France 24: Quake restrictions muzzle Turkish media ahead of elections

France 24: Quake restrictions muzzle Turkish media ahead of elections
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France’s state-owned news channel raises concerns that the state of emergency in Turkey’s southeast represses press freedom, and that the problems will only increase as the May 14 elections approach.

The news channel France 24 reports that journalists in Turkey’s disaster-struck southeast are facing repression.

In the ten provinces hit by the earthquake, over 50,000 people have died, and millions have been internally displaced.

Turkish President Erdogan’s government had passed a three-month long state of emergency in the earthquake region, ostensibly so that survivors could be helped as quickly as possible.

However, many analysts write that the state of emergency was implemented to ensure that the Erdogan regime can maintain a strong hold over basic freedoms in the region as the most critical election in Turkey’s recent history approaches.

Speaking to AFP News Agency, executive director of the International Press Institute Frane Maroevic said, “In Turkey, freedom of expression over the years had gotten worse and the state of emergency just created yet another layer on the complications for journalists to do their job."

Even before the state of emergency was declared in the area, Turkey ranked low in press freedom, with over 90% of its media under government control and countless journalists imprisoned.

Maroevic emphasizes that journalists want to be in the region even after a month has passed since the disaster because “they believe that it is important to tell the stories of the people who survived and still struggling to live there.”

Under the provisions of the state of emergency, journalists need special accreditation to report in the area. Maroevic says, "It is clear that authorities are preventing (journalists) from reporting independently from the ground” and that the government will increase the “pressure on journalists as the elections approach.”