Turkey jails more journalists than any other country
Uncategorized
December 11, 2012

From Now (Lebanon):

Turkey has been hailed as a beacon of democracy in a troubled region. Many cite it as an example for post-revolutionary countries of the Arab Spring, as it is held up as a successful fusion of liberalism and Islam.

But a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published on Tuesday sheds a different light on the country’s record of liberalism. With 49 journalists in prison, CPJ calls Turkey “the world’s worst jailer,” and it sits at the top of a list that includes Iran, China and Eritrea.

“There is no independent media left,” says Nuray Mert, one of the country’s most prolific journalists and columnists. Like her, many journalists in the country complain that an atmosphere of intimidation and self-censorship has reigned since Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan began consolidating his power. Mert used to write for Turkey’s biggest papers and was a regular guest on political talk shows. This changed when Erdogan singled her out during a public speech for her criticism of government policies.

“I wrote a column saying that we have to take the Kurds seriously and not treat them as subjects, that we have to grant them collective rights,” says Mert of the 15 million Kurds in Turkey whom the government has denied cultural and political freedoms for decades.

In a speech after her column ran, Erdogan more or less accused Mert of treason. Her editors understood the message, and she was fired. “Later I got a call not to show up on TV anymore either.” She started receiving a flood of hate mail and threats. “I was afraid that someone from the ultra-right nationalists would attack me.”

Still, Mert was never arrested, unlike dozens of other journalists who were charged with “helping terrorist organizations.” Just reporting on the outlawed Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), passing on contact details or assigning stories on the organization is enough to be labeled a terrorist by the Turkish government.

Erdogan’s officials and the courts use draconian anti-terror legislation written after the military coup in the early 1980s. The cases are handled by “special-authority courts,” which can hold suspects in custody for years without trial. Detainees can have their access to their lawyers and files restricted and are often prohibited from communicating with anyone outside their detention centers.

In the past, these courts have practically erased the presumption of innocence.
“There is a new term for journalists used by the government,” says Elif Ilgaz, a leading press freedom advocate. “They call it ‘organized journalism’ to discredit us.”

  • ZOA’s Mort Klein TV Interview Exposing Truth of New Arab/Muslim War on Israel and Jews

  • Our Mission
    ZOA STATEMENT
    The ZOA speaks out for Israel – in reports, newsletters, and other publications. In speeches in synagogues, churches, and community events, in high schools and colleges from coast to coast. In e-mail action alerts. In op-eds and letters to the editor. In radio and television appearances by ZOA leaders. Always on the front lines of pro-Israel activism, ZOA has made its mark.
    Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
    We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
    We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
    We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.