Following the declaration of the Second Constitutional Era, July 24th was being celebrated as the “Press Holiday” to honour the removal of censorship; whereas is now celebrated as the “Day on the Fight for Press Freedom” with the return of censorship following the 1971 military coup. Press organizations have pointed out, on July 24th this year, that the media is still oppressed by censorship, journalists are being imprisoned and the society’s right to information is destroyed.
Described by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as the “World’s largest journalist prison” for the last two years, Turkey still has 143 journalists in prison. Turkish Journalists Association (TGS) Chairman Gökhan Durmuş described the incidents as “a period in which 2-3 journalists are being taken into custody every week, who remain in custody from 10-15 days to one month, then some being released and some being arrested.” “We are going through a period in which the governmental power is controlling 95 percent of national media, pressuring the remaining 5 percent with penalties and arrests and leaving them unable to sustain themselves economically,” Durmuş stated.
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) Press-Labour Chairman Faruk Eren stated that censorship and self-censorship is actively present on the 110th anniversary of the abolishment of censorship. “July 24th is, under these conditions, not a holiday for us, but a day on which we will raise our voices once again for press freedom and freedom of expression,” Eren stated.
The written statement made by the Press Council further stated, “A number of journalists and writers as high as never before are either imprisoned or on trial as defendants within thousands of cases. Tens of press workers are being sentenced to imprisonment, charged with ‘supporting illegal organizations’ due to their writings or expressions at TV shows they participated in. Continuous lawsuits are filed against the smallest criticism, one-column news or one cartoon with imprisonment claims for up to tens of years.”