Zaman media group employees hold banners outside the headquarters of Zaman daily newspaper in Istanbul, Dec. 14. REUTERS Photo
The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Turkey Journalists’ Labor Union (TGS) have released a joint statement to condemn the Dec. 14 police operation against the Zaman and Samanyolu media outlets, saying freedom of press and opinion are being “punished” in Turkey.
“Almost 200 journalists were previously held in prison on charges of being a member of a terror organization, violating their right to a fair trial. Journalists are now being detained once again. These developments mean that freedom of the press and opinion are punished in Turkey, which takes its place in the class of countries where the press is not free,” the statement read.
TGC and TGS called on all journalists to “stand in solidarity” until the country reaches a level of press freedom compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and developed democracies.
They also reminded the government and the opposition of their duty to allow media workers to do their jobs without fearing for their lives, being arrested, or being fired, also referring to the public’s right to get information and learn the truth.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Press Council has also slammed the operation, saying it is “impossible to legitimize the operation.”
Righteous feelings of justice and freedom should dominate in a state of law which respects human rights, instead of primitive revenge motives, the council said, also asking for all the judicial and factual justifications that formed the basis of the operation to be revealed with concrete evidence.
The Turkish National Committee of the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) also released a statement in which it labeled the police raid as "the latest blow against the freedom of the press in Turkey."
"Just like critical journalists had been arrested by alleging that they were 'coup plotters' or 'terrorists' in the past, now our colleagues are being targeted by calling them the members of 'the parallel structure' within the state," the IPI Turkey said in the Dec. 14 statement.