In light of the July 15th coup attempt in Turkey and the ailing state of freedom of expression in the country thereafter, noted journalist and human rights activist of Turkish origin, Umit Ozturk delivered a talk in Brighton, UK on July 27th.
During his talk titled Turkey: The biggest prison for journalists in the world, organised by the National Union of Journalists, Brighton and Middlesex branch, Mr. Ozturk cited appalling details of his torture to elicit the turf of war between the establishment and the press.
Mr. Ozturk said: “I was brutally tortured for advocating freedom of expression through a column where I criticised an anti-terror law that led to human rights abuse, and later survived two assassination attempts before moving to the United Kingdom in 1992.”
Expressing his apprehensions on the conspiracy theory, that the failed coup attempt was an orchestrated one planned under the aegis of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mr. Ozturk noted that this argument cannot be ignored as there are chances of the coup being a manufactured one.
“Given President Erdogan’s lust for power, anything might be possible as the establishment is in a paranoid state now.
“The situation currently is too hot to handle and anybody who may attempt to explore will burn his fingers.”
While the talk was underway, the Mirror reported that as part of Turkey’s clampdown on dissent a further 130 media outlets has been shut down in a mass purge of the media.
The last few days has seen the arrest of tens of thousands of journalists, teachers, activists, judges and police personnel in President Erdogan’s escalating attempt to establish an authoritarian regime in the country.
Conferred with several media awards Mr. Ozturk is currently based in Brighton and is the founder and coordinator of the Brighton-based community support charity Euro-Mediterranean Resources Network.
Previously he had chaired Amnesty International’s international journalists’ network for 12 years and co-founded the UK chapter of Reporters Without Borders.
The event was attended by members of NUJ along with many young and experienced media professionals.
What do you think of the current situation for the media in Turkey? Have your say in the comments below.