DFG 2021 Report: 62 journalists behind bars in Turkey

A new report released by Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) reveals that out of the 55 journalists attacked in 2021, 2 lost their lives. Dozens of lawsuits were filed against journalists and 62 remained behind bars last year.

The Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) released its "Report on Violations of Rights Against Journalists in 2021" at a press conference at the association's office in Amed (Diyarbakır). DFG co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu pointed out that January 4, the report’s release date, also marks the 2nd anniversary of the association. “When we established our association two years ago, our primary goal was to create a freer and more liveable world. However, we should have a democratic culture where freedom of thought and expression are promoted in order to do so. The most basic requirement for this is undoubtedly the freedom of the press,” Müftüoğlu said.


“Even though the oppressed peoples, especially the Kurds, enthusiastically increased their struggle in 2021, they were nevertheless persecuted by the government as a whole,” Müftüoğlu noted.

Müftüoğlu remarked that the country saw no positive developments in terms of freedom of expression and press freedom. “During the 19-year rule of the AKP since 2002, freedom of thought and expression have gradually decayed. We can say that 2021 was a difficult year for journalists. In order to prevent the public right to receive information, governments all over the world put journalists under pressure, jailed them and tried to cover up the facts. In Turkey, this oppression was experienced even more seriously. Dozens of journalists had to welcome the new year in prison,” he said.


Noting that journalists are still seen as “dangerous beings”, Müftüoğlu addressed the detentions and arrests in the country.

“Journalists face many difficulties when they make news. All methods are introduced to remove journalists from the fields. Any journalist who deviates from the official discourse cannot find the opportunity to work comfortably. Towards the end of the year, we witnessed how digital media content producers conducting public interviews were detained.

The government crackdown against freedom of the press shows us that Turkey is a prison for journalists. The same goes for journalists who are not in prison, who cannot find the opportunity to practice their profession in a free environment either. Journalists are demonized because they do not work in pro-government media outlets.


Müftüoğlu noted that websites were subjected to censorship and closure during the year. “The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), which has become a primitive institution and functions as a censorship board, was also a nightmare for media outlets in 2021. During the year, oppositional media outlets were punished and silenced by RTÜK. The Press Advertisement Institution (BİK) did not offer advertisements to oppositional newspapers,” she said.


"We dream of a more democratic, liberal country where the freedom of thought and expression is not restricted, where journalists can do their job freely. Unfortunately, the rulers of the country are far from realizing this. Unfortunately, it is not possible to talk about the freedom of journalists in an environment where the oppressive regime has spread all over the society. However, as journalists who defend a free press and try to build a more democratic life, we would like to reiterate that we will continue to tell the truths.”


Speaking after, DFG co-chair Serdar Altan shared the details of the report. Altan stated that in a year, 55 journalists were attacked, 2 were killed, houses of 9 journalists were raided, 61 were detained, 6 were arrested, 23 were tortured and ill-treated, 11 were threatened and forced to become government spy. 102 journalists were blocked during news follow-up and 17 of them were subjected to rights violations in prisons.

The report revealed that 54 journalists were investigated, 51 were prosecuted, 47 were sentenced to 133 years, 8 months and 21 days in prison and were fined 72.206 thousand TL. The report noted that there are a total of 336 ongoing trials against 746 journalists and 62 journalists are still behind bars.

75 journalists were dismissed and the press card of 1 journalist was cancelled. RTÜK imposed 59 fines on 12 broadcasts, 115 days advertisement ban to 4 newspapers, and 112 publication bans. 64 websites were closed, 1,460 news and 160 social media contents were banned.

Altan pointed out that they prepared the report based on the data they could obtain and that the violations were much greater.