Strong Reaction to Journalists’ Arrest

December 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Thousands gathered in Istanbul and Ankara, protesting the arrest of journalists in relation to the infamous KCK operations. Journalists, MPs, rights activists, union leaders condemn the latest police operation as the final nail on the coffin of freedom of expression in Turkey.

İstanbul – BİA News Center
21 December 2011, Wednesday

Thousands of people took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara, protesting the arrest of journalists on allegations related to the so-called KCK operation. Police operations, investigations and massive trials into The Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), the umbrella organization that includes the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have seen thousands of pro-Kurdish politicians and rights activists arrested in the last two years.

Prominent journalists and journalism organizations strongly condemned yesterday’s police operations which took place in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Diyarbakır, Van and Adana.

While the motives behind the arrests are not clear yet, the news media reported that the suspects are alleged members of the press arm of the KCK. Mostly local correspondents, the journalists detained are working for Özgür Gündem, Vatan and BirGün dailies, Dicle and Fırat news agencies as well as AFP.

More than five thousand people walked through Istiklal Street in downtown Istanbul Tuesday evening, protesting the arrests. Protesters demanded the removal of the Anti-Terror Law which serves the basis for the operations.

“There are more than 70 journalists in prisons and we’re expected to accept that more will be joining them. We’re here today not just to defend the journalists but our right to information and our freedom of speech” said Alper Turgut, Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS).

A demonstration was also held in Ankara. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MPs Sebahat Tuncel, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, İdris Baluken, İbrahim Binici and Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Musa Çam, union leaders, journalists and rights activists attended.

Popular columnists speaking to bianet, also condemned the operation.

“State TV and news agency report that the operations are against the ‘media and propaganda leg of the KCK’. Even during the darkest days of 1990s such reporting was not present. We have to stand against normalizing these developments” said Ahmet Hakan, daily Hurriyet columnist.

“A new term, authoritarian democracy is in currency for a while. Now the democracy is gone and we’re stuck with authoritarian. Whatever the issue may be, it’s the press’ duty to scrutinize it. All governments must realize this: It’s our duty” added Tuğrul Eryılmaz, senior editor of Radikal daily. (EKN/YY/IC/EÜ)

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