Turkish government using state of emergency to silence critics, shut down media: HRW

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Officers storm the headquarters of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey (EPA)

ARA News

ANKARA – Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Friday that the closure of eight independent news and current affairs TV channels had effectively ended critical television news reporting in Turkey.

The channels are among 23 television and radio stations which are facing closure, on the basis of a Turkish government decree.

According to HRW, this latest move to censor media exceeds any legitimate restriction justifiable on national security grounds. Turkey’s government has shuttered media outlets using the powers granted to it by the state of emergency, following the July coup attempt.

“Fears that the government would make opportunistic use of the state of emergency to silence critics who have nothing to do with the July 15 coup attempt have come true,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey Director at HRW.

“This week’s closure of TV and radio channels popular with Kurds, the Alevi religious minority, and supporters of opposition parties takes Turkey back to the old days and shows that the government wants no version of the news on television or radio other than its own,” she added.

On September 28, the state-run Anatolian Agency reported that 23 television and radio stations were to be shut down completely. The most prominent of these stations is the news and current affairs-focused İMC TV. İMC TV had already been removed from the state-owned Türksat satellite distribution platform in February, severely cutting its ratings.

A July decree ordered the closure of 131 Turkish media and publishing outlets. Over the past few days, officials from the Turkish Radio Television Supreme Council, accompanied by police, forcibly closed 5 more news channels which were partly broadcasting in Kurdish (Özgür Gün TV, Azadi TV, Jiyan TV, Van TV, and Denge TV). The children’s Kurdish-language channel Zarok TV was also closed.

“IMC TV is the most prominent news channel among those closed down and has played an important role in covering news of [the] conflict in the southeast and the deterioration of human rights in Turkey more generally,” Sinclair-Webb said. “Closing down media is censorship and deprives the public of access to information about critical developments in Turkey […].”

Reporting by: W. van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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