Hacı Bişkin – Duvar

Turkey’s Press Advertisement Institution, the authority for distributing official ads to newspapers, has cut the ads of two opposition dailies over several reasons in a move that journalists describe as an attempt to silence the opposition.

The institution has been blocking the ads of Evrensel and Birgün since August, which was when new appointments were made within the organization.

“They are carrying out a system that aims to eliminate the newspapers as a whole,” Birgün Board Chairman İbrahim Aydın told Duvar, adding that they will continue their struggle.

“Newspapers such as Birgün and Evrensel are not seeking profits. On the contrary, we try to be the voice of public opposition and those oppressed in the country. We are carrying out a public service,” he also said.

Calling on readers to own up to the papers, Aydın noted that the aim of the institution is to make the dailies go bankrupt instead of shutting them down.

“We will keep our newspapers on their feet no matter what happens. We would like them to know that these practices don’t mean anything to us. The right to advertisement is a right of the public. It needs to be shared equally. This is our right and we will continue to struggle for it,” he said.

Evrensel Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, meanwhile, said that the press institution has been implementing a systematical siege on the newspapers critical of the government.

“With the recent change in the administration of the Press Advertisement Institution, punishments aiming to make us unable to breathe are given from the uppermost level,” Polat told Duvar, adding that the cuts are related to articles critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey’s Syria policy, as well as the wording used to describe police actions.

“We were asked to submit our defense in relation to a story about President Erdoğan. We submitted one with plenty of references. Advertisements were cut for two days because of this story. We were also asked to give our defense regarding a story on Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s support for the jihadists in Syria. While it wasn’t taken to court, the institute cut our advertisements for three days,” Polat also said.

Saying that the pro-government dailies are supported, while the opposition once are being tried to be silenced following the administration change in the institution, Polat noted that these dailies shouldn’t be left alone.

He also said that the advertisements given to Birgün, Evrensel and daily Cumhuriyet are less than two percent of the institution’s overall advertisement capacity.

“The reason for the foundation of the institution is to support the existence of the dailies that inform the people. They are not distributing money that they own, but instead they hand out money obtained from the people’s taxes. A process that aims to suffocate us economically is being carried out,” Polat said, adding that they struggle meticulously against it.

“Lawmakers and press associations need to bring this to agenda,” he also said.