In order to mark May 3, World Press Freedom Day, declared by the United Nations in December 1993, a Swedish-based human rights advocacy group, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), took out a large advertisement in The New York Times US edition listing the full names of 191 journalists who are currently behind bars in Turkey.
The ad headline reads, “Time to Stop Erdoğan!” in reference to the country’s thuggish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose government has jailed more journalists than the rest of the world’s governments combined. The ad, which states, “Hundreds of media outlets shut down. Thousands of journalists dismissed” in Turkey, also listed the names of 34 foreign journalists who were targeted by the Turkish government.
According to the most recently updated figures maintained by SCF, in addition to the 191 journalists and media workers currently in Turkish prisons, 167 others who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey face detention warrants. In other words, if the Erdoğan government manages to apprehend those under warrant, the total number would climb to 358. Most of them sought asylum in other countries following a massive and unprecedented crackdown on press freedom in Turkey.
“It is not just the large number we wanted to highlight with The New York Times ad. We thought it would be best to acknowledge them with their names and their work as journalists,” Levent Kenez, general secretary of SCF, said.
“We are not in the cherry-picking business, unlike some advocacy groups appear to be doing by simply focusing on prominent names,” he added.
Erdoğan has specifically targeted investigative journalists who have written extensively on his government’s corruption and its aiding and abetting of jihadist groups in Syria, Libya and other places.NYT2