More than 2,000 journalists were fired in the past seven months due to increasing government pressure on the media, the head of the Pak Medya-İş journalists’ labor union said.
Pak Medya-İş Chairman İsmail Topçuoğlu said Turkey witnesses an unprecedented period in which record number of journalists have lost their jobs.
“We are witnessing the heaviest slaughter of journalists. Mass purges have increased in the past seven months and more than 2,000 press workers in the visual and print media were left jobless in the middle of winter. Journalists are now unable to pay their rent and credit card debts due to the government pressure on the media,” Topçuoğlu said.
In October of last year, Turkey witnessed the firing of hundreds of journalists after appointment of a panel of trustees to the İpek Koza Holding company in a government-backed move, which apparently aimed to intimidate independent journalists and attracted widespread negative reaction.
The trustees took over the management of the Bugün and Millet dailies and the channels Bugün TV and Kanaltürk early on Oct. 28 when police forcibly entered the broadcasting headquarters of the media group, during which journalists and protesters claimed they were subjected to police brutality. The trustees immediately fired dozens of journalists from the group and turned the news outlets, which used to have a critical stance, into government mouthpieces. The outlets were later shut down.
In a similar vein, hundreds of journalists critical of the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) regime have been fired from their jobs after government-backed trustees took over the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies earlier in March.
Pak Medya İş said some 200 press workers were dismissed since the takeover, adding that those who are still employed at these news outlets face mobbing.
Also in December, Turkey saw the screens of 14 TV channels go black, as well as the silencing of several radio channels that operate under the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group because they were removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) infrastructure.
Türksat dropped these media outlets despite having signed an agreement with Samanyolu Broadcasting Group that necessitated service being provided until 2024. The move left hundreds of journalists jobless.