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Stop targeting journalists in Turkey, says NUJ

21 June 2013

Police in Turkey raided the residences of journalists working for the daily newspaper Atilim, Özgür Radio and Etkin News Agency on Tuesday 18 June.

According to the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), police raided the residences of Sedat Senoglu, general editorial coordinator of the daily Atilim, Selvi Cosar of Özgür Radio and Derya Okatan, news editor of Etkin news agency. Following the raids, Sedat Senoglu and Selvi Cosar were taken into custody for questioning.

Gökhan Biçici, IMC TV news editor. and Emer Fidan, Ulusal Channel cameraman who had been arrested, were released on Tuesday. It was reported they had been beaten by the police.

The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliates, including the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland, have been receiving regular updates and reports from colleagues who are monitoring the safety of journalists working at home and abroad in Turkey.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has condemned the continuous targeting of journalists and media organisations following the police raid on Tuesday 18.

Concerns have also grown over the increasing state control of media organisations by the censoring body, RTÜK (the Supreme Board of Radio and Television). According to media reports, the RTÜK threatened to impose fines on TV channels that are critical of the government, including Ulusal Channel, Halk TV, Hayat TV and Cem TV.

It has been reported that the government is planning a draft law to regulate the use of social media following the claim by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that social media is a "threat to society".

The NUJ has written to David Cameron urging him to contact the Prime Minister to stress the need to respect the right of journalists to freedom of expression guaranteed by European and International law.

Article 26 and Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution also guarantees the citizen's rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration. The Turkish government is also bound by its international obligations such as the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10 on freedom of expression and Article 11 on freedom of assembly) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19 on freedom of expression and Article 20 on freedom of assembly).

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The violence against journalists must stop immediately. Journalists must be allowed to report in the public interest and must not been targeted for doing their job. The NUJ is supporting colleagues who have been attacked and we have asked David Cameron to contact the Turkish Prime Minister and call on him to respect human rights and the freedom of the press.
"The existing legal provisions and international obligations must be enforced so the media can report independently."

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) expressed its deep concern at threats by the Turkish authorities "to repress" strikes and peaceful demonstrations called for by Turkish trade union organisations.

Bernadette Ségol, general secretary of the ETUC, said:

"The increasingly authoritarian response by the Turkish government against people's legitimate grievances is a cause for deep concern. Sending in the army can only make matters worse. Turkey has expressed its European vocation and is a member of the Council of Europe. It must act accordingly."

Solidarity protests

As part of the two days of global solidarity protests across the world, the UK Trade Union Congress (TUC) has announced it is joining with global union federations, UK unions and the Turkish community to protest this Friday 21 June outside the Turkish Embassy in Belgrave Square in Knightsbridge from 3pm onwards - all welcome.

The NUJ Bristol branch have also organised a protest on Friday 21 June in support of media workers in Greece and Turkey - 6pm at the fountains in Bristol City Centre.

Journalists in jail

Barry White, NUJ member, recently visited colleagues in Turkey and witnessed the trial of Odatv journalist and author Yalçin Kük, who was sent back to prison on Thursday 13 June after a hearing lasting just over four hours in a court in Istanbul.

The 76-year-old is accused of establishing and administering an armed terrorist organisation, being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, inciting hatred among the public, procuring confidential documents relating to state security and attempting to affect the judiciary.

He has now spent over 800 days in prison.

The NUJ has a long-standing campaign in support of journalists in prison in Turkey and we are calling on the government to set them free.

Read Barry White's blog about his visit and the trial.

Support the campaign

Please support the campaign to protect the safety of journalists in Turkey and support the campaign to free the journalists in jail.

Write to your local Member of Parliament (MP) and contact your European parliament representatives – call on them to take immediate action to stop the crackdown from escalating. Members in Ireland can find out about their MEP representatives on the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland website.

If you are concerned about a colleague, especially freelance journalists, who may be working in Turkey, please get in touch via email: campaigns@nuj.org.uk

If you can't attend the solidarity protests - you can join with over 20,00 others and send a message to the Turkish government.

Tags: , press freedom, efj, solidarity, ifj, campaigns, protests, turkey, european convention on human rights, udhr, human rights