Turkey: Hearing of journalists on 4 February
ISTANBUL (DIHA) – The 3rd hearing of lawsuit of 44 indictee journalists of them 32 arrested will be held in Silivri Istanbul 15th High Penalty Courthouse on 4 February. The arbitrary applications of the court caused protests in the former trial.
The charges are so vague that indeed anyone with an interest (however slight) in Kurdish issues could be accused. News on environment, labor, politics, women, life, culture, art and daily developments were defined as criminal evidences in the indictment.
The 3rd hearing of lawsuit of the journalists, who were arrested in home raids made to Kurdish press foundations on 20 December 2011, will be held in Silivri Istanbul 15th High Penalty Courthouse on the 4th of February. Over one year ago some forty-eight journalists were detained in Turkey in perhaps the harshest attack on media to date. They were mostly working for Kurdish media, Dicle News Agency (DIHA), Dailies Azadiya Welat and Ozgur Gundem, Firat News Agency.
It is not a coincidence that in the report they released yesterday Reporters Without Borders called Turkey the world’s biggest prison for journalists. Today in prison there are, according to RSF, a total of 72 media workers in Turkish jails, of them 42 are journalists. The international organisation said these figures only related to cases they have established being against media workers. Other cases are still being investigated by RSF.
The operation on 20 December 2011 was launched by the Special Authorized Court Office and was grounded on Anti-terror Law. It was part of the so called KCK (Kurdish Communities Union), the specifically designed operation which has been targeting Kurds in whatever way they organise (being it democratically elected institution, unions, civil society, cultural organisations, unions etc) within the society. The charges are so vague that indeed anyone with an interest (however slight) in Kurdish issues could be accused of being part of this KCK structure.
The media, specifically the Kurdish, left wing and independent media, could not go untouched by this wave of frenzy repression of anything that has to do with Kurds. And indeed they were attacked in the most vicious way. Scores of journalists have been detained and many of them today are still in prison.
On 15 September 2012 the trial opened and it was even clearer then that the journalists are in prison for what they wrote. News on environment, labor, politics, women, life, culture, art and daily developments were defined as criminal evidences in the indictment which was prepared by Public Prosecutor Bilal Bayraktar and accepted by Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court on 11 May. So the trial is indeed against men and women but it is also against freedom of press.
The journalists’ interviews, reports and phone conversations are put forward as criminal evidences of membership and leadership of an illegal organization. The news published on Fırat News Agency (ANF) are presented as evidences of Kurdish press’ link to the PKK. It is also claimed that Roj Tv broadcasts on deaths in conflicts aim to provoke the people. The indictment also argues that the interview with BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, news on BDP panel discussions and Öcalan’s meeting notes are to be considered as Kurdish press’ link to the “terror organization”, referring to the PKK. “With a total of 72 media personnel currently detained, of whom at least 42 journalists and four media assistants are being held in connection with their media work, Turkey is now the world’s biggest prison for journalists – a sad paradox for a country that portrays itself a regional democratic model,” Reporters Without Borders said. And, added, “Most of the imprisoned journalists are representatives of Kurdish media, a situation that again underscores the fact that freedom of information in Turkey is inextricably linked with the search for a peaceful solution to the issue of its Kurdish minority.” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released ‘World Press Freedom Index 2013’ report fews days ago. In the report, Turkey was ranked as the 154th among 179 countries in the press freedom report. Turkey recedes continously according to the statistics from 2005 to now.