Turkey’s press history is regrettably woven with pain. Since the formation of the press, the state and its enablers have sought to control and intimidate journalists.
This country’s press history is full of journalists that have been killed or incarcerated, as well as media organs that have been closed or banned. This said, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that the press has never experienced as much pressure as it has now.
In 2016 alone, the numbers of journalists that were thrown in jail, detained or prosecuted – together with the number of closed outlets – made for distressing reading. Not surprisingly, Turkey tumbles further down the press freedom index with every passing year. DİSK Basın-İş publishes monthly reports in Turkish and English regarding the pressures experienced by journalists. When one of our union’s administrators first suggested publishing these reports as an almanac at the end of 2016, I initially opposed the measure. But after delving in, I came to realize that there were violations of freedom of the press almost every day. Amid all the commotion, we hadn’t realized the scale of the horror we were experiencing –we hadn’t seen the forest for the trees. But here is the balance sheet, and the results are terrifying!
We had hoped to publish the almanac in time for the anniversary of Uğur Mumcu’s murder on 24 January, but the never-ending parade to the courthouse delayed proceedings. Everything from the report’s content, to the translation, page design and redaction was completed by a team of volunteers (naturally, for reasons of which readers will only be too aware, we are not at liberty to thank them by name).
At the conclusion of the almanac, we were confronted by another issue: cost. It might seem odd that a union that organizes among print shop workers failed to publish its report in physical form, but in the end, we seek to organize workers, not bosses. Some of the organizations we applied to for publishing costs turned us down, while we, as a revolutionary union, had to politely decline other offers. The solution was to be found in the internet age: In the interests of facilitating access to colleagues, academics and the public, we’re releasing the almanac online.
If you wish to read it on paper, you’ll have to employ your own printer. There is a lot of information here; the entries are compiled from the cases we followed (or were prosecuted in), our colleagues or directly from the media. Still, there are probably some things left out, as the people that prepared the almanac are all active in the struggle for press freedom and democracy. Amid all the flurry of news, they sometimes forget to even record their own problems.
And may we express our special gratitude to our journalistic and academic colleagues that took time out to contribute to this almanac.
And a promise from DİSK: If we’re still on the outside, the 2017 almanac will be out by January!
Wishing all a chance to live freely in a truly democratic country…