EU faces pressure to speak out against Turkey's media restrictions

ANKARA, Turkey -- The European Union is facing increasing pressure to speak out against the erosion of media freedom in Turkey following the takeover of the country's largest-circulation newspaper, but few expect it to take a bold stance toward Ankara while trying to assure its help in dealing with the migration crisis.

See Full Article

Police used tear gas and water cannons for a second day running on Saturday to disperse hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the headquarters of Zaman newspaper -- now surrounded by police fences. Law enforcement officers stormed the building on Friday to enforce the court-ordered seizure of the publication, which is linked to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top foe, U.S.-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The protesters chanted "free press cannot be silenced" and "Zaman cannot be silenced" as riot police used shields and fired tear gas to push back the crowd, sending demonstrators running into side streets for protection.

Some were seen rubbing their faces with pieces of lemon to mitigate the effects of the tear gas, the private Dogan news agency reported. A number of protesters were injured.

The Istanbul court's appointment of trustees to manage Zaman and its sister outlets further reduced the number of opposition media organizations in Turkey, which is dominated by pro-government news outlets. It raised alarm bells over the deterioration of rights conditions in the NATO member nation, which also aspires for EU membership, just days before a March 7 meeting, in which EU leaders will try to convince Turkey to do more to curtail the flow of migrants travelling to Europe.

"The EU countries are preoccupied with their migration crisis, they are no longer concerned by rights violations in Turkey," said Semih Idiz, columnist for the opposition Cumhuriyet and independent Daily Hurriyet newspapers. "They'll say a few things as a matter of form, but they know they are dependent on Turkey."

The Saturday edition of the English-language Today's Zaman, published before the forced takeover, printed its entire front page in black with the headline: "Shameful day for free press in Turkey."

Zaman's seizure was part of an intensified crackdown on Gulen's movement, which the government claims is attempting to topple it. Authorities accuse the movement's followers of infiltrating police and the judiciary and of orchestrating corruption allegations in 2013 that implicated Erdogan's inner circle, as part of their alleged bid to bring down the government.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, was once Erdogan's ally. Over the past years, however, the government has purged thousands of civil servants allegedly linked to the movement and seized businesses affiliated to it. The movement has also been branded a terror organization although it is not known to have carried out any acts of violence.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking to Turkish reporters during a visit to Iran, insisted that the appointment of trustee managers was a legal decision, not a political one and denied any government involvement in the move.

"We did not interfere ... nor would be interfere" Davutoglu said, adding that he was concerned that the issue would infringe on the "positive agenda" of Monday's Turkey-EU summit.

Rights groups accuse EU nations of keeping mute about deteriorating freedoms and human rights abuses in Turkey -- including the large civilian death toll during military operations against Kurdish militants -- because of the country's crucial role in curtailing the flow of migrants to Europe.

"The European Union and the United States, as Turkey's partners and allies, should not trade Turkey's support on migration and Syria for silence over the dismantling of democratic institutions," said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice-president of the U.S.-based watchdog, Freedom House, following Zaman's take-over.

The European Federation of Journalists said: "The European Union cannot remain silent to the political seizure of Zaman newspaper, Today's Zaman daily and Cihan news agency."

But the EU commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said on Twitter that he was "extremely worried" by the development.

"Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to respect freedom of the media," Hahn said.

European Parliament President Martin Schultz said he intends to raise the issue with Davutoglu in Brussels.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Michigan House changes Nassar bills after legal settlement

    World News CTV News
    LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan House on Tuesday scaled back legislation inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal, dropping certain measures addressed by last week's $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and hundreds of Nassar's victims and revising the time limits that survivors of childhood abuse would have to sue. Source
  • North Korean media return to angry tone as summit looms

    World News CBC News
    North Korean media stepped up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and its joint military exercises with the United States, warning Tuesday that a budding detente could be in danger. State media unleashed three strongly worded commentaries slamming Seoul and Washington for the manoeuvres and demanding Seoul take action against defectors it claimed were sending anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border. Source
  • Court boots 30-year-old son from parents' house

    World News CBC News
    An upstate New York judge Tuesday ordered a 30-year-old man to move out of his parents' house after they went to court to have him ejected. Michael Rotondo told the judge he knows his parents want him out of the split-level ranch they share. Source
  • Pilots push for shorter flight times as government finalizes new safety regulations

    Canada News CBC News
    When two Air Canada pilots mistook a San Francisco taxiway for a runway and almost crashed their plane into four fully-fuelled airliners awaiting takeoff last summer, they told investigators they were fatigued at the time. Being tired behind the controls of an aircraft is the number one safety concern pilots say they face on the job. Source
  • Sweden hands out brochure in case of 'crisis or war'

    World News CBC News
    Sweden is distributing an updated version of a Cold War-era civil emergency advice booklet to some 4.8 million households about what to do in the event of a crisis, including war. The 20-page brochure titled If Crisis or War Comes is about getting the country "better prepared" if public services have been debilitated by accidents, severe weather, IT attacks or "in the worst-case scenario, war," the Civil Contingencies Agency said. Source
  • Survivors of Quebec mass shootings plead for ban on assault weapons

    Canada News CBC News
    The president of the Quebec City mosque where six men were fatally shot in January 2017 travelled to Ottawa Tuesday to plead with the government to impose an outright ban on all semi-automatic and military-style weapons in Canada. Boufeldja Benabdallah appeared before the standing committee on public safety and national security, which is now reviewing C-71, a bill to amend the federal Firearms Act. Source
  • No Democrats allowed: Republicans invited to see documents on U.S. election probe

    World News CBC News
    Two Republican lawmakers, and no Democrats, are expected to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday to review classified information relating to U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion the FBI might have used an informant to gather information on his 2016 election campaign, the White House says. Source
  • Take the lid off the 'carbon tax cover-up,' Poilievre urges Liberals

    Canada News CBC News
    If the federal Liberal government truly believed in carbon taxing, it would come clean on the potential cost to Canadians, Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre charged Tuesday in a sneak preview of the protracted partisan barrage Finance Minister BIll Morneau was likely to face later in the day. Source
  • Commemorative coin of Trump and Kim Jong-un released as North Korea summit uncertain

    World News CBC News
    As U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged there is a "very substantial chance" that his highly publicized summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not go ahead as planned on June 12, a U.S. military agency has already unveiled a coin commemorating the "peace talks. Source
  • Canadian offshoot of U.S. libertarian campus group says it provides needed counterpoint to liberal bias

    Canada News CBC News
    Some U.S. academics are warning their Canadian counterparts to be wary of a U.S. libertarian group that has recently set up a chapter on the campus of Simon Fraser University, but its proponents say it provides a much-needed counterpoint to the increasingly liberal bias of academia. Source