The latest violations of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime towards journalists and the media opposing his policies have added fuel to the fire of this burning human rights file.
On Friday, January 15, 2021, three unidentified persons in Ankara assaulted Orhan Uguroglu, a journalist at the newspaper Yeniçağ. Uguroglu posted a tweet including photos of him after he was beaten by unknown persons while he was in his car in front of his house.
Turkish media reported that Uguroglu has shed light on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and directed many criticisms against them due to their failure to manage the country’s crises.
Opposition media noted that this is not the first time a journalist has been beaten by unknown persons, especially if he opposes the ruling regime.
Closing opposition channels
The Erdogan regime has also targeted TV channels opposed to it, and even closed them, such as the Olay TV channel, which closed in late December 2020 after first starting its activities less than 30 days earlier.
Turkish opposition media reported that the channel was closed due to its broadcasting of a report on the meeting of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in parliament, which prompted the authorities to issue an order to close the channel as part of the regime’s restriction of the activities of the largest opposition parties.
Erdogan calls for boycott
At the beginning of 2021, the Turkish president called on citizens not to read the opposition newspaper Sözcü after it published a report under the title “Tears and Disasters 2020”, in which it criticized the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Erdogan said at the time, “I do not read the newspaper Sözcü, and nobody should pay for it unnecessarily. Hagia Sophia is the crowning star of 2020.”
On January 11, 2021, the World Press Freedom Index revealed that Turkey declined significantly during 2020, as it ranked 154 out of 180 countries, after it had ranked 99 in 2002. According to the index, the year 2020 witnessed the opening of 361 lawsuits against journalists, the arrest of 86 journalists and the imprisonment of 70 of them, as well as the resignation of nearly 100 journalists from their jobs due to the censorship exercised on them.
Opposing the ruling political line
Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin tweeted that the Erdogan regime is dealing with media that contradict the AKP’s political line and that the closing of opposition channels indicates that 2020 was a year of the collapse of independent media initiatives.
Yetkin added that the ruling regime does not want to broadcast or transmit the speeches and talks of the HDP in parliament on private channels, as Olay TV used to do. Therefore, it was closed, and it is expected that the opposition party’s speeches in parliament will be banned at any time. “The independent press in Turkey can survive as long as it remains in the echo chamber of those in power, without reaching the masses on a large scale,” he added.