On Friday, Sezai Temelli, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP), criticized the distortion of his words by some pro-government media outlets.
During an election rally in the southeastern province of Hakkari, Temelli alleged that everyone except the pro-government media has understood HDP’s local election strategy.
“[To the crowd] Have you understood our election strategy? I already know that you understand. I am trying to make CNN Turk understand. I am trying to make Hurriyet understand,” he said as he mocked the media’s “distortions.”
— Giran Ozcan (@GiranOzcan) March 17, 2019
During a TV program, Temelli had explained the HDP’s election strategy of not putting forward mayoral candidates in some provinces but supporting opposition parties’ candidates.
He used Ankara and Istanbul as examples of where HDP would support the Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidates, Mansur Yavas and Ekrem Imamoglu, saying, “If elected, Mansur Yavas should know that it is because of HDP votes. He cannot do politics by ignoring HDP voters and Kurds. If elected, Ekrem Imamoglu should know that it became possible with 3 million votes from Kurdish people living there. He cannot do politics without Kurds.”
Some pro-government media including CNN Turk news channel, Hurriyet and Posta daily newspapers, reported the news as though Temelli had said that HDP would run Ankara and Istanbul if CHP candidates won the elections.
Government-affiliated media allegedly distorted Temelli’s words, saying, “Clear admission and threat from Temelli: HDP, not Yavas or Imamoglu, will run Ankara and Istanbul.”
After receiving criticism from various parties, Hurriyet released a statement and edited the report to reveal the truth behind Temelli’s words.
Temelli challenged the ruling party to discuss on TV
Temelli claimed that the ruling AKP Party (AKP) has been cracking down on Turkish media, encouraging them not to broadcast opposition parties’ rallies.
He challenged the ruling party and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to participate together in an election TV broadcast so there could be equal and fair coverage.
“They [AKP] have been insulting and attacking us all day long through TV channels that they have seized. If you feel courageous enough, let’s participate together in TV programs. Do you have the courage to do that? No, you don’t,” Temelli challenged.
The ruling party has excessive coverage on Turkish media
According to Erdogan’s critics, Turkey lacks governance for electoral contestants to compete equally in terms of media coverage.
During the early presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2018, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received excessive coverage by government-affiliated public and private media, according to International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), a common endeavor involving the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Dogan Media Group bought by pro-government
Opponents claim that Erdogan has been muting and silencing critical voices in Turkey. “The media is now under total control of the ruling AKP and its close confidants,” alleged openDemocracy, an independent global media platform.
Dogan Media Group, once criticized by Erdogan for being biased against him and the ruling party was bought by Demiroren Group, a conglomerate known for its close ties to AKP, just before the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018.
The acquisition has been criticized for bringing the mass circulation newspapers and the biggest TV channels into the pro-government fold.
The group notably owns the dailies Hurriyet and Posta, and the channels Kanal D and CNN Turk.