The International Press Institute (IPI) and IPI’s Turkey National Committee mark Human Rights Day on December 10 with an annual campaign in Turkey highlighting the stifled media environment and continued attacks on press freedom.

This year, IPI collaborated with two of Turkey’s last remaining critical satire magazines, LeMan and Bayan Yanı, to create cover pages that highlight the shrinking space not only for journalists but also members of the public in Turkey seeking access to fact-based news and information. The campaign’s motto reads: “If there is no freedom of expression, there is no access to news. If there is no freedom of the press, there is no democracy.”

Over the last decade, Turkey has carried out a sweeping crackdown on the press with the arrests of hundreds of journalists, mass trials and prosecutions, broadcasting bans and administrative fines against critical and independent media, news websites blockings, content removal requests, internet throttling and physical attacks and impunity for crimes against journalists.

In 2022, Turkey’s record has only worsened. A new disinformation law passed by the Turkish Parliament in October deepened concerns about a complete media capture by the Turkish government that aims to control the flow of information online and offline. Especially in the context of the run-up to national elections in 2023, this law is an attempt to restrict the remaining space for free expression and information.

During an IPI-led press freedom mission to Turkey in October, representatives of international press freedom and journalism groups focused on the new disinformation law in high-level meetings with the Turkish authorities and Turkish political parties. The delegation stressed the threat to the space for public criticism and debate posed by the law, which foresees up to three years imprisonment for those who publish “false information” among other vaguely defined articles granting new powers to various media regulatory authorities.

With this campaign, IPI renews our call on Turkey to withdraw the disinformation law to prevent further damage to the public’s right to access independent news. The new law threatens irreparable damage to freedom of expression and the press.

IPI previously carried out nationwide ad campaigns on December 10 in 2020 with the slogan “Press Freely” and in 2021 with the slogan “Censorship cannot bend the truth” to highlight the importance and resilience of independent journalism in Turkey despite the threats it faces. We will continue to stand with Turkish journalists who, despite it all, continue to produce quality journalism in the public interest and fight for freedom of the press.