The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed deep alarm at the appearance today of a “media hate list” published by the leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, in the pro-government newspapers Sabah and Hürriyet.
Under the title “A thank you message”, Bahçeli “thanks” the 70 names that appear on the list, including IPI Executive Board Member Kadri Gürsel, for their alleged “constant slander and shocking claims” and declares “we will never forget what you have done, your comments and what you have written.”
In addition to Gürsel, the list notes several other journalists, such as Cumhuriyet’s Aydın Engin and Erdem Gül, in addition to a number of academics and pollsters. It was not immediately clear what prompted the inclusion of many of the names on the list. Several journalists had previously published polling indicating that the MHP was unlikely to receive more than five percent of the vote in Sunday’s national elections. The party beat expectations to win more than 10 percent, allowing it to form a majority coalition with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan´s Justice and Development (AKP) party, which garnered around 42 percent.
IPI Turkey Advocacy Coordinator Caroline Stockford called Bahçeli’s list “highly dangerous”.
“We condemn the MHP party leader’s rhetoric, which risks inciting public intimidation, harassment and, in extreme cases, even violence against the persons included on this list and more broadly against any journalist who reports critically on power in Turkey”, she said. “Such language is wholly irresponsible for the leader of a party that intends to join the government of a country bound by international treaties to respect the right of freedom of expression.”
She added: “We emphasize that the role of critical, independent journalism in any democracy is to hold power to account on behalf of the public. The Turkish government has an obligation to allow journalists to practice their profession freely.”
Stockford said IPI urged Bahçeli to publicly and immediately withdraw the list.