Turkish journalists rally for press freedom amid rising pressure
Burcu Purtul Uçar - ISTANBULJournalists have rallied in Istanbul in solidarity with colleagues who have faced politically-motivated attacks and threats in recent weeks.
After gathering in the Tünel neighborhood of the central Beyoğlu district on Oct. 3, journalists marched to Galatasaray Square with placards reading: “Free press cannot be silenced.”
Dozens of prominent journalists, including Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin, Hürriyet Daily News Editor-in-Chief Murat Yetkin, Hürriyet columnist Tufan Türenç, Hürriyet Digital Coordinator Bülent Mumay, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Cihan News Agency General Manager Abdulhamit Bilici joined the protest.
“From having issues about freedom of the press we have arrived at a point where we don’t even have life safety. We have serious concerns,” Press Council President Pınar Türenç said in a statement at the march, condemning recent threats and attacks.
Hürriyet’s Istanbul headquarters were pelted with stones by mobs on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8, while the newspaper’s prominent columnist Ahmet Hakan was injured in an assault by four men in front of his home on Oct. 1.
“We won’t abandon Turkey to these bandits and bullies. We are here to show it,” Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Ergin said, stressing that similar rallies could be organized every Saturday if necessary.
A number of politicians from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also attended the rally.
“Those who cannot confront criticism with words resort to slander, lies and threats. And when slander is not enough they resort to violence,” HDP deputy Garo Paylan said after the rally.