IPI decries censorship at Turkish political party convention in Ankara

Dissident newspapers, television channels prevented from covering event

By: Steven M. Ellis, IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser

VIENNA, Oct 1, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today condemned reported instances of censorship by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) related to the party’s Congress yesterday in Ankara.

Hürriyet reported that the party barred dissident newspapers and television channels from covering the event, including daily newspapers Cumhuriyet,SözcüAydınlıkEvrenselBirgünYeniçağ and Özgür Gündem, and broadcaster İMC TV. Other sources told IPI the broadcaster Ulusal Kanal was also barred from the convention.

The AKP also reportedly prevented Habertürk TV from broadcasting a program in which journalist Utku Çakırözer, Cumhuriyet’s Ankara representative, was to offer live commentary from the convention hall on Saturday, the night before the convention took place.

A source told IPI that an adviser to AKP Vice President Hüseyin Çelik threatened to cancel an appearance by Çelik on the channel if it broadcast Saturday’s program with Çakırözer. The source added that Habertürk TV acceded to the demand to cancel the broadcast with Çakırözer after the adviser produced a copy of a document prohibiting Cumhuriyet journalists from entering the empty convention hall on Saturday or during the convention on Sunday.

IPI’s Turkish National Committee issued a statement yesterday on behalf of theFreedom for Journalists Platform (GÖP), an umbrella group representing local and national media organisations in Turkey.

“The news that reporters and journalists from some press organs are not allowed to enter the AK Party’s Congress is very worrying,” the group said.

“Monitoring this historical event of the ruling government party on the spot and transferring it to its readers and viewers are primary duties of news media.

“We have previously protested the accreditation limitations at other institutions. But now, it is very disappointing that the same accreditation is being applied by a political party whose existence depends on democracy.

“We wish to believe that necessary steps will be taken to correct this decision which will raise doubts among the journalists who will enter the congress.”


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