Turkey’s democratic challenges beyond the election – What to expect for Press and Media Freedom?

Interview by Frederic Krull

One week after the decisive victory of the opposition party CHP over the ruling government’s party AKP in the Istanbul mayoral elections on 23 June, the ECPMF’ journalists in residence Nasan Öscan and Murat Bay are speaking out about Turkey’s democratic challenge and whether we can expect a positive influence on the Turkish media landscape as well.

Interview JiR

Prior to the re-run of the elections, we have seen smear campaigns, biased reporting over the candidates and misleading information, spread by pro-government media outlets. Yet Istanbul’s voters did not seem to be affected by such strategies. The obviously biased reporting, and the re-run election itself, may made people feel they are being fooled and no longer willing to listen to lies

Being a journalist means taking care of the people’s interests, not the government’s”

Says Nazan Özcan, current journalist in residence at the ECPMF

The opposition win is a vital sign for Turkish democracy. Nevertheless, we should not forget that the media, a key element of democracy is anything but free in Turkey. More than 140 journalists and media workers are in prison, and even more are facing trials, harassment or even physical threats. Some took the decision to leave.

If we really want to see a democratic Turkey, we need more solidarity.”

Says Murat Bay, current journalist in residence at the ECPMF

We as the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, provide refuge for a limited period of time and a safe and discreet place for journalists who are facing harassment and intimidation as a direct result of their work within our Journalists-in-Residence and legal aid programme. It is the international community’s duty to stand up for the right to free press and media in countries like Turkey, where these rights are under severe pressure.