“The current political administration, which holds totalitarian tendencies and views, is trying to create an authoritarian regime where there is no room for free media” – says a Turkish columnist Kadri Gürsel.
There are systematic purges in Turkish media – journalists are being imprisoned, state media fosters the arrests, the authorities attempt to control the Internet, media eagerly works under self-censorship and media-tycoons get lucrative contracts in exchange for tame press.
Recently a bill has been approved in Turkey, according to which the government can block internet web-sites without prior trials and extract from there the content that is out of favor within 4 hours.
This is not the first attempt to get control over the Internet – a similar law was approved in October, 2014, but then the Constitutional court vetoed it. And the same year in March Twitter and Youtube were cut off in Turkey under instructions of a former prime-minister and a current President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was because of the voice recordings that spread out in social networks and discredited the government right ahead of the elections.
Journalists intimidations and detains are also a common practice in Turkey. The recent incidents were broadly covered in the media all around the world: investigative journalist Mehmet Baransu was arrested early in March this year for the story that he published in 2010. He disclosed the documents that revealed the conspiracy among officers who were going to commit a military coup against the Turkish government in 2003. Many participators were then detained for over 20 years of imprisonment. Now the case was raised again, accusing the journalist of having published the documents that are considered to be state secret.
And that’s not the only such case of arrest in Turkey for the last year.
Moreover, 2 remaining opposition media outlets (Zama and STV) were raided and their top managers were arrested. What is more, these arrests are totally supported and fostered by the state media.
However, state pressure is not the only problem. Self-censorship has long settled in Turkish media: journalists are driven not by the fear of getting to court or prison, but being fired.
The peak of self-censorship was at the times of Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013 against building-up the park territory. Then the majority of press cynically ignored violent clashes with civil police. And those several uncensored media outlets and their coverage both inside and outside the country Erdoğan called a conspiracy against his rule. Thereafter those journalists, who actively support independent press and stand for dignity are deprived from employment or left professionally outcaste.
This all happens in tune with a total corruption at the highest political echelons and attempts to gain control over the media: in 2013 broke out a scandal, the participants of which were ministers of Justice, businessmen with close connection to the government, bank managers, and the son of Erdoğan. They all agreed on collective financing the media in support of the ruling party.
This is how Erdagon managed to tame local media: in exchange for lucrative contracts all media-magnates have to serve the authorities. This is a self-fed corruption scheme: if the government does not ask for propaganda or censorship, the media holders will do.
More details you can find in the material by The Guardian that was prepared by Yavuz Baydar, the journalist and one of the founders of media NGO P24 that stands for independent journalism in Turkey and is a close partner of MYMEDIA.