New York Times Editorial Board Highlights “Foreign Journalists Under Fire” in Turkey, Azerbaijan

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September 10, 2015

By Taniel Koushakjian (@Taniel_Shant)

AAANews Blog

On Sunday,
September 6, the New York Times
Editorial Board wrote a rebuke of three countries in the world whose
governments have intimidated, beaten, prosecuted, and imprisoned journalists
all in an effort to silence the freedom of the press. In addition to Egypt,
Turkey and Azerbaijan were rightfully called out for their anti-democratic
trends.

“On Tuesday,
in Azerbaijan, an award-winning investigative journalist was not allowed to
finish her closing statement before a judge sentenced her to more than seven
years in prison.

 

“Authorities
in Turkey, meanwhile, took three journalists from VICE news, a media company,
into custody last weekend, claiming, spuriously, that the journalists were
aiding the Islamic State. Later in the week, police officers raided the office
of another company that owns news outlets.

 

“These efforts
by governments to silence journalists are having a profoundly corrosive effect
on journalism at a time when strong news gathering is sorely needed.”

It is
refreshing to hear the NYT Editorial Board continually call for “a more robust
response from the international community.” Indeed, such calls were registered by
the Times when RFE/RL reporter Khadija Ismayilova was first arrested in Azerbaijan
10 months ago. The Times went even
further when they published Ismayilova’s jail-penned letter to the editor this
summer.  

While Turkey
is less frequently criticized in major publications, the New York Times did identify
“Mr. Erdogan’s paranoid bullying” following a wave of mass arrests of
journalists and new laws restricting public access to the Internet late last
year. “Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to stifle criticism and dissent show an
authoritarian leader living in a parallel universe,” the Times wrote in December.

In 2013,
Turkey surpassed Iran and China as the world’s number one imprisoner of
journalists, a title that it retains today.

Certainly,
the NYT is correct to assert this week that “World leaders, meanwhile, should
do more than issue paltry statements expressing ‘grave concern.’ They should
raise hell.”

The question
is, will world leaders, particularly here in the United States, heed these calls,
or will the Turkish and Azerbaijani government’s assault on independent
journalism continue to get worse?

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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