Anniversary of the military coup in Turkey (July 15)

Joint report on press freedom in Turkey (Press Release)

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the military coup in Turkey (July 15), the Society for Threatened Peoples and the International Journalists Association published a short report on press freedom in Turkey (Title: "Wie die Türkei das freie Wort mit Terrorismus gleichsetzt und Journalist:innen zu langjährigen Haftstrafen verurteilt"), focusing on the fate of 100 media workers and tens of thousands of political prisoners who were sentenced to prison based on charges of cooperating with the putschists.

According to the Turkish-born journalist Erkan Pehlivan and Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Consultant of the STP, the 100 journalists and media workers are now – five years after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 – still in jail, and hundreds were forced to leave the country to avoid this. Thousands of employees, for example at the state broadcaster TRT, lost their jobs after their newspaper or TV station was closed down. They are out of work and are harassed by the state.

"Five years ago, when the people took to the streets and the outcome of the coup attempt was not yet certain, Erdogan stated that he saw the coup as a gift of god. Apparently, he had prepared a cleanup plan that he could then put into practice," Sido stated. A largescale campaign against all opposition members was launched – without consideration of individual attitudes towards the putschists. For example, the Kurdish politician Salahattin Demirtas is still in jail, although he had condemned the coup attempt right from the very beginning. About 160,000 civil servants were arrested during the first few weeks and months after the coup attempt – and 312,000 persons altogether. 180 media institutions were closed down, and hundreds of journalists were detained. 100 of them are still in jail.

Erdogan's two main instruments to cut down on the freedom of the media are his anti-terror laws and the lese majeste laws. Media workers can easily be accused of propaganda for terror institutions or for founding such an organization. The same is true for "lese majeste", for insulting the president – even with a critical comment on Twitter.

Against this background, the STP reiterated its appeal to the German government to stop supporting the Turkish government's measures against Kurdish and Turkish activists and other Erdogan-critics. Instead, the German government should try to persuade its NATO-partner to lift the restrictions on the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, and to release the imprisoned media workers and political prisoners.

The report "Wie die Türkei das freie Wort mit Terrorismus gleichsetzt und Journalist:innen zu langjährigen Haftstrafen verurteilt" (in German) can be downloaded here.