The lifeblood of democratic states depends on the freedom of the media
The common point of the statements published by the World Press Professional Organizations on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, is always the call for “the end of violence and censorship against journalists”. However, since this call has not been adequately answered, two indispensable parts of democracies, “freedom of expression and thought, the right to access public information”, are violated.
The lifeblood of democratic states depends on the freedom of the media. Journalists, the unconditional defenders of freedom of expression, ensure that the state is accountable to the public. Members of the press, research, write and hold accountability on behalf of the public. They are the spokespersons of the people, not the powers that be. Those who manipulate are those who inform the public unfounded, without investigating the facts, contrary to professional principles. Such manipulations facilitate the corruption of regimes. It should not be forgotten that “Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracies.”
In our world where oppressive regimes are on the rise, the importance of journalists who do their job properly has increased even more. This is because such regimes maintain their ambitions for power by drawing an iron curtain between citizens and reality. For this, they apply their repressive regimes on journalists.
On the one hand, there is a traditional war with tanks and missiles in Ukraine. On the other hand, there are also the disinformation wars called ‘hybrid’, launched by Russia months ago. We believe that the course of this war will change thanks to the facts made public by journalists who continue their duties in the most difficult conditions in the war zone.
Were it not for journalists who never bowed down and did not sell their pens, we might not have heard of the power corruption and tears shedding in countries governed by authoritarian regimes. However, brave and honorable journalists never broke their stance despite the intimidation of the regimes.
More than ever, we need dedicated journalists. We must give our full support to support them and enable them to pursue the truth. The pressure and threat against them is against the society’s access to information, ability to hold accountability, and general rights and freedoms.
Considering that journalism is not just a profession, but a reflection of social responsibility and human dignity, we invite local, national and international actors to prepare this environment. We demand the unconditional release of journalists behind bars in different geographies and the repeal of laws that criminalize freedom of thought.
We greet journalists, who carry out their profession with dignity and by adhering to universal principles, with love and respect. On the World Press Freedom Day, we once again inform the public that we are in solidarity with all members of the media.
It should not be forgotten that cruelty feeds on darkness, and journalists are the ones who light up the darkness.
Fethullah Gülen’s Message Commemorating World Press Freedom Day
“May 3, 2022– On the occasion of the United Nations World Press Freedom Day, I join the international community in affirming the importance of freedom of the press all over the world and supporting journalists to perform their duties without any hindrance.
Freedom is what makes a human truly human. Freedom of expression and of the press also are very important fundamental freedoms for the social health of a society. Unfortunately, these freedoms are not respected in many parts of the world today. Journalists trying to fulfill their duties are faced with all kinds of obstacles, sometimes they are tried to be intimidated by unlawful threats and harassment, and sometimes by being imprisoned by a judiciary that is subordinated to politics.
Unfortunately, my homeland, Turkey, is at the bottom of the world’s list of countries for freedom of the press. No voice is allowed, except for those media organs and voices that accept to work as a propaganda tool of the government. It is as if the Turkish society is exposed to a wholesale brainwashing. We must commend the heroic and admirable actions of journalists who had to go abroad to avoid persecution, who were subjected to stalking, threats and harassment in the places they sought refuge, but who still are trying to do their duty.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I pray to God Almighty to bring us to the days when all fundamental human rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and the press, will be respected and upheld.”