Local newspaper shut down by AK Party municipality after polls

A local weekly newspaper in the western province of Bolu was shut down by a provincial municipality right after local polls were completed, leading to concerns over an intensifying crackdown on dissent and critical media outlets on the national and regional level.

Citing the newspaper’s lack of a necessary license, the municipality ordered the facility where it is printed shut down. The ban by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) municipality, however, was interpreted by critics as a move to silence and stifle any critical and dissenting voice, emboldened by resounding victory of the ruling party across Turkey. The newspaper ran critical news stories and pieces about corruption allegations involving many officials in the municipality, triggering a backlash as it faced a fierce crackdown.

Mehmet Demirci, owner of the now-closed Bolu Havadis newspaper, stated that several municipality officials came early on Thursday morning in order to shut down the paper’s activities.

“They shut down our newspaper on baseless grounds but we will resume publishing it, no matter what happens. They will not be able to silence the voices of the people of Bolu. We knew that the AK Party municipality was going to come down on us right after the elections but we don’t fear anyone,” said Demirci.

Demirci also said that the AK Party municipality’s main aim in shutting down Bolu Havadis is to scare other people who would attempt to bring to light corruption cases in Bolu.

The Bolu Municipality released a statement on Thursday regarding shutting down the newspaper saying that certain official paperwork was missing in the case so they followed up with the lawful procedure.

“We received complaints about the Bolu Havadis newspaper and after our inspections, we saw that several official documents were missing which are required to operate a business within the city limits of Bolu. Once Bolu Havadis completes the necessary paperwork, they will have the license back and resume their activities,” said the statement.