CPJ calls on Erdoğan to stop restricting free media in Turkey

CPJ calls on Erdoğan to stop restricting free media in Turkey

CPJ calls on Erdoğan to stop restricting free media in Turkey

Turkish PM Erdoğan has received a lobal reaction after calling for the ban of Twitter and YouTube following the publication of leaked voice recordings. AFP Photo

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, non-profit organization, has urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse all anti-press measures and laws in Turkey and to remove bans on social media in an open letter posted on the website of the New York-based organization.

“We … respectfully urge you to reverse all measures and laws aimed at hampering the free flow of information. The ban on YouTube should be lifted and any further attempts to stifle social media should be stopped; the prosecution, detention, and harassment of journalists in retaliation for their work should cease; the aggressive anti-press rhetoric should be abandoned once and for all; and your government should take on meaningful judicial reforms to reform its anti-press statutes,” read the letter signed by Joel Simon, executive director of the organization.

The letter was also sent to the ambassadors of Turkey and the United States, as well as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and some top EU officials in Brussels.

In the recent past, Turkey was hailed as a model for a region aspiring for freedom, democracy and tolerance but is today being criticized as a country drifting away from the principles and practices that define true democracy, the letter said, depicting the Turkish press as being under heavy pressure.
While recalling that the government banned Twitter, blocked YouTube and threatened to shut down Facebook following the adoption of a restrictive Internet Law, the CPJ said measures to silence media was not limited to online media.

“These recent measures, as well as the imprisonment of journalists, the use of force against the press covering protests, and the sacking of critical journalists in major news organizations, are a setback for Turkish democracy and a sharp reversal of the reform process that you and your party, the AKP [Justice and Development Party], have pushed forward since 2002. Your actions confirm international apprehension that Turkey is going down an authoritarian path, one that undermines your country’s reputation, political aspirations, economic interests, and international partnerships,” the letter said.

“Turkey’s ambitions to be a regional leader cannot be met in a context of increased censorship and intolerance to dissent. Prime Minister Erdoğan, you must not miss this historic opportunity for Turkey to act as a model of democracy and tolerance in the region. We urge you to stop moving away from that goal and resume Turkey’s march toward the advanced democracy that you and your party promised to bring to your country,” it said.