Attacks on the Press Escalate Ahead of Turkish Elections

(picture description: Bugun television channel in Turkey broadcasting an overhead shot of police in riot gear standing face to face with journalists in a crammed area.)

"On Wednesday morning, Turkish riot police stormed the offices of Koza Ipek Holding, a media group in Istanbul housing the Bugun TV channel and the Bugun and Millet newspapers."

"Scenes of riot police suddenly and forcefully storming media outlets perceived to be critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become increasingly common in Turkey. In June the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 percent of the vote in the Parliamentary election, thereby surpassing the 10 percent electoral threshold needed for Parliamentary representation and taking away seats from President Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Since then, Turkey has experienced a significant uptick in attacks on media outlets viewed as sympathetic to the opposition parties, in particular the pro-Kurdish parties. The Koza Ipek Holding media group is affiliated with Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric and arch-rival of President Erdogan."

"As the November 1 elections approach — a “snap” election called by the AKP in hopes of regaining a Parliamentary majority — press freedom advocates are concerned that the increasing raids on media outlets and attacks on journalists represent a dire threat to Turkish democracy.

Date Published: 

Thursday, October 29, 2015