Kerestecioğlu: Journalists in Turkey who are supposed to receive the Pulitzer Prize are in jail now

Our Parliamentary Group Deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu gave a speech at the PACE's joint debate titled Parliamentary scrutiny over corruption: parliamentary co-operation with the investigative media. Kerestecioğlu stated the following:

Mr/Ms President, dear colleagues,

First, I would like to thank reporter Ms Gülsün Bilgehan, for bringing this crucial topic before the Council.

The media plays a crucial role in providing citizens with information that enables them to stand up to and fight the corrupt. Governments, generals, corporations, municipalities in the whole world, but especially in antidemocratic countries like Turkey, hide things from public.

They may have been bribed, money may have been hijacked, international trade rules may have been violated, or the government may be lying to the public about Genetically Modified foods.

Authority owners can abuse their power. They can steal, they can break the law.These must be uncovered and exhibited. This is the work of the investigative journalists.

Society has the right to know things like this that are of interest to itself but hidden from it.

Investigative journalism enables the community to exercise this right.

We all know the Pulitzer Prize honoring excellence in journalism and the arts. Many of us have watched the movie "Citizen Kane”. Mr. Pulitzer turned a tiny newspaper he bought into the best-selling newspaper in the United States, while 'yellow journalism' under the leadership of Californian newspaper boss William Randolph Hearst spread throughout the United States. Mr. Pulitzer was one of the architects of the journalism’s mission to monitor the governments and keep them accountable.

However, journalists in Turkey and in many parts of the world who are supposed to receive the Pulitzer Prize are in jail. The 156 media body was closed by decree laws. According to the Turkish Journalists' Union (TGS), about 2,500 journalists and media workers lost their jobs for this reason. “Nokta” magazine which was one of the symbols of investigative journalismwas closed. Twelve executives and journalists from the Cumhuriyet newspaper are in jail. The reason was that a video of allegedly proving the transfer of arms to jihadist groups in Syria with the lorries belonging to the National Intelligence Organization were published in this newspaper. The newspaper claimed that this video was taken from the prosecution file.Moreover, a Deputy of the main opposition party, who was accused of bringing this video to journalists, was arrested.

It is also important that such an important report on this critical issue for democracy is written by Ms. Bilgehan, a Turkish delegate.

I would like to reiterate that I strongly support this report. It is of great importance that Member States should take all the measures mentioned in the report. But first of all, journalists want to be able to report without worrying about their life security and freedoms and we are the ones responsible for establishing press freedom for research journalists in all member states. Thank you.

27 June 2017