Pressures on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey discussed in Italy
The crackdown on media and freedom of expression in Turkey has reached its highest level due to the massive earthquake and the upcoming elections. While the public in Turkey was preoccupied with the earthquake, the government authorities imposed a bandwidth restriction on Twitter and continued to block access to news websites and their content. İsmail Sağıroğlu, Media and Ethics Committee Coordinator of the International Journalists Association e.V., was the guest of the Italian Ambasciata dei Diritti Marche Association, which works for the spread of democracy and for people to exercise their rights equally.
Explaining that 179 media organizations in Turkey were shut down with a decree law issued overnight, Sağıroğlu said, “Before the upcoming elections, earthquake victims are afraid of being arrested while demanding even their basic rights. The first thing the government thought of after the earthquake was to narrow the bandwidth on Twitter to prevent people from demanding their rights. Journalists close to the government reporting from the region cut their voices off the air to prevent the voices of the victims from being heard. The elections will also determine whether the climate of repression and fear will dissipate. There are currently more than 60 journalists in Turkish prisons.” Sağıroğlu talked about the International Journalists Association’s support for refugee journalists and its work for the development of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey and around the world.
The other guest of the conference was Francesco Marilungo, a writer and researcher on Turkey. Marilungo explained that the history of Turkish democracy has been constantly interrupted: “The atmosphere of democracy in the 2010s disappeared again. This was also a good period for the economy. Events like the Gezi protests, the blockade of Kurdish cities, the operations in Syria showed Erdoğan’s true face. In a sense, he summed up all the bad qualities of Turkey in his own person. Now, before the upcoming elections, Erdoğan’s government has never looked so weak. Erdogan, who came to power with the 99 earthquake, may leave with the earthquake in 2023.”