ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DHA photo
Harsh criticism by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
over the publication of minutes allegedly taken in a meeting between lawmakers and the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, to discuss peace negotiations with Turkey’s government is concerning, according to the International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe
Media Organization (SEEMO).
Erdoğan has repeatedly condemned the publication by Turkish daily Milliyet last week of a document purportedly written during a Feb. 23 meeting between Öcalan and three deputies from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on İmrali island as a part of the peace process concerning the Kurdish issue.
Erdoğan has said such leaks aim to disrupt that process.
“I plead to 70 million people not to give credit to malevolent news, rumors and dark operations conducted through the media and plots laid via the media,” Erdoğan said during a public meeting in the northwestern province of Balıkesir.
“The job of journalists is to report on matters of public interest, which we believe include information on the potential resolution of a conflict that has dragged on for nearly three decades and claimed more than 40,000 lives,” IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said in a statement today.
“Such unfortunate remarks by the prime minister are unacceptable with regard to democracy, as well as its integral element, the freedom of the press,” IPI’s Turkish National Committee said in a statement yesterday.
“With these remarks, the prime minister directly attacked the freedom of the press, suppressed it and created an atmosphere of fear that can increase self-censorship, which is the number one problem of the Turkish media. This is why we find that it’s necessary to reiterate some truths about journalism and the freedom of the press, in the context of the prime minister’s threatening speech.”
The fact that no party has refuted Milliyet’s story on the “Imrali transcripts” and that almost all of Turkey’s newspapers quoted the story the following day show that it was true, according to the local committee.
“Milliyet achieved a great journalistic success. The public has been informed truthfully about a process that it has an interest in learning about. This is honest and proper journalism. Therefore, what the prime minister calls to be brought ‘down’ is journalism itself,” the statement said.
“If that’s how you are doing your journalism, shame on you! The media will say [the same thing all over] again: The prime minister is attacking us. But whoever tries to spoil the process inside the media is against me and my government,” Erdoğan had said.