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Turkish ruling party denies dissident journalists access to party congress

(BIANET/IFEX) - The incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) denied accreditation to the dailies Cumhuriyet, Sözcü, Birgün, Evrensel, Aydinlik, Özgür Gündem and Yeniçag to attend their fourth party congress on 30 September 2012. The move drew sharp criticism from many quarters, including journalists' associations and Kadri Gürsel, the head of the International Press Institute's (IPI) Turkish National Committee and a columnist for the daily Milliyet.

"The government is preventing employees of newspapers whose publication policies they dislike from performing their professional [duties]. They are not showing any regard for the people's right to be informed. As the Turkish Journalists Society (TGC), we are expecting this error to be rectified," the TGC said in a statement.

The Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) and the Federation of Journalists of Turkey (TGS) also issued statements that criticized the move, while the Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) cautioned that the AKP's decision could herald a new era of repression.

"The practice of accreditation represents an obstacle to the 'people's right to be informed' that has been guaranteed by the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such practices constitute an unacceptable approach that does not conform to a democratic culture," the TGS said.

"The congress of the ruling party that has been governing Turkey for the past 10 years constitutes newsworthy material. This party's principal duty is to enable the press to follow this [event] without any discrimination. The AKP in power has now assumed a stance of ideological and political ostracization similar to what the General Staff once did," said Gürsel.

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