According to the Media Monitoring Report, “in 2021, no steps were taken for the betterment of the conditions troubling freedom of expression and the press in Turkey.” In particular, the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, to not implement the European Court of Humans Rights’ verdict, and the measures adopted to restrict freedom of expression during the pandemic prove how “Turkey is far from living up to the universal standard of democracy.”
Turkey is the second country in the world, after China, with the highest number of imprisoned journalists. Most of the arrests happened while journalists were covering protests and public demonstrations.
- Over one-third of journalists have been arrested, persecuted, or have an ongoing trial.
- One out of every 10 journalists has been arrested at least once before the age of 24.
PHYSICAL ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS
In 2021, numerous attacks were reported throughout the country. Boursa-based radio programmer Hazım Özsu was murdered because of his religious statements on his radio show.
- 66% of the journalists working for local media stated they received threats
- 60% of the ones working for national media stated the same
SELF-CENSORSHIP IS INCREASING
Throughout the year, critical voices were raised against the government, both online and in the pro-government media. As a result, an atmosphere of fear is causing self-censorship among journalists.
- 60% of the journalists have had their news stories censored
- 73% of the journalists think they cannot practice their profession freely
- 50% of the journalists stated they gave up on their news stories
Police brutality has been on the agenda of professional media organisations throughout the year. It escalated with the entry into force from The General Directorate of Security prohibiting recording of law enforcement officers. As a result, professional media organisations organised protests in throughout the country.
- One third of them is not part of any organisation.
- Only 15% think there is strong solidarity among colleagues
Increasing censorship and attacks on journalists have also a serious impact on the overall perception of the profession.
- 80% of journalists think their work is becoming increasingly worthless
- about half of of them state that “they would not recommend the profession”
LEGAL VICTORIES OF 2021
Despite all the negative aspects, there have been some legal advances, such as the High Court verdicts on press freedom, the relative decrease in detention measures, journalists released from prison, legal advances by trade unions in a year when press organisations have joined forces on several occasions.
M4D vice chairman Yusuf Kanli said: “As the Association of Journalists (Gazeteciler Cemiyeti) in Turkey, we take pride in being members of the European Federation of Journalists. These past few years have been marked with increased cooperation between our Association and the EFJ. This cooperation has played an invaluable role in getting our message across the world regarding the situation of press freedom in Turkey. Monitoring the media environment plays a key role both in terms of informing the public, and putting the necessary pressure on lawmakers to make sure journalists and journalism is protected. We as the Association of Journalists applaud EFJ’s efforts to document the media landscape, and wish to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone involved in producing this report. We are sure this report will provide an invaluable resource for journalists and researchers not only in Europe, but everywhere.”