Turkey 25 July 2002

Turkey has lots of media so there’s plenty of news to read.

Except for some news, which gives you a better idea of what the regime is like. The missing news is about the Kurdish minority and anything about the army’s major role in national institutions. These are taboo subjects and unofficially banned.

Several dozens journalists of all opinions are hauled into court every year for defying this censorship. Anyone who criticises the army in any way is systematically targeted. Several daily papers have been prosecuted for reporting on hunger strikes by prisoners protesting against conditions of detention.

The army imposes its views through the National Security Council, which is charge of implementing the state of emergency in southeastern Anatolia, where it has shut down more than a dozen Kurdish newspapers in the past two years. Several murders of journalists in the region are still unsolved.

The announcement of democratic reforms as part of Turkey’s effort to join the European Union has not yet changed anything. Media and freedom of expression offences are still just as harshly punished with the help of an arsenal of repressive laws to protect the state against the demands of the Kurds, Islamic fundamentalists and the far left.

More than 1,000 radio stations broadcast in Turkey, but not one is allowed to put Kurdish music on the air. Those who do are promptly closed down by the country’s TV and radio authority. At least five journalists are still in prison for publishing news and opinions that are nothing more than plain freedom of expression.

News in Turkey? Censorship is all you’ll get!

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