Press body reacts to Turkish PM’s criticism

Press body reacts to Turkish PM’s criticism

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Press body reacts to Turkish PM’s criticism

The Progressive Journalists’ Association President Ahmet Abakay. DHA photo

The Progressive Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be respectful of the people’s right to knowledge, freedom of the press and expression by no longer regarding journalists as public servants or advisors working for the government.

“Newspapers, televisions are not units or institutions working under the prime ministry or the government, and journalists are not public servants or advisors of the prime ministry,” ÇGD President Ahmet Abakay said in a statement released on March 3.

The statement came in response to Prime Minister Erdoğan, who condemned on March 2 the leak of details of a meeting between the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to the Turkish press, labeling it a “dark operation conducted through the media.”

Criticizing the journalists responsible for publishing the story, Erdoğan said media organizations that tried to hinder the ongoing peace process were “against the government.”

Referring to daily Milliyet’s headline story, Erdoğan said the media should not have covered this report if they truly cared for the Turkish people and wanted to contribute to the steps undertaken by the government, stressing the sensitivity of the process. “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,” he said.

“Journalists and media institutions do not ask what to report or not and what to write or not to prime ministers, the Governor, the Prosecutor, the Imam or the Diyanet. They wouldn’t be journalists if they asked; they would be embedded journalists,” Abakay said.

Beneficiaries not reporters’ business

What could be debated was the reliability of the story, Abakay said, stressing that the reporter would not care about who benefits from the story.

“In democracies, prime ministers do not interfere in freedom of expression, freedom of media and the people’s right to get news,” Abakay noted.

The prime minister asking media to stand with the government is a request outside of democracy, he stated, adding that 80 percent of media intuitions in Turkey have already been standing with the government, with or without pressure. “The prime minister is not satisfied with that and wants to receive the entire media,” Abakay said. k HDN