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Turkey in Further Media Crackdown as EU Courts Ankara Over Migrants

© AFP 2023 / Ozan KoseA man holds up a placard as people demonstrate in support of Turkish daily newspaper Zaman in front the headquarters in Istanbul on March 4, 2016.
A man holds up a placard as people demonstrate in support of Turkish daily newspaper Zaman in front the headquarters in Istanbul on March 4, 2016. - Sputnik International
These have been further crackdowns on independent and foreign media in Turkey with a Dutch journalist being detained and complaints to a German orchestra and a Swedish TV channel over two projects to commemorate Ottoman-era genocides.

The latest events are certain to put pressure on EU leaders of the deal struck with Turkey to return "irregular migrants" from Greece to Turkey on a one-for-one basis for Syrian refugees being sent from Turkey to the EU. Critics of the deal say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's record on human rights and media freedoms make the deal hypocritical on the part of EU leaders.

The latest incidents involve Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist of Turkish origin, who was arrested while on holiday in Turkey on Saturday (April 23) after writing in her column that Erdogan's attacks on free speech was equivalent to Dutch World War 2 Nazi Party "NSB practices," calling Erdogan a "megalomaniac dictator."

German media reported that the European Commission was put under pressure by Turkey to withdraw funding for a performance by the Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra to mark the 101st anniversary of the Ottoman Empire's slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians, is to contain sung and spoken texts that describe the killings as genocide, which Turkey denies.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the TV4 broadcaster said the Turkish embassy to had asked it to "reconsider" showing a documentary film, Seyfo 1915, on the Ottoman genocide of up to 300,000 Assyrians during World War 1.

Media Clampdown

The latest incidents come on the back of a spat between Germany and Turkey over satirist Jan Boehmermann, who broadcast a poem on ZDF television sitting in front of a portrait of Erdogan, reading out a poem that accusing the Turkish president of "repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians while watching child porn," among other things. Erdogan has demanded that Boehmermann be prosecuted, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed.

The Association of European Journalists joined other groups in writing to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council last month calling for the EU to exert maximum pressure on Turkey to reverse its extraordinary crackdown on the media.

A combination of pictures shows German Chancellor Merkel and German comedian Boehmermann. - Sputnik International
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In the letter, they said: "In the past six months, we have recorded 50 incidents in clear breach of international standards with regards to media freedom and pluralism in the country. These violations include the recent government takeovers of the Feza media group and the Koza İpek Group; the prosecution and jailing of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül on politically motivated charges of terrorism, espionage and revealing classified information; the police raids of Bugün TV; the assault of journalist Ahmet Hakan; and the blocking of Dicle News Agency's website."

The chief editor of Sputnik News Agency's Turkish bureau, Tural Kerimov, was denied entry to Turkey, stripped of his accreditation and residence permit in the country. Kerimov's entry ban comes a week after Turkish authorities shut the agency's Turkish-language website, citing "administrative measures."

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