Turkey's business world raises voice for press freedom amid attacks
DHA photoTurkey's leading businesspeople have raised their voice for press freedom amid recent attacks on the media and journalists.
Leading business groups, including the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), have condemned a violent assault in which prominent daily Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan was injured on Oct. 1.
Sabancı Holding Chair Güler Sabancı has said social development cannot be sustainable if individual rights and freedoms are not prioritized and there is not a well-functioning democracy.
Speaking at the G(irls)20 Summit in Istanbul on Oct. 5, which focused on the role of women in societies ahead of the G-20 Leaders Summit in November, Sabancı noted that press freedom is a must to maintain a well-functioning democracy.
“Sustainable development cannot be ensured in an environment where individual rights and freedoms are not prioritized and there is not a well-functioning democracy. For sustainable development and a well-functioning democracy, press freedom is the key,” she said.
The Summit in Istanbul is calling for G-20 leaders to achieve over 100 million new jobs for women by 2025.
Sabancı, who is also the chairperson of the Sabancı Foundation, said the biggest obstacle to women’s participation in the workforce is the lack of recognition of gender equality.
“Unless we eradicate this misperception in the society, we won’t be able to see more women in educational, political or business life. We all see that equality between women and men needs to be ensured. We cannot develop unless we conceive across society that gender equality is not a privilege, but a right. Women do not want any privileges, just their rights,” she said.
Sabancı also noted that socioeconomic growth cannot be maintained without fostering more female participation in the workplace.
She said Sabancı Holding has placed crucial emphasis on the issue of women’s employment, with 38.5 percent of the company’s workforce made up of women, above Turkey’s average of 30.8 percent.
“We have also doubled the rate of women’s participation in top management to 14 percent over the last three years, and I believe this will increase even further. Four of our nine-person board are women. We have also focused on fostering women employment and girls’ education. For instance, we have conducted two separate studies with United Nations institutions to spread the idea of gender equality across society,” Sabancı added.
In a message to Ahmet Hakan, Sabancı said she condemned the "ugly attack," while expressing her wish to read his new columns as soon as possible.
Here is a selection of messages from leading businesspeople to Hakan:
Mustafa Koç (Koç Holding Chairman): I condemn the attack in which you have been targeted and extend my wishes of well-being to you and the Doğan Media Group. The value of the calls that you make with your columns, broadcasts and social media messages for a democracy with modern standards and a better legal order is now revealed once again. I believe that we have no option but to defend democracy and its fundamental element, the freedom of the press.
Rahmi Koç (Koç Holding Honorary Chairman): I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery.
Cem Hakko: (Vakko Holding Chairman): This attack that ostensibly targeted you was also directed at the freedom of the press. We congratulate you for being as calm as you have always been. Our greatest wish is to see the assailants and the masterminds in court.
Bülent Eczacıbaşı (Eczacıbaşı Holding Chairman): We condemn this saddening incident and wish you a speedy recovery.
Sani Şener (TAV Holding Chairman): It is a shame for those who respond to written criticism with violence, instead of writing.
Murat Ülker (Yıldız Holding Chairman): God willing, these days will pass, too.
Şarık Tara (Enka Holding Honorary Chairman): I am so sad for Turkey. I cannot speak. I wish you a speedy recovery. We are behind you.
Adnan Polat (Polat Holding Chairman): I condemn those who did it and those who made them do it.