Turkish media is under three-way pressure: CHP
Rİfat Başaran - ANKARA
Turkey’s media is under pressure on “three fronts,” in what amounts to a crisis “without precedent in the country’s political history,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.
“Journalists are being punished, media bosses threatened and newspapers punished by financial measures. These are the threes arms by which the government attempts to silence outspoken media organizations,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a meeting with the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS).
“Not even in post-coup periods [in Turkey] has the media ever gone through such hard times. The media has been divided and polarized, especially since last year’s coup attempt. While pro-government media enjoys ample support, newspapers and television channels that the authorities do not like are censored,” he added, referring to measures taken after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The CHP head said journalists in Turkey are “routinely detained and imprisoned.”
“Measures taken against the media have unfortunately turned the world’s attention to Turkey. All imprisoned journalists must be released immediately and journalists should be able to write news stories freely,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“There were periods in Turkey when the news was written freely. Reports scrutinized the president, the prime minister and ministers and nobody was imprisoned. But today journalists need to worry about potential consequences when preparing news stories,” he said, lamenting “auto-censorship.”
‘CHP mayors have nothing to hide’
Kılıçdaroğlu also responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for all political parties to tackle mayors suspected of illegal acts, saying “not a single CHP mayor is guilty.”
“We will never accept it. We respect mayors elected by public vote,” he said.
His comments came after Erdoğan urged political parties to take action against their own mayors, “about whom questions have been raised,” following the resignation of a number of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors.
“The relevant parties should do whatever necessary to address these problem municipalities. Otherwise, inspectors from the Interior Ministry might be forced to intervene,” Erdoğan told journalists late on Oct. 31.
Kılıçdaroğlu blasted Erdoğan’s call, saying his comments amount to both a “confession of guilt” for AKP mayors and an accusation levelled at mayors from other parties.
“It effectively means ‘our mayors were guilty and I did what was necessary. Mayors from other parties are also guilty,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said, strongly denying any wrongdoing among CHP mayors.
“Our mayors are inspected almost 24 hours a day. We do not hold back. I urge mayors to account for every penny spent to the people of their towns. Our mayors are doing their duty,” he added.
The CHP leader also reiterated his previous criticism of the resignation of AKP mayors, saying elected mayors should not succumb to external political will.
“If another political authority discharges an elected mayor from duty or puts a mayor in a position to resign by threatening their family or blackmailing, then democracy is finished,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.