The number of journalists in prison around the world is at an all time high, and Turkey has the infamous distinction of imprisoning more journalists than any other country. The International Press Institute (IPI) reports that more than 150 journalists and other media workers are currently in jail in Turkey.
Among these are Ahmet Şık, a long time government critic who is currently facing charges of “terrorist propaganda” for statements he made on social media, as well as Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German dual citizen who is a reporter for the German paper Die Welt.
In an effort to draw attention to the plight of Turkey’s embattled journalists, the IPI has launched FreeTurkeyJournalists.com. The purpose of this ongoing project is “to promote and defend free expression in Turkey by calling for every journalist behind bars to receive due process and for the release of anyone detained for practicing journalism.” There are currently 153 individual cases listed on the project’s website. Although there is only bare-bones information for each imprisoned journalist at the moment, the IPI plans to add extensive details about charges, upcoming court dates, as well as personal information, for each detainee.
Even in its preliminary state, the visual impact of the website is significant. Each individual is represented by a picture that links to his or her case page. With each face lined up side-by-side, the sheer number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey, and the enormous human impact of the crackdown on press freedom there, is strikingly clear.
The project includes a blog with articles in both Turkish and English that chronicle the latest developments in each journalist’s case, as well as the Turkish press’s overall struggle against increasing government repression.
The IPI is not the first press freedom organization to take aim at the ongoing issues in Turkey. For about a year now, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been issuing a weekly “Turkey Crackdown Chronicle,” which documents all the incidents threatening journalists and press freedom in the country. Compiled by Ozgur Ogret, the CPJ Turkey representative, the Crackdown Chronicle is a critical clearinghouse for information on press freedom in Turkey.