On 30 September, the licenses of twenty TV and radio stations were canceled in Turkey, including IMC TV, Hayatın Sesi, Azadi TV, Jiyan TV, Van TV, TV 10, Denge TV and Zarok TV, on the accusation of “terrorist propaganda”. ARTICLE 19 condemns the closures of these outlets, and calls for them to be immediately re-instated.
The closure order was issued under powers granted by state of emergency decrees issued in July, which empower higher levels of the government administration to shut down any media organisation. The state of emergency was invoked in response to the failed coup attempt of 15 July.
Türksat, the Turkish national satellite operator, had already halted the broadcasting of several of the channels on 28 September, without explanation, allegedly after receiving an order from the Prime Minister’s Office. The websites of the outlets have also reportedly been blocked in Turkey.
An international delegation of media freedom organisations visited the offices of IMC-TV and Hayatin Sesi, during a visit coordinated by ARTICLE 19. Both channels cover issues representing minority views, while other channels closed are reportedly children’s channels showing cartoons in the Kurdish language. The closures further confirm that emergency measures are being used for purposes other than those which were the basis of the declared state of emergency, reinforcing concerns that the state of emergency is being used to silence alternative and minority viewpoints.
On 29 September President Erdogan gave a speech in which he stated that he planned to extend the state of emergency beyond the initial three month period, stating that it could take “up to a year” to eradicate the threat from Gülen movement and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Since the announcement of the state of emergency on 21 July, over 100 media outlets have been closed and at least 93 journalists have been arrested.
ARTICLE 19 calls on Turkey to:
- Immediately reinstate the licenses of all media outlets closed during the state of emergency.
- Rescind the state of emergency, which should only be extended based on credible evidence that the domestic situation still constitutes a public emergency that threatens the life of the nation.
- In the unlikely event that Turkey is able to demonstrate the need for extraordinary emergency measures, Turkey must revoke provisions enabling human rights violations and reduce the scope for their arbitrary application.