Rage Over Erdogan Prohibiting Press Freedom
by Stephen Lendman
Outrage followed Erdogan’s latest blow to press freedom, taking over Turkey’s largest circulation broadsheet – Zaman and its English language Today’s Zaman edition, a brazen example of police state viciousness.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the takeover Erdogan’s “latest attempt…to silence critical media.”
Amnesty International (AI) blasted what it called “the latest deeply troubling episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media.”
“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices…Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights.”
“A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary, are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.”
In its annual report on human rights, AI documented the deplorable state of things in Turkey. Free expression and assembly are curtailed, media pressured relentlessly to support regime policy.
Excessive police force is rampant, torture and abuse in detention notorious, an independent judiciary virtually nonexistent.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed outrage over Zaman’s takeover, its executive director Joel Simon, saying the “move…paves the way to effectively strangle the remnants of critical journalism in Turkey.”
International Press Institute (IPI) Advocacy and Communications director Steven Ellis called Friday’s action “extremely troubling,” saying Turkey under Erdogan “appears…willing…to muzzle (anyone) dar(ing) to criticize (regime) policies” – especially when revealing state-sponsored wrongdoing.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers director Andrew Heslop condemned Erdogan’s move, saying “(w)e stand in solidarity with our friends and colleagues at Zaman in categorically denouncing this latest (regime) assault on press freedom…”
Reporters Without Borders’ secretary-general Christophe Deloire said Erdogan’s “interference in the media has reached a new level,” condemning what he called “illegitimate and intolerable.”
Peaceful protests continued on Saturday, riot police attacking demonstrators with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, able to cause serious injury or death.
RT International’s Paula Slier was caught up in what happened, saying “we’ve been heavily tear-gassed, so we ran for cover…People…are wiping their eyes. Some are sitting on the ground trying to recover.”
Unknown numbers of injuries and arrests followed. On Friday, a rubber-stamp regime controlled court ordered Zaman’s takeover.
Erdogan-designated trustees replaced management, staff forcefully removed from the broadsheet’s offices, some in handcuffs.
Zaman’s Internet connections were cut, removal of its web content underway.
War on free expression rages. Erdogan wants all criticism of his policies stifled, especially revelations of state-sponsored wrongdoing.
Obama and John Kerry remain silent, partnering in Erdogan’s worst crimes.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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