Ayşegül Başar, a member of DİSK Basın-İş, as well as the Halkevleri (People’s Houses), was detained this morning in a police raid for participating in a call for secularism in a teahouse in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood in response to the massacre at the Reina night club in the first hours of the new year. Başar, who is being held captive at the Kulaksız Police Station, will be held for at least five days, according to the prosecutor, while police are still searching for two other people that spoke at the teahouse.
At a time when those who are responsble for the massacre at Reina have still not been apprehended, the fact that a young colleague of ours has been detained for issuing a call for secularism in her own neighborhood shows the degree of absurdity of the police forces and the Interior Ministry’s actions. The detention of Ayşegül Başar and her friends is no different than the government’s attempts to silence the truth in complete disregard for freedom of the press and expression and its countless legal and police operations against journalists due to their stories. It is unacceptable that the government, which does little but condemn massacres while maintaing its silence, would stoop to detaining a journalist while attempting to portray calls for secularism as a crime.
Our sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the massacre at Reina. We demand that our member Ayşegül Başar be released at once and that the Interior Ministry and police forces begin displaying an effort to shed light on those who were responsible for this massacre rather than on those who reacted against this slaughter.