Trustees dismiss 71 journalists after unlawful Ipek Media Group seizure

Seventy-one journalists were dismissed early Tuesday from the ipek Media Group, which was unlawfully seized in a government-led police operation in late October with the assignment of a number of trustees to the organization, a move drawing the ire of the dismissed journalists and civil society groups.
Millet daily news desk editor Bandulent Ceyhan, who is also among the journalists fired, along with reporter Kamil Maman, who was assaulted by the police and then detained during the police raid on the groupand’s headquarters, announced on Tuesday morning that they were forced to go on compulsory leave for several days after the trustees were assigned but are now not allowed to enter the media groupand’s building.
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In a live Periscope broadcast, Ceyhan said private security guards blocked journalists returning from leave and a number of other journalists from entering the headquarters. The security guards allegedly work on behalf of Ethem Sancak, the owner of the pro-government Star Media Group.
Maman also posted consecutive tweets announcing that the trustees had prepared a list of those andquotto be sackedandquot and that 58 people are on that list. The dismissal orders for Ankara bureau officers were issued in the evening hours. Thirteen journalists and a tea maker working in the Ankara bureau of the ipek Media Group were dismissed, raising the number of sacked journalists to 71.
andquotFifty-eight journalists working for Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk were dismissed today by order of the trustees. Did someone say there would not be revenge?andquot Maman wrote in one of his tweets.
In another tweet Maman stressed that an undated document has been presented to the journalists to sign showing that they have been fired.
Following the government-led decision to seize Koza ipek Holding and appoint partisan trustees to take over the management of its companies on Oct. 27, police raided the ipek Media Groupand’s headquarters in Istanbul on Oct. 28 and took the Kanaltandurk and Bugandun TV channels and the Kanaltandurk radio station off the air. The group also owns the Bugandun and Millet dailies.
Despite the fact that the trustees had no authority to fire any worker, the editors-in-chief and general managers of the TV channels were told they were sacked. Furthermore, the assignment of the trustees has not been published in the Turkish Trade Registry Gazette, making the takeover decision null and void. Some of the decisions to fire staff were made on a public holiday, an act which is against the law.
Evaluating the manner by which the journalists were fired by the trustees on Tuesday, Erhan Baiyurt, who is still legally the editor-in-chief of Bugandun but who the trustees dismissed immediately after the takeover, stressed that the events have been marred by unlawfulness from beginning to end.
andquotThe mass firing of the journalists confirms that the trustees have no intention of turning the media group into a more profitable company but aim to damage its profitability. With these firings, the countryand’s experienced journalists were blocked from doing their jobs,andquot Baiyurt noted.
Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman about the process to unlawfully cancel his and his colleaguesand’ work contracts, Ceyhan said his name was taken off of the dailyand’s masthead two days after the unlawful seizure on Oct. 29 and he was told that he has been dismissed despite the fact that the trustees have no authority to do that, let alone on a public holiday.
and”The trustees later realized that they had made an unlawful decision by dismissing the journalists on a public holiday, so they turned the dismissals into four-day compulsory leave. On Tuesday, I returned from leave to continue work at the daily at around 10 a.m. but I was stopped at the door of the building by several private security guards and police officers. They told me that my name is on the list of andlsquothose firedand’,and” Ceyhan noted.
and”I was not allowed to enter the building. They later took me, along with my colleagues, to the security personnel office, where an employee from the human resources department was waiting for us. This person showed us a document stating that I had been fired. Yahya ieker, who has been designated as the dailyand’s new editor-in-chief, had signed the document. I told the person that I donand’t know the man who signed the document declaring I had been dismissed. I later signed it, adding a note stating that the total process of being dismissed is unlawful and that I will pursue my rights in court. After that, I, accompanied by security personnel, packed my belongings and left the building,andquot Ceyhan said.
Bugandun News Editor Bilal iahin, who was also told by the same private security guards that he had been fired early Tuesday, told Todayand’s Zaman that he, like many of his colleagues, was also barred from entering the dailyand’s headquarters after being informed of his dismissal.
andquotI was told by a person from human resources that Oiuzhan Manduezzino, who the trustees assigned to serve as the editorial coordinator of Bugandun, made the decision to dismiss me. However, he has no such authority. I, together with my colleagues, added notes to each document stating we were fired, that the decision is unlawful and that all the fired journalists will pursue their rights by filing lawsuits. We were not even allowed to walk up to the news center and our offices alone security personnel had to accompany us,andquot iahin told Todayand’s Zaman.
h2Hinting at Dec. 17 graft scandal, reporter carries belongings in shoe boxes h2 Reporter Cihan Acar, who was also among the fired journalists, was seen carrying his personal belongings in shoe boxes. During the massive corruption scandal that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, police briefly detained Halkbank General Manager Sanduleyman Aslan after finding over $4.5 million hidden in shoe boxes during a raid on his home.
Speaking to journalists while carrying his personal belongings, Acar said all of his belongings fit in only two shoe boxes.
Bugandun Executive News Editor Erkan Acar also told the journalists that the Bugandun daily had created a space at which journalists from various ideologies could come and work together, adding: andquotSuch a nice picture, a source of pride for the Turkish press, was destroyed [by the government]. This saddens me.andquot
The following are some of the journalists who the trustees fired: Adem andOzganduandc, Adem Yavuz Aslan, Bekir Koandc, Bilal iahin, Bandulent Ceyhan, Cuma Ulus, Deier andOzergin, Erhan Baiyurt, Erkan Acar, Erkan Akkui, GandungandOr Ergandun, Hamit Karali, Hilal Dereli, Handuseyin Kelei, irfan Galip Dumlu, Kamil Maman, Mehmet Yilmaz, Melik Duvakli, Sedat Gandulmen, Tarik Toros, Ufuk KandOroilu, Ufuk ianli, Volkan Beandcar and Zafer andOzcan.
A week after the takeover, Bugandunand’s and Milletand’s circulation suffered a dramatic decline. Bugandunand’s weekly circulation average fell from nearly 104,000 copies sold to 64,000, the Zaman daily and several other media outlets reported on Tuesday.
When Hasan andOlandcer, one of the trustees, took over the management of Bugandun and Millet following the police raid, he reprimanded the journalists, accusing them of preparing an andquotawful paperandquot by running the headline andquotSeizure with Trusteeandquot and fired several journalists who had declared that they agree with the headline.
Main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Gandursel Tekin was among those who joined the criticism of the dismissal of the 58 journalists. andquotThe government will surely have to pay damages for these unlawful firings and the 78 million Turkish citizen will pay the price for this,andquot Tekin said.
The Press Council strongly criticized the dismissals on Tuesday. Issuing a written statement, the council said the government yet again targeted the journalists just two days after the Nov. 1 general election.
Meanwhile, as part of government pressure on journalists, TV presenter andOzge Uzun was fired from the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) on Monday.

SOURCE: TODAY”S ZAMAN

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