The state of emergency “should be lifted” and imprisoned journalists should be released ahead of the upcoming elections on June 24, the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) said in a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
“We have been considering the necessity of lifting the state of emergency, releasing journalists in jail, the return of fundamental rights and freedoms to the citizens for healthy elections,” it said.
“We also deem a duty to demand the removal of barriers to freedom of expression, an end to the oppression of journalists, writers, academics, artists, and the independence of the judiciary for our country to reach a bright future,” it added.
Reminding that the punitive and financial pressures on the journalists have increased since the state of emergency was declared following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, “censorship has been on the rise, investigative journalism has been restrained and 148 journalists are still kept behind the bars,” the statement read.
The TGC also emphasized that politicians, both those in power and on the side of the opposition, have important responsibilities to reduce the tensions and polarization among the society.
Calls from the opposition
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has declared several principles in order to provide press freedom.
“You have my word, we will implement all of them if you give us the mandate on June 24,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, referring to restricting media organization bosses from operating in several industries, preventing monopoly in the distribution sector, unionization of journalists, reorganizing the media watchdog and regulating the advertisement industry.
On the other hand, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy group chair Bülent Turan has said the press is a vital component of a democracy.
“We have witnessed [the press] being used as a tool of political tutelage especially in times of putsches,” he told reporters, celebrating them on World Press Freedom Day.
The World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has marked Turkey’s 58 point-decrease over 13 years to the rank of 157 among 180 countries.
“A state of emergency has enabled authorities to eliminate dozens of media outlets with the stroke of a pen,” RSF said on April 25 in its announcement of the latest index report.
Hurriyet Daily News