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Kurdish journalist warns of global threat to journalism ahead of World Press Freedom Day

KURDISH journalist Seda Taskin called for international solidarity ahead of World Press Freedom Day which takes place on Sunday under the banner of support for “journalism without fear or favour.”

She warned that the principle of a free press – as outlined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is under threat from governments that want to suppress criticism.

Ms Takin, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in Turkey on trumped up terrorism charges said: “The media's ability to report freely on issues that concern us and affect our lives is the cornerstone of every society that respects rights.

“It is very difficult to talk about the facts in a place where the press is not free.”

World Press Freedom Day was launched by the United Nations in 1993 and is backed by a range of global rights and press freedom organisations along with governments and other bodies.

It is usually marked by a series of events and an international conference which has been postponed until October due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

But Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which released its 2020 World Press Freedom Index last week, warned that there was “a clear correlation between suppression of media freedom in response to the coronavirus pandemic and a country’s ranking in the index.”

It insisted that the long-term risks of suppressing press freedoms had been exposed by the pandemic with the promotion of transparent reporting “a global necessity.”

Media freedom has come under attack most notably in the US with President Donald Trump branding the press “the enemy of the people,” frequently taking aim at those critical of his policies or questioning his judgement.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day calls for “awareness on specific issues about the safety of journalists, their independence from political or commercial influence, and gender equality in all aspects of the media.”

Ms Taskin said that unfortunately we are reminded of the decline in press freedom when May 3 comes every year with around 200 journalists jailed in Turkey simply for doing their job.

“In a country where hundreds of journalists are imprisoned, it is quite difficult to bring the words press and freedom together. However, no matter how dark the picture may seem, there are still journalists continuing the struggle.

“All journalists should establish a common solidarity network and act jointly at this point. It is our duty to protect all our colleagues in any country,” she said.

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