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The EFJ-IFJ have launched a new project called Organising Turkey’s human rights based journalism fit for the digital age which is financially supported by the European Union. Based on the network and the strength of their affiliates, the federations are aiming to improve working conditions, to provide solidarity and to train journalists in Turkey through five specific work packages covering various aspects of the media environment.

The objective of the project is to promote and protect fundamental rights through enhancing the role of journalist in promoting democracy and good governance and the public’s right to access information.

The project was launched during a joint solidarity recent visit to Cumhuriyet journalists in Istanbul by representatives from the IFJ and EFJ led by IFJ Assistant General Secretary Oliver Money-Kryie. The solidarity delegation included representatives from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and their affiliates Türkiye Gazeteciler Cemiyeti (TGC), Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (TGS) and DISK Basin İş who met with Cumhuriyet journalists Murat Sabuncu (editor in chief of Cumhuriyet), Orhan Erinç, Bülent Özdogan, Aykut Küçükkaya and Faruk Eren.

At the meeting, Oliver said that: “Cumhuriyet, as one of the most important daily newspaper in Turkey, is playing a great inspirational role for all journalists in the world and by putting your own life at risk to tell the truth in the country, you attract more respect and become an example for many of our colleagues and we would like to thank you for that.”

Thanking all the organisations for their support the former imprisoned journalists and editor Murat Sabuncu said: “we will be more happy when all the others will be released. Every single support or solidarity message received in jail was the source of our hope for a better future. The supports given to jailed journalists by TGS, DISK-Basın İş and TGC were therefore very important and relevant. In jail, I’ve understood even more the importance of being organised in a workplace. I was kept in solitary confinement in jail for a year and I can’t express how happy I was to meet with TGC representatives in jail. It’s mostly thanks to your supports that I was able to leave the prison in a healthy situation. There are many groups willing to support the development of democracy through solidarity networks. We love this country and we believe in its future, we want this future to be democratic and progressive”, he concluded.

TGC President Turgay Olcayto emphasised “the importance of international solidarity for Turkey. We thank you for following all the cases and monitoring the press trials. One of the most important issues now is the state of emergency that should be lifted immediately” he said.

President of the Cumhuriyet Foundation Orhan Ernic added that: “…solidarity is indeed very important for the press. I remember when in 1971 I was at that time the President of the journalists union (TGS), the IFJ’s Annual Meeting was scheduled in Istanbul, but some of the delegates were against because the meeting shouldn’t take place in a country without democracy. We managed to convince them that it will be very important to hold the meeting in Turkey to support the development of democracy in the country and it was agreed.”

During the day the EFJ-IFJ also took part in a TGS protest in support of one of its members and a union representative at the newspaper, who was recently sacked by the Cumhuriyet management without explanation. Many media workers at the newspaper fear that the management will announce a massive redundancy plan to sack 70 employees.

The situation in Turkey will be discussed at the National Union of Journalists 2018 delegate meeting to be held at Southport,  on 20 – 22 April.

Source EFJ web site.