Journalist Cigdem Toker, in Berlin, in 2018. She was targeted for having declared, during the election night, that “democracy is not limited to the ballot boxes”. OMER MESSINGER / EPA/MAXPPP
The noose is still tightening on the Turkish media. Barely three days after the victory, in the second round, of outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Superior Council of Radio-Television of Turkey (RTUK) opened, on Wednesday May 31, an investigation into several independent television channels and critics of the power in place.
Responsible for monitoring the audiovisual content broadcast by the channels, the RTUK, through its president, Ebubekir Sahin, announced that it had launched this procedure because of the coverage of the elections, “following numerous complaints from viewers”. Its press release states: “At the time of the counting of the ballot boxes and the announcement of the results, the channels Halk TV, Tele-1, KRT, TV5, Flash Haber and SZC TV broadcast speeches humiliating the public, swarming with insults and attacks, thus attempting to humiliate our beloved nation. »
Main target of the supervisory authority, Cigdem Toker, one of the Fox TV journalists, mentioned by name in the press release, is accused of not “respecting the national will, democracy, election results”. The object of such wrath? A sentence pronounced during the election night, on May 28, on the set of the chain and in which this former editor of the nationalist opposition daily Sözcü, renowned for her expertise and her seriousness, said: “Democracy is not limited at the ballot box alone. »
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In her response published on the T24 news site, the journalist recalls that twenty-five years ago, when he was mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan had himself stressed that in Turkey “democracy is gradually being transformed into an electoral method”. And to add that Devlet Bahçeli, the ultranationalist leader of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), the president’s ally, had also said: “Democracy is not just about the ballot box. It’s true. »
“The extinction of recalcitrant media”
Other reactions marked the day. Within the body itself, Ilhan Tasçi, representative of the Republican People’s Party (CHP, opposition) in the Council, criticized the haste with which the procedure was launched. “Making such an announcement even before the Supreme Council [organe décisionnel du RTUK] meeting is a usurpation of power. It is obvious that you have already made your decision! So also take the trouble to declare the sentences, ”he lashed out.
“It seems that dark days for journalism in Turkey are coming,” worries Erol Onderoglu, representative of Reporters Without Borders, reached by telephone. We fear that this investigation is the harbinger of a bolder crackdown, especially after the re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his diplomatic recognition, despite an unfair electoral campaign. It demonstrates that this campaign of repression is not limited to elections, but targets the extinction of recalcitrant media in the country. »
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