The Turkish opposition party CHP said journalists and media outlets face more than 500 legal cases, while 32 members of the press remain in prison.
More than 770 journalists were fired and more than 150 arrested in Turkey in 2015 for reasons related to their work, the country’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said Monday.
According to CHP deputy chair Sezgin Tanrikulu, 774 journalists were fired and 484 legal actions were taken up by judicial authorities against journalists, media organizations and news websites.
He said 238 journalists faced court cases in 2015 while 156 journalists were detained at some point or another that same year. At least 32 journalists remain imprisoned. Meanwhile, seven Turkish media companies came under investigation in 2015.
The news comes one day after Turkey marked the 55th anniversary of Law No. 212, which describes and protects the rights of journalists and is celebrated as Working Journalists’ Day in the country.
Stressing there was no reason for celebration, hundreds of journalists and free speech activists took to the streets Sunday to protest the government’s crackdown on journalists and media.
But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who many see as the main force behind the media crackdown, congratulated reporters and press members by stressing in a message Sunday that the freedom of media was important for the democracy of a country.
“Media should be free; to the extent those working in the press, journalists and reporters are free, the democracy of the country will be stronger to the same extent,” Erdogan said in his message.
However, commenting on Erdogan’s remarks, Tanrıkulu said the current situation in Turkey resembled a “bankrupt” democracy. Turkey, according to Reporters Without Borders, ranked a troubling 149 out of 180 on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index.
According to Tanrukulu, the government is using anti-terrorism laws and others that criminalize to impede freedom of the press.