Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) has depicted a grim picture with a special report that was published on World Press Freedom Day.
The report was authored by TGS legal and labor experts Ülkü Şahin, İlyas Coşkun and Beste Dönmez Gedek to record the press freedom violations in Turkey from April 2019 to April 2020.
According to the report, which is 150-page-long with its annexes, 85 journalists are currently in Turkey’s prisons. Throughout the past year, Turkish courts ruled for a total prison sentence of 178 years in 166 legal cases against journalists. Meanwhile, 37 journalists were physically assaulted.
Under such dire conditions, a TGS survey founded that 80,8 percent of journalists in Turkey said they were subjected to censorship, while 78,7 percent admitted that they practiced self-censorship. The unemployment level in Turkey’s media stands at 25-30 percent, the TGS said.
The report also cites dozens of examples in which journalists were arrested, assaulted, harassed or fined because of their news stories or public comments.
From corruption to COVID-19, Turkey continues to suppress news
The themes of the news and criticism that Turkish authorities attempted to suppress include government corruption and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report was announced on May 3 by TGS with a campaign that stressed the fact that the democratic public would be deprived of the much-needed information if journalists are continued to be purged.
“We wanted to stress with this campaign that the freedom of the press is not a privilege for journalists, but a prerequisite to fulfill the right of the public to be informed. Simply put, if journalists can’t do their jobs, we can’t be informed. Then, for instance, our natural resources will be plundered or murders will remain unsolved. The public can be informed through news only if the media is free. This is for the good of us all,” TGS executive Mustafa Kuleli said.