This year's 103rd Anniversary of the Day of Journalists and Resistance to Censorship celebrated on 24 July was marked by publishing the very first issue of the "Prisoner Gazette" ('Tutuklu Gazete'). 39 detained and convicted journalists contributed to the 12-page newspaper. The first issue of the paper printed in black and white was distributed together with the dailies Evrensel, Özgür Gündem, Azadiya Welat, Birgün, Aydınlık and Cumhuriyet newspaper. The headline read "RESISTANCE TO CENCORSHIP".
The Prisoner Gazette has a circulation of 44,950 copies. The following journalists are included in the list of writers for the first issue: Bedri Adanır, Nedim Şener, Müyesser Yıldız, Vedat Kurşun, Ahmet Şık, Deniz Yıldırım, Barış Pehlivan, Tuncay Özkan, Soner Yalçın, Füsun Erdoğan, Barış Terkoğlu, Suzan Zengin, Sedat Şenoğlu, Musa Kurt, Barış Açıkel, Ali Buluş, Miktat Algül, Mustafa Gök, Seyithan Akyüz, Faysal Tunç, Rohat Emekçi, Kaan Ünsal, Fazıl Duygun, Bayram Namaz, Mehmet Yeşiltepe, Hatice Duman, Halit Güdenoğlu, Ozan Kılınç, Cihan Gün, Murat İlhan, Baha Okar, Sait Çakır, Mehmet Karabaş, Sinan Aygül, Kadri Kaya, Erol Zavar, Hamdiye Çiftçi, Ahmet Birsin and Kenan Karavil.
In the night of 24 July 1908, the journalists in Istanbul decided not to allow the censors into their newspapers. The news spread quickly among the journalists who stayed at their newspaper offices the whole night. The newspapers were written and went to press. The journalists took guard at the entrances of the buildings. When the censors came, the journalists told them "The Constitutional Era has been declared. The press is independent". They did not allow the censors into the buildings. On the following day, 25 July 1908, the newspapers were free of white columns and censored blackened lines. Since the day the Second Constitutional Era was announced on 24 July 1908, this day is being celebrated as the "Day of Journalists" (Press Day).
Journalist Şık: "This article might bother you"
Journalist Ahmet Şık, detained since 6 March 2011, wrote an article for the Prisoner Gazette entitled "This article might bother you". Şık is being imprisoned at the Silivri Prison west of Istanbul where he wrote his article.
He wrote, "24 July is the anniversary of the abolishing of censorship in Turkey. What a formidable day that makes the people so proud, isn't it. At the same time, more than 70 journalists are in prison, the others are waiting in line and everybody knows the limit on what you know and how much you say on which topic. Let us have a look at former times, at the legends and tales of our childhood. We frequently came across heroes fighting against dragons and monsters (...)"
"The core of today's dragons and monsters is not any different. There is just one difference: the look. (...) There are attributes like bureaucrat, politician, soldier, police officer, judge or prosecutor. And some of them are certainly known as journalists".
"Regardless of names and looks, the pretence has reached a point where it cannot be concealed anymore. The issues represented by every one of them with their democratic masks and allegations are the same: power and tutelage (...).
"Every one of them is a representative of tutelage and of a power that is hiding in various shapes and attributes and in the holiest clothes with the scream of 'civilization'. It is such a power that orders are raining down and being directed. It cheats. It deceives. It blackmails. It accuses. The ones who are targeted are called 'terrorists' and put to jail. Just like the monsters in the tales and legends, they swallow everything in one bite. They tear everything into pieces with their claws. The name of the claws is the military, the police, sometimes the judges and prosecutors but, unsurprisingly, the name of these claws is also the media (...)", Şık wrote.
2011 Press Freedom Awards
24 July was also the day of the "2011 Press Freedom" awards of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC). The prize giving ceremony was held at the historical Dolmabahçe Palace on the European banks of the Bosporus in Istanbul.
The speakers who took the work on stage also emphasized that 70 journalists are currently being imprisoned in Turkey.
The Freedom for Journalists Platform (GÖP) was bestowed with the institution award. The prize was accepted by current GÖP President Ahmet Abakay, former President Ferai Tunç, Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Oktay Ekşi and Ercan İpekçi.
The personal award was shared by İpekçi as the President of the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) and journalist Ahmet Şık. (IC/AS)