Union: 59 journalists sacked since Turkey unrest

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At least 59 journalists in Turkey seen as critical of the government have been sacked or forced to resign since the start of nationwide protests in May, the country’s journalists’ union said Wednesday.

The TGS union said “at least 59 journalists have lost their jobs and the future of 14 others is in the balance.”

Of those who lost their jobs, 22 were fired and 37 forced to quit by their employers, it said in a statement, denouncing government pressure to get rid of journalists seen as lacking support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative policies.

Last month the International Journalists’ Federation condemned the “disproportionate force” used by Turkish authorities against reporters covering the deadly protests against Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government.

Police in Istanbul deliberately targeted journalists with teargas and several were injured covering the unrest, said the IFJ, which represents some 600,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.

It also questioned Erdogan’s description of Twitter as a “threat to society.”

The unrest began in late May when police cracked down heavily on a peaceful campaign to save Istanbul’s Gezi Park from redevelopment, spiraling into nationwide demos against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdogan, whom the protesters accuse of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Demonstrators have also slammed what they say is the submissive attitude of many Turkish press groups to the government, with newspapers and television channels often controlled by the government.

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