General Staff’s notorious accreditation ban inherited by AK Party

Some media outlets and journalists that are critical of the government or President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan are currently subjected to an accreditation ban and barred from covering events attended by any government official or ErdoIan. These journalists say today’s ban is worse than the controversial ban implemented by the General Staff in the days of the Feb.

28, 1997 military coup, and they complain about not being given a clear explanation as to why they have been made “unwe

Some media outlets and journalists that are critical of the government or President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan are currently subjected to an accreditation ban and barred from covering events attended by any government official or ErdoIan. These journalists say today’s ban is worse than the controversial ban implemented by the General Staff in the days of the Feb.

28, 1997 military coup, and they complain about not being given a clear explanation as to why they have been made unwelcome journalists.

Until 2012, the General Staff imposed a media accreditation ban on a number of TV stations and newspapers, including Today’s Zaman and Zaman, the highest circulation newspapers in English and Turkish in the country, after the Feb.

28 military intervention, known as the post-modern coup.

The coup resulted in the toppling of the coalition government led by the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP) and introduced a wide range of bans on the media and social life in the country.

The discriminatory accreditation practice of the General Staff was the subject of strong criticism from not only its victims but also from the European Union, as it was contrary to the principles of the rule of law and freedom of the press.

Although the country has gotten rid of the General Staff’s accreditation practice, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has resorted to the same controversial practice since a major corruption probe became public on Dec.

17, 2013, in which senior government members were implicated.

President ErdoIan, who was the prime minister at the time, launched a battle against the faith-based Guumllen (or Hizmet) movement, which it held responsible for the probe and accused of establishing a parallel structure in the state.

Hence, Guumllen-inspired media outlets such as Zaman, Today’s Zaman, the Buguumln dailies, Cihan News Agency and Samanyolu TV, in addition to other critical media outlets, have become the victims of the accreditation ban. The ban was first installed by ErdoIan’s office and was later expanded to include all programs attended by government officials.

There are claims that ErdoIan and the AK Party government aim to avoid being asked tough questions by critical journalists on a range of controversial issues by preventing these journalists from covering events they attend. Before the accreditation ban, there were some instances when journalists cornered ErdoIan or other government officials at news conferences with questions on corruption or ErdoIan’s direct meddling in media In most cases, ErdoIan rebuked those journalists and also failed to give them accurate answers.

Today’s accreditation ban faced by some journalists means that they are even prevented from covering events that take place in a public area The latest example of this occurred during the 100th anniversary of the Ccedilanakkale naval victory in Ccedilanakkale province last week, which was marked with various commemorative activities.

Journalists from Zaman and Cihan were barred from the events on the grounds that a quota had been implemented on the number of journalists allowed to attend in order to ease coordination of the ceremonies.

Earlier this month, Today’s Zaman’s Parliament bureau chief Ali Aslan KIlIccedil had his card that enables him to enter Parliament canceled.

KIlIccedil’s card was canceled after AK Party DiyarbakIr deputy Cuma Iccedilten filed a complaint against KIlIccedil for insulting him with the Press Relations Board of Parliament.

The board decided to cancel KIlIccedil’s card without hearing his defense.

KIlIccedil said just as Turkey is in many ways going through days worse than those of the Feb.

28 coup, today’s accreditation ban is also worse than the General Staff’s accreditation ban.

According to KIlIccedil, the main reason for today’s accreditation ban is because the government is afraid of the tough questions asked by critical journalists.

Talking about the unjust cancelation of his card in Parliament, he said that as a journalist of 29 years who has had a press card for 19 years and been a member of the Parliament Correspondents’ Association for more than 20 years, the cancelation of his card is an obvious example of wild accreditation ban practice.

Cihan News Agency’s Prime Ministry correspondent Ibrahim VarlIk, who is also a victim of the accreditation ban, has complained that he has not been provided with any explanation as to why he is barred from covering the events attended by the prime minister

The thing that hurts me most is that I could not ask the prime minister or Deputy Prime Minister Buumllent ArInccedil for an explanation on the accreditation ban.

And none of the journalists who are accredited has asked why some of their colleagues are being subjected to an accreditation ban, he lamented.

VarlIk said no government official is telling them the exact reason for the ban because they are also aware of the fact that they are arbitrarily implementing this ban, which has nothing to do with laws and freedom of press.

Zaman photojournalist Mahmut Burak Buumlrkuumlk, who was recently stopped by police at Istanbul Atatuumlrk Airport, from where he was going to travel to Belgium to cover the BeIiktaI-Brugge match, said he was not allowed to fly to Belgium on the grounds that he should have provided the police with some papers. However, the police did not ask those papers from other photojournalists.

According to Buumlrkuumlk, the most saddening thing is that some are very eager to implement the accreditation ban in order to kowtow to the government.

Samanyolu TV Prime Ministry correspondent Sinan Girgin also complained about failing to get an explanation from government officials about the widely practiced accreditation ban.

He said they try to legitimize the ban only by saying that it is due to the current circumstances in the country.

Girgin said that while the General Staff resorted to the accreditation ban due to religious fundamentalism paranoia, the AK Party government is resorting to it today due to parallel structurequot paranoia

According to the Buguumln daily’s Prime Ministry correspondent Hasan Bozkurt, the accreditation ban implemented by the government today is a clear sign of its failure to internalize democratic principles.

The ban put in place by the AK Party government is embarrassing and pitiful, said Zaman daily’s Prime Ministry correspondent Ahmet Doumlnmez. He said the last time he was allowed to cover a government event was on Nov.

3, 2014, and he has been barred from government events since then. The journalist said he was even not allowed to cover a visit by Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu visit to a cemevi, the Alevi house of worship, while in Tunceli province last year

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN