The suppression of the opposition daily newspapers Bugun and Millet and of two national TV Channels just two weeks before the parliamentary elections, is no matter of surprise in Erdogan’s Turkey.
Only until the third quarter of 2015, 101 websites, 40 Twitter accounts, 178 news were censored in Turkey. In addition the country experienced attacks against 21 journalists, three media organs and one printing house; civil pursuits against 28 journalists and the six-fold increase of arrests of media representatives were recorded too, with 24 journalists and 9 distributors imprisoned, according to data published by Bianet, an independent Turkish press agency.
But Erdogan oppressive power on press freedom is not limited to an active censoring action: many other newspapers have reportedly practiced self-censorship to protect their business interests – which are wide – to avoid punitive action by the AKP government.
The Turkish Anti-Terrorism Law gives a broad definition of terrorism, crime and defamation which allows Turkish government to act violently against opposition media groups: article 8 of the anti-terror law punishes “written and oral propaganda and assemblies, meetings and demonstrations aimed at damaging the indivisible unity of the Turkish Republic with its territory and nation”.
The country, which was defined as the “grave of journalists” in a report published Saturday by the International Press Institute, is willing to enter into the EU accepting the so-called “Copenhagen Criteria”, whose main pillars are the freedom of expression and the equal access to a free press.
The subject is controversial: should a country which repeatedly violated the European Convention of Human Rights have the right to ask to enter into the European Union? Are European strategic interests in the region more important than basic freedoms?
More to follow…