Seventeen journalists killed by the earthquake
Faruk Bildirici, who regularly scrutinizes Turkish media and exposes the political pressures it is subjected to in his articles in Duvar, said that the government, just like the leader of the 1980 military coup in Turkey, has been trying to conceal the facts and stop all kinds of criticism after the earthquake on 6 February.
He wrote in his latest article:
"We observed the results of the authorities' calls 'to rely only on official statements' in the government media from the first moment on. What they started doing was delivering the message: 'The authority always does the best.' They did this through comparisons with the 1999 earthquake, presentation of rescue efforts, human stories, broadcasts on aid campaigns, a pornography of agony, the label 'Disaster of the Century,' and lots of remarks on fate and patience. They neither commented on the failure of the government to respond to an anticipated earthquake, nor reported on the delays and shortcomings in the organization of rescue and aid operations."
"So a lesson for a journalist should be not to rely only on official statements while continuing to monitor them. If one was to consider only those statements, the teams reached all destroyed buildings at the first instant following the earthquake and search and rescue operations have been carried out without any shortcoming!"
Bildirici noted that the rescue and aid operations began to improve after the third day thanks to many journalists' reports on the true situation.
He said that journalists who reported on their observations without censoring themselves have been subjected to pressures and to "accusations of provocation," and gave an account of an incident in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, when a reporter named Mehmet Gules was taken into custody and asked by the police: "What were you doing in an earthquake site? Did a man named M. Nuri Guzel say to you in an interview, 'AFA [Disaster and Emergency Management] is not present here, and neither is UMKE [National Medical Rescue Team]. Our people have been left alone.'"
Bildirici also announced that 17 journalists have been killed by the earthquake, and provided a list of their names.