According to the latest study by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 95 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, compared to 57 at this time last year.
If there could be no international pressure from reputable organizations such as OSCE and IPI, prominent Turkish journalists like Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik would still be imprisoned, as the Turkish government kept trying to save its image.
Meanwhile, there are other international actors who apply double-standards just to please the Turkish government for various reasons. New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), for instance, had played for the government's hand by relying on official Turkish figures about the number of the imprisoned journalists. Although their method in Turkey contradicted to the one that they practiced in Iran, they -at least- stepped back after noticing their mistake, announced that they would prepare a new report.
Even a worse example has been given, as another political double-standard that risks the lives of Turkish journalists was applied by Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt yesterday. He said that most of the imprisoned journalists in Turkey were behind bars because of crimes, unrelated to their profession. Some are terror-related, some are accused of being a part of a coup plan...
These words sound like not only ignorant, but also ill-intentioned. Bildt's narrative is strikingly similar to Turkey's EU Minister Egemen Bagis, who recently argued that those journalists were arrested because of crimes like bank robbing or rape!
In reality, all 95 of these journalists were arrested just because of what they write, according to several international organizations, including Council of Europe and European Parliament.
Turkish prosecutors argue that some of them tried to help coup plotters by their publications, some of them did it in the name of PKK terrorist organization. None of them used or encouraged violence, which is enough for them to remain outside of the prison in any democratic country.
It seems that Carl Bildt has different visions of democracy for Sweden and Turkey. Such hypocrisy is not new to him, though. He recently said that, although he has not been consulted on the scandalous weapons deals with Saudi Arabia, he sees no problems with exporting arms to the country. So, Saudi Arabia, with a human rights record similar to Iran's, is probably among Bildt's friends, well, because they pay good money, unlike Iran!
Bildt and his like must know that they are becoming accomplices in the crime against humanity, democracy and free press in Turkey.
Money is temporary, honor is permanent. History will write about our choices and for what sake we had made them.
PS: Bildt, like many others, kept repeating that the Turkish government tries to solve the problem. This government has been in power since 2002. Even the on-going reform process, including two bills that are being debated in the parliamentary commissions are not enough. Even if Article 6 and Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law (these articles double the penalty if a terror-related crime is committed through media organizations -like propaganda) are revoked, many journalists are behind prison bars not only because of the Anti-Terror Law, but also Chapter 5 of the Turkish Penal Code, which is about the crimes against the state. The core of the issue is not laws, but their application. If Bildt and his like kept praising this government, ignoring its severe violations of human rights like free speech, the Turkish judiciary -which is completely controlled by the government now- will remain as anti-democratic as today.