Media workers never deserve pressure! Despite everything, as journalists, we have the right to neither be offended nor give up. We should all be united on this. We must fight until the end to protect the freedom of press and expression!
The world is turning into a giant prison with iron bars for journalists trying to be the voice of truth. Last autumn, during a media conference in one of the Scandinavian countries, I listened to a Belarusian journalist couple. When they were making a presentation about what happened in their country, I was very impressed by what was told. They explained in detail that because their colleagues were arrested, they had to hide for a while, and then they had to flee to another country.
The Belarusian husband and wife explained that the presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020 were fraudulently won by Alexander Lukashenko. They also talked about the protests of the people in the streets, threats, and violence against journalists, their detentions, and the deportation of foreign journalists. What the Belarusian couple told, lawlessness, violence, injustice, and the mood, did not seem foreign to me as someone who tried to do journalism in Turkey.
Not knowing what will happen to you tomorrow and the danger of death are the great risks of journalism. However, it should not be the fate of journalists to be subjected to violence by the police, to be deprived of their freedom by slander one night, to see the sky through wire fences, to survive in solitary confinement, to be exposed to the cold stone walls! Journalists cannot be prosecuted unlawfully, as they have a profession to inform the public correctly. They cannot be imprisoned for years without proof. Journalism is not a crime! Freedom of the press is an indispensable part of democracy! At this point of freedom, global media freedom is unfortunately deplorable!
The International Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced that the number of jour- nalists jailed hit a new global record of 293 in 2021. According to the committee’s annual report, there are three countries with the highest number of journalists in jail. China ranked first. Myanmar came second while Egypt came third. Vietnam and Belarus came in fourth and fifth place.
The number of journalists behind bars has in- creased and reached a high record in 6 years. It has become a clear indication of the growing intolerance towards press freedom and independent journalism in the world, and the ruthlessness of authoritarian regimes. The world has turned into a giant prison for journalists. Turkey is in sixth place on this list! Since 15 July 2016, the pressure on the media has gradually in- creased. Thousands of journalists who are defined as dissidents no longer carry out their profession. Hundreds of them are being tried unlawfully.
According to the CPJ report, many journalists left their profession in the last five years in Turkey. The report of Reporters Without Borders (RFS) supported this fact. The report also underlined that the government controls approximately 90 percent of the Turkish media.
Unlike RSF and CPJ, non-governmental organizations state that the number of journalists in jail in Turkey is higher than what is stated in the reports. According to the list prepared by the jailedjournos.com platform, which works on journalists in prison, 68 media workers and 64 journalists have been in jail unlawfully for years in Turkey.
The method of punishing journalists is not limited to keeping them behind bars. According to the press freedom report for July 2021 by the Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ), 61 women journalists were subjected to violence, threats or harassment. The countries with the highest number of cases were Turkey, Georgia, and Belarus.
No one deserves to be unlawfully detained. Media workers do not deserve oppression. They try to do their jobs with the rights given to them by the law, constitution, and democracy, and they do not give in to pressure. As journalists, we are the voice of truth. Despite everything, we have the right nei- ther to be offended nor to give up. We should all be united on the attitude against journalists. We must fight until the end to protect the freedom of the press and expression!
RABIA YAVUZ TÜRE
- She worked as an editor for important news sites in Turkey. As an exiled journalist, she settled in Nor- way with her family after the lawlessness in Turkey. She works as a freelance journalist and content producer in Norway. She gives voluntary support to human rights associations and charities.