to take part in a global day of action for the #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign.

Hakkı Boltan of the Free Journalists Association which was shut down in November 2016, said:

"For journalists, Turkey has become a dungeon. We had 400 members when we were closed: 78 of them are now in prison. The only way this will change is if journalists around the world stand with us to build solidarity.”

Murat Sabuncu, editor of Cumhuriyet, sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on terrorism charges on 25 April, said:

“I love my country and I love my profession. I want freedom both in Turkey and around the world, not for myself, but for all jailed journalists and the only way to achieve this is through solidarity.”

Zehra Doğan, artist and editor of the first all-female Kurdish news agency JINHA which was shut down in October 2016, wrote from Diyarbakır prison: 

“I am in prison but I am not a prisoner. Every day we are showing that art and journalism cannot not be incarcerated. We will continue our struggle and we will continue to say ‘journalism is not a crime’ until all journalists are free.”

Çağdaş Kaplan, editor of the online news portal Gazete Karınca, said:

“Working under the constant threat of arrest and conviction makes life extremely difficult but journalism is our profession. We have to carry it out. There is a plainly visible truth in Turkey, but there is also an attempt to hide it from society. Somebody has to speak about it, and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, said:

“With elections approaching, Turkey needs a free media now more than ever. Brave journalists are continuing to do their job in a climate of fear and the world must show the Turkish authorities that we will not forget them or the scores of journalists languishing in jail.

“In Turkey, what we are witnessing is an attempt to end all independent journalism. Turkey has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists with some sentenced to life imprisonment simply for doing their jobs. As early as next week, with the verdict in the Zaman newspaper case, more could follow. The world cannot allow this to happen.”

#FreeTurkeyMedia is a campaign run by Amnesty with the support of PEN, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship and several other organisations.

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