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Media organisations respond to the current tension between media and the government

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 24 September 2008 joint declaration by the IPI National Committee and other professional media organisations in Turkey:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP government are not satisfied to only hold the majority at Parliament, but they are also attempting to place all national organizations, including non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, trade unions and media, under their control.

This is a serious threat to the democratic system.

The unjust accusations and interventions which the Prime Minister started and increased against the media, by calling on his supporters "not to take these newspapers to your homes", are unacceptable attacks which exist nowhere else in the world and which target the newspapers and journalists together with their readers.

Freedom of expression is essential. The right to learn the facts should be protected under any condition and by everybody.

As a result of freedom of opinion and expression, which should be protected by our constitution and laws, journalists use freedom of the press in a candid manner and for the benefit of the right to learn the facts. For this purpose, journalists must combat censorship and self-censure and keep the public advised.

Journalists' responsibilities to the public are above all other responsibilities, for example, to their employer and to the authorities.

On the other side, the executive body has the significant task and responsibility of ensuring that journalists are able to perform their profession, publish freely and secure publishing rights.

The executive body can not lay down preventive and obstructive economic, financial and political conditions on the free publishing of news, ideas and opinions. It can not even make a law in this regard, nor can it prevent the operation of media organs.

Journalists are under no conditions whatsoever prepared to apply threats or blackmail; rather they stand against such oppression as per the nature of their professional principles and appropriate conduct. While the journalists who fully comply with the mentioned principles expect the same from their Prime Minister, they likewise strongly condemn the contrary attitude, opinion and words. Journalists expect the politicians and rulers of the country to accept the criticism as well as the acclaim.

Journalists defend the respect of peace, democracy and human rights, as well as the universal values of humanity, plurality of opinion and diversity. Journalists do not discriminate according to nationality, race, gender, language, religion, class or philosophical belief among peoples, societies and nations, and avoid publications promoting hatred and hostility.

Therefore, journalists have the right to ask the executive body and its head, the Prime Minister, to refrain from using words and behaviors that promote hatred and hostility. We want everyone to be sure that journalists will defend the public right to get information to the full extent, despite the anger of the country's Prime Minister and executive body against the media. The right to demand information, freedom to obtain information, to comment and to criticize will be defended by journalists under every circumstance and will be their main responsibility. Consequently, in accordance with the principles of their profession, journalists are an enclave against the interference of government and similar bodies.

Considering the recent developments, it is more important than ever that the hurdles against the syndication of the journalists should be abolished. Monopolization of the media should be prevented. Editorial freedom should be secured. Press freedom will be strengthened with these steps. The only way to overcome the recent obstacles is by lifting the impediments to freedom of speech and press freedom. Journalists should be able to perform their profession as journalists, and unionization should be provided.

We, the media organizations undersigned, will be engaged in addressing these problems:

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Basin Enstitusu Dernegi, IPI National Committee
Press Council
Press Senate
Contemporary Journalists Association (CGD)
G9 Group (Journalists' Platform, Ankara)
Association of Communication Research (ILAD)
Media Communication and Postal Employees Union (KESK Haber-Sen)
Journalists' Union of Turkey
Journalists' Association of Turkey

Media Owners Association and Alumni Association of Marmara Communication attended as monitors to the assembly.

Updates alert on the prime minister's comments against the media:

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