Turkey has been consistently holding the last place in freedom of press and expression for almost the last 15 years. Being hostile to journalism and the truth, the government never gives up its aggression on the freedom of the press.
After the transition to the Presidential system, the government, which ruled the Presidency of Communication, the Press Release Agency and RTÜK with instructions and eliminated their autonomous structures, turned these institutions into a means of pressure against the media that has opposing views. The media is trying to be silenced with millions of lira fines and release penalties that will last for years. Currently,there are 37 journalists in prisons. While this number is decreasing day by day, unfortunately, there is no decrease in the number of journalists on trial in courthouses.
Like the whole world, Turkey leaves the second year of the coronavirus pandemic behind. The global financial crisis has influenced Turkey even more deeply. Policies of economic dependency have turned into a crisis. The ministers, whose “gleam in their eyes” is extinguished, can neither control the currency nor inflation. The people struggling with hunger are rapidly moving away from the government under these circumstances. The government increases the pressure to find a solution to the permanent damage
WHAT IS THE REASON FOR SEDEF KABAŞ’S ARREST?
Turkey entered 2022 with the arrest of a journalist. Journalist Sedef Kabaş was arrested on charges of insulting the President and released after 49 days of detention. Allegedly insulting the President over a proverb she used on a television channel, Kabaş got arrested in a midnight raid. Statements from the government before detention also denoted that the law could not make an independent decision. Following the statements of Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu, Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül, Vice President of AK Party Ömer Çelik, Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş, Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun and MHP Chair Devlet Bahçeli accusing Sedef Kabaş, no judge could be expected to make an independent decision. And so was the case with Sedef Akbaş. She was arrested. Consequently, this arrest shows us that our legal system has turned into a structure that works with instructions. Unfortunately, if the press is not free, the law cannot be free.
A JOURNALIST WAS KILLED, A NEWSPAPER WAS ASSAULTED
Such hostile attitudes of the government towards journalists have a reflection in the local life as well. At the beginning of 2022, Güngör Arslan, the Concessionaire and Editor-in-Chief of Kocaeli Ses Newspaper, was massacred due to the news about a tender. 10 people were arrested along with the murderer Ramazan Özkan, who said “I did not like his writings”. At the same time, Mersin Haberci Newspaper was assaulted by dozens of people. The incident that led to the assault was again because of news about a tender. And again, the assaulters said ‘we don’t like your news.’
Regardless of whether the aimer is nationalist or corrupt, journalists have been targeted while corruption and decay have surfaced. The responsibilities of journalists are also increasing these days when information and truth are most needed.
Peace Journalism this gloomy atmosphere is undoubtedly not only experienced in Turkey. After Russia invaded Ukraine, successive deaths and violations of freedom of the press began. 6 journalists were killed in Ukraine. (Written on March 21) A censorship law has been enacted to restrain anti-war writings in Russia. Peace-loving journalists became the target. European countries, which claim to be the centre of democracy, banned the Russian media. Twitter blacklisted journalists working in Russian media in Turkey.
Thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives in this conflict of imperialist interests, while journalists became targets. The priority for journalists should be peace journalism in such cases. Society must act without forgetting that journalists, who are the voice and the power of the oppressed, play a great part in wartime.