Critical media are under pressure in Turkey says Ertugrul Kurkcu, Honorary President of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). He tells RT that the banning in Turkey of Russia’s Sputnik News agency was due to its broadcasting of information viewed by Ankara as undesirable.
“Sputnik has been targeted for being one of the main sources that is channeling news and information which Turkish authorities are neglecting or banning in Turkey. Sputnik is an open window to international affairs. All critical channel, TV and newspapers, are under pressure in Turkey,” Kurkcu said in an exclusive interview.
Sputnik is a Russian state news agency whose reporting from Turkey has been shut down by the government without prior notification, using “administrative measures” based on Turkey’s 5651 internet-regulating law.
Sputnik‘s Turkish bureau chief has been blacklisted by Ankara, which refused him entry to the country on landing and seized his residence permit and press credentials. These actions received broad international condemnation, raising questions about press freedom in the country.
Kurkcu explained that by taking such actions, Turkish authorities want to keep the public isolated from what is actually happening in the world.
“The Turkish authorities, government and president are pursuing an international and domestic policy that is losing ground in Turkey and in the world, so they want to keep the Turkish public informed from a single channel controlled by the president personally.
“All the headlines of newspapers and all major prime time news outlets are being personally directed by Turkish President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan]. So any information channel which is [broadcasting] the truth is targeted,” Kurkcu said.
A Turkish district court approved the government order to block internet access in the country to the Sputnik website. Kurkcu says Russian news media is especially undesirable in Turkey in view of the recent deterioration of relations between the two countries. Public opinion is not taken into consideration on these issues, he stated.
“Unfortunately, opposition parties in Parliament have been converging to support the [ruling] Turkish government. They are downplaying their criticisms, particularly on Syrian affairs, therefore political discontent among the Turkish public and its reflection in Parliament are not symmetrical.”
The move to block Sputnik’s website came on the heels of an EU resolution last week which denounced what they called a “serious backsliding on fundamental freedoms” in the country, including the escalation of violence in Turkey’s southeast and the government’s “violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers, including Zaman.”
Erdogan’s government has previously launched a crackdown on a number of Turkish media outlets critical of Ankara’s policies, but this is the first time an international news agency has been gagged.
Turkish court backs blocking of Sputnik news agency website, RT.com, April 16, 2016
Dangerous & disproportionate’: Sputnik shutdown in Turkey slammed by OSCE, rights activists, RT.com, April 15, 2016
Turkey failing on rights, press freedoms, European Parliament says, Reuters, April 14, 2016