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?

The Armenian Assembly of America will hold a panel discussion entitled “The Armenian Genocide in American Journalism: 1915-2015” at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

The Assembly panel will feature presentations by Christopher Atamian, author and writer for Huffington Post, Michael Bobelian, author and contributing writer for Forbes.com, Stephen Kurkjian, former journalist fromThe Boston Globe, and Robert Ourlian, editor for the Washington Bureau of The Wall Street Journal. Peter Mirijanian, President of Peter Mirijanian Public Affairs, will serve as moderator.

The discussion will focus on how the Armenian Genocide has been characterized and portrayed in American media over the last 100 years. Mainstream American publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe extensively covered the Armenian Genocide before, during and after the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people. In addition to the reports of the massacres, coverage of America’s effort to help save the survivors, the first international philanthropic campaign of the American people in the 20th century, received considerable attention in the press.

As we approach the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, the topic is being featured in every major news syndicate across the globe. In fact, following the frank acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide as “the first genocide of the twentieth century” by Pope Francis on April 12, the editorial boards of theChicago Tribune, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Times, and Jerusalem Post have all called for US and international recognition.

The panel discussion will be held in the Holeman Lounge, National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045. The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and RSVP is required. Online registration is available here:https://armeniangenocideamericanjournalism.eventbrite.com.