Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy and former journalist Barış Yarkadaş on Monday said that in October, 12 journalists in Turkey have been detained, four arrested and 11 given prison sentences.
“Democracy is in agony; journalists can’t breathe,” he said.
Underlining the refusal of the Ministry of Justice to answer his parliamentary question, the CHP deputy said: “We inquired from the Ministry [of Justice] the number and names of prisoners who acknowledged their profession as ‘journalist/writer/publisher’ [in Turkey]. [But] the ministry refused to provide the names and numbers [of these journalists] on the grounds that that would violate their right to privacy. We can’t understand what they are hiding [from the public].”
Pointing to the heavy pressure that journalists are facing today all over the world, Yarkadaş went on to say: “One of the rings in this chain [of persecution of journalists] is the AKP [Justice and Development Party] rule. Increasingly exerting pressure on journalists, the AKP is putting them into a death agony.”
According to a report by the T24 news website on Monday, with ongoing legal cases and new arrests, the number of imprisoned journalists has now reached at least 155.
This number includes recently arrested journalists İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan from the left-wing Etkin news agency (ETHA) and İsmail Ersan from the state-run Anadolu news agency and excludes Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy and Ömer Çelik, who were released last week.
Following a failed coup on July 15, 2016, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, an international delegation of civil society organizations visited Istanbul to demonstrate solidarity with writers, journalists and media outlets in Turkey.
International civil society organizations have condemned the Turkish government for abusing an ongoing state of emergency in the country to suppress freedom of expression and have called on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists detained without evidence and to cease its harassment of the few remaining independent and opposition media outlets.
Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has called on Turkish authorities to put an end to an ongoing media crackdown in the country and to free the journalists held in Turkey’s prisons.
“Turkey now jails more journalists than any other country. One third of all imprisoned journalists in the world are being held in Turkish prisons, the vast majority waiting to be brought to trial. Journalists and media workers from all strands of opposition media have been targeted in an unprecedented crackdown since the violent coup attempt in July 2016. Coupled with the closure of more than 160 media outlets, the message is clear and disturbing: the space for dissent is ever-shrinking and speaking out comes at an immeasurable cost,” Amnesty said in statement on Friday.