On the occasion of the anniversary of the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the International Journalists Association (IJA) commemorates more than 100 colleagues who continue to be held in Turkish prisons for political reasons. The Erdogan regime accuses them, among other things, of being terrorists and participating in the coup attempt. “At a time when people were dying on the streets and the reason for the coup attempt was still unclear, the ruling Erdoğan declared that the coup attempt was a gift from God. Because everything looked like a comprehensive cleaning plan prepared by Erdogan.” states Dr. Kamal Sido, currently working as a Middle East expert at the Göttingen-based Association of Peoples under Threat (GfbV).
“Although repression reached an unprecedented level in the country with the coup attempt, many of our colleagues have been repeatedly arrested and many have been sentenced to long prison terms.” said Erkan Pehlivan, from Frankfurt-based journalists association IJA.
One of these journalists, investigative journalist Mehmet Baransu, was arrested on March 2, 2015. Various lawsuits are still pending against him. Baransu has already been sentenced to 17 years and 19.5 years in prison for covering corruption cases and illegal activities of government members. The journalist will face more than 1,000 years in prison if found guilty in all the cases in which he is tried.
Today, IJA and GfbV are publishing a short report titled “How Turkey equates freedom of expression with terrorism and how journalists are sentenced to long prison terms”.
“Although it has been five years since the coup attempt on 15 July 2016 in Turkey, 100 journalists and media workers are still behind bars. Hundreds of them had to leave the country to avoid the same fate.
For example, thousands of people whose newspapers or television channels were banned, or the employees at the state television TRT were fired. Jobless; they are treated as “outcasts” by the government and society,” write Erkan Pehlivan and Kamal Sido in their report.
Freedom of the press and expression is mainly hindered by two means: anti-terrorism laws and the so-called “insulting the president”. Anyone who criticizes can be accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization, being a member of a terrorist organization, leading a terrorist organization, establishing a terrorist organization, insulting the president” and sentenced to long prison terms.
The IJA therefore urges the federal government to call for the immediate release of all journalists from Turkish prisons and the dropping of unfair charges of terrorism and insulting the president.