Politicians condemn new commission’s arbitrary denial of press cards

The commission, which held its first meeting on Nov. 18-19, has used vague explanations like “denied on consideration” and “other” as reasons for not issuing press cards, while other journalists were said to have been denied the card due to missing documents in their applications.

The Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) told journalists who called and inquired about what “other” meant that only members of the Press Card Commission knew the details.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, CHP deputy and former Turkish Journalists Federation Chairman Sertel said journalists are not granted the right to obtain yellow press cards due to their political views and beliefs. “Those who denied yellow press cards to journalists who qualify are acting unlawfully and violating those journalists’ rights,” Sertel said.

Implying that the denial of yellow cards is an instruction coming from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, Sertel added: “We can’t talk about a commission. There’s only a general director who receives orders from a minister. From now on, no righteous decisions are to be expected from that commission. They’re acting on the demands of the ruling party.”

CHP deputy Yarkadas also talked to Today’s Zaman on Thursday, emphasizing that in no other country are press cards granted by the government but instead by independent organizations.

“Those who have been doing journalism for years and have been declared enemies of the state only for being critical of the government are arbitrarily denied the right [to obtain press cards]. This [treatment of select journalists] shows how the [AK Party] government regards journalism. The press commission controlled by the government says, ‘If you support us, we’ll approve you as a journalist, but if you criticize us, we won’t recognize you as one.’ We condemn this unacceptable situation. [The government] must turn back from this mistake immediately… Denial of the right to obtain press cards is an act that aims to prevent [journalists] from asking questions. The government wants a society and a media that neither ask questions nor inspect the government,” Yarkadas said.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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