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ISTANBUL report from Hurriyet Daily News.  Journalists marched with the slogan ‘stand up for journalism’ on World Press Freedom Day, celebrated worldwide on May 3.   A group of journalists and representatives of press unions marched from Istanbul¹s Tünel to the Galatasaray high school on May 3, while chanting slogans to stand up journalism in the country.

“We say freedom is the oxygen of journalism, and free journalism is the assurance of democracy. We emphasize that our struggle for freedom of the press is given not only for one profession, but also for the struggle of every citizen who misses a free and democratic Turkey,” read a statement, entitled ‘Freedom is the Oxygen of Journalism,

‘Journalism is the Assurance of Democracy,’ which was read out loud before the march. “As such, we call on everyone to stand up for journalism.”   Since 1993, when the United Nations had declared May 3 as ‘World Press Freedom Day,’ the statement, signed by various unions, stated that journalists in Turkey have had nothing to ‘celebrate,’ even for one year.

Republican People¹s Party (CHP) deputy Gürsel Tekin also attended the march.

Defining the current situation of the press in Turkey, the statement reiterated that 21 journalists were serving sentences in prison, while thousands of lawsuits have been opened against hundreds of others.   “We have a government that is practically making fun of us by saying that we have the freest press in the world,” read the statement, adding that Turkey ranked 154th globally in terms of press freedom.

Stating that the Anti-Terrorism Law was being used for years to terrorize and suppress writers and illustrators, journalists said they were asked to do their query-based profession without asking any questions or only asking the ones the government wishes to hear.   “Those who ask questions that annoy the government are immediately subjected to attacks from the street and social media,” the statement read.

Criticizing the structure of media ownership in the country, with its influential holders that are known to have investments in various sectors, the statement stated that journalists were “experiencing an unemployment nightmare.”

“Those who manage to retain their jobs are expected to be grateful for being allowed to work under conditions of slavery without a union and for starvation wages that have not been raised in years,”  it said.   Pointing out at a new law which does not require an immediate court order to ban websites, it said the Internet, which is globally regarded as a harbinger of freedom, has turned into a place of prohibition.