The founding cohort of the Journalists in Exile platform are a group of Turkish journalists with a professional background in Zaman Media Group, who had to flee persecution of voices of dissent in Turkey.
As the founding cohort, we decided to establish the Journalists in Exile on the fifth anniversary of the Catastrophe, the term referring, in our own professional memories, to the takeover of Zaman Media Group, on the 4th of March, 2016, by brutal police force based on an unconstitutional court ruling.
Zaman Media Group was the leading free media group in Turkey at the time of the takeover, publishing the largest circulating Turkish and English dailies (Zaman and Today’s Zaman) and the largest circulating newsweekly of Turkey (Aksiyon).
On the 5th of March, 2016, the curator appointed to the Zaman Media Group, took all the digital archives of our publications off the internet. We were literally erased from history by one simple act. Following the thwarted coup attempt of 15 July 2016, more than 150 media outlets would join us in being shuttered and erased from history.
At the Journalists in Exile Platform, we want to document that “journocide” which involved literally death of journalists, but also erasing of 30 years of journalistic material from the internet, and burning of copies of our publications which were previously held at public libraries.
We won’t forget, and we don’t want the world to forget…
We want to shout out to the face of autocratic leaders that “Free Media Cannot be Silenced” even when they are taken over, shuttered and banned.
We intend to grow the Journalists in Exile Platform to give voice to the voices of all journalists who feel exiled, even when they are stuck in their own countries, but are not free to express their real thoughts.
The founding cohort of the Journalists in Exile Platform include the following:
1. Abdulhamit Bilici, the last editor in chief of Zaman Daily and the last CEO of Zaman Media Group
2. Sevgi Akarçeşme, the last editor in chief of Today’s Zaman Daily
3. Bülent Korucu, the last editor in chief of Aksiyon Newsweekly
4. Süleyman Sargın, the last general director of Irmak TV
5. Kerim Balcı, the last editor in chief of Turkish Review bi-monthly magazine