New York, July 29: In the wake of the recent attempted coup in Turkey, two eminent freedom experts of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) condemned the ongoing crackdown on journalists and the media by the Government of Turkey, on Thursday.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), reports indicate that the Government ordered the closure of three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio channels, 45 papers and 15 magazines. Since the 15 July attempted coup, authorities have issued arrest warrants against 89 journalists and have already arrested several of them, blocked access to more than 20 news websites, revoked the licenses of 29 publishing houses, and cancelled a number of press accreditations.
“The simultaneous arrests of independent journalists and shutdowns of print and broadcast media strike a major blow against public debate and government accountability,” said the experts – David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media – in a statement.
“We strongly urge the Turkish authorities to reconsider these decisions and confirm their obligations to media freedom,” they said. Numerous academic institutions, schools, civil society organizations were also ordered to close down by decrees issued after the adoption of the measures that could be taken under a state of emergency on 23 July.
“The attempted coup cannot justify such a broad attack against almost all voices, not just critical ones but analytic and journalistic,” Mr. Kaye said. “The widespread and abrupt nature of the measures, lacking even the basic elements of due process, is shocking and unprecedented in recent times in Turkey.”
“It is quite clear that this wave of restrictions against media groups does not meet the basic international standards concerning restrictive measures even in times of emergency,” Ms. Mijatovic said. Both experts expressed their continued willingness to discuss their concerns with Turkish authorities.