Kurdish Journalist Sentenced to Prison for Revealing Torture

by Alliance for Kurdish Rights / 14.7.2013

Kurdish Journalist Hamdiye Çiftçi has been in trouble ever since she covered the police violence that 14-year-old Cüneyt Ertuş was exposed to in 2008. Having been detained for 2 years within the scope of KCK operations, Çiftçi has been sentenced to one more year in prison on accusations that she revealed the name of the police officers. But the police officers who broke the arm of the child have not been given any punishment.

14-year old Kurdish boy Cüneyt Ertuş was subjected to police violence during the Newroz celebrations in the Kurdish province of Colemêrg (Hakkari) 5 years ago.  Hamdiye Çiftçi’s coverage of this incident was used as evidence against her when she was detained as part of the KCK case which kept her under arrest for 2 years.

Çiftçi has been convicted to 1 more year in prison on the grounds that “she revealed the name of the state officials that were involved in the war against terrorism.”  The ruling of the court has been suspended. Çiftçi will stand her next trial on 16 July.

Durmuş Yiğit, specially authorized prosecutor of the Kurdish province of Van, drew up an indictment regarding Hamdiye Çiftçi on the accusations that “she is a member of an organization.” The prosecutor referred to Çiftçi as “a worker of DIHA (Dicle News Agency) which is directed by the PKK” while he considered the police violence against Cüneyt Ertuş “groundless” even though the incident had been shot with a camera and covered by the national and international media for days.

The video footage of the incident which was found in Çiftçi’s house during police raid was described as “a crime element.” In his indictment, the prosecutor charged Çiftçi with “giving the video footage to the media”.

Çiftçi was detained in 2012 within the KCK operations and was jailed in Bitlis E Type Prison for about 2 years. She was released in April last year by the decision of Van 3rd high criminal court.

But her covering the police violence that Cüneyt Ertuş experienced did not please Turkish authorities. Van specially authorized public prosecution office filed a suit against Çiftçi due to the same coverage on the grounds that “she exposed the identity of the state officials who participated in the war on terrorism.”

In the indictment, public prosecutor Mehmet Ali Canavcı alleges that Çiftçi made propaganda of the “terrorist organization” by publishing fabricated news in the national media. The indictment also claims that Cüneyt’s arm was not broken according to 4 medical reports.

But the video footageapparently showed plainclothes police officers injuring Cuneyt Ertus’ arm while he was under their control and not resisting arrest.

“This punishment has not been given to me; it has been given to the freedom of press and expression”, Hamdiye Çiftçi said. 22 Kurdish journalists have been jailed within “KCK” operations.

What happened in 2008?

14-year-old Cüneyt Ertuş’s arm was broken by police officers in the Newroz celebrations in 2008 in Colemêrg. Ertuş said that he was also beaten and tortured after he was detained. Family’s lawyer Fahri Timur documented the torture with medical reports and filed a criminal complaint against police officers. Amnesty International also condemned the police violence and called for an investigationinto the events surrounding the boy’s detention.

However, the investigation on the officers was dropped with the filing of a nolle prosequi.

According to the Turkish judiciary system, breaking a child’s arm does not constitute a crime but documenting and publishing it does.

Police violence against Kurds is a daily routine in Kurdish cities.