Throughout history, the state has also busied itself declaring someone or other as a brigand, bandit, anarchist, marauder or terrorist. It’s killed some of them and imprisoned the others. Sometimes those at the head of the state shed “tears” while reading poems for those declared to be terrorists; at other times, they invite crowds to jeer the mothers of the ostensible terrorists.
Freedom of the press in Turkey is regressing with every passing day in inverse proportion to the number of journalists who come to fill the country’s jails as arrestees.
Of our 39 colleagues who are in jail, 13 are from the Dicle News Agency (DİHA). DİHA has a particularly important role to play in informing the public about what is happening in areas in which there are curfews and clashes.
Like the other arrested journalists, DİHA reporters have been arrested on charges like spying and conducting terrorist propaganda. The government, meanwhile, claims that they aren’t even journalists. Don’t forget what government officials and their court chroniclers said about colleagues of ours who were held in jail for more than a year for a book that hadn’t even been published: namely, that they weren’t journalists and that a book can be as dangerous as a bomb. Sometime later, these same people claimed to have been duped on the matter.
Now, however, they have returned to claiming that none of the journalists currently under arrest are journalists. One of these journalists is DİHA’s Nedim Oruç, who is facing crimes that include not informing the security services about the digging of trenches and the erection of barricades in Silopi!
Nedim Oruç will finally appear before a judge tomorrow after six months in prison because he sought to provide information to the public, rather than be an informant.
As DİSK Basın-İş, we will follow this case. We demand that Nedim Oruç and all other arrested journalists be released immediately, that all cases against journalists be dropped forthwith and that all obstacles to the freedom of the press and expression be lifted without hesitation.
DİSK Basın-İş Chair Faruk Eren and Board of Directors member Ayşe Düzkan provided testimony to Turkish prosecutors at the Istanbul Courthouse on 23 May in connection with an investigation opened into a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem that began on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.
Journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu joined Eren and Düzkan in providing testimony in the probe, which has now expanded to include 12 journalists who have also participated in the campaign in which visiting journalists symbolically assume editor-in-chief duties for the day.
The trio received support from DİSK Chair Kani Beko, Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) head Uğur Güç and Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) representative Sibel Güneş.
Speaking before providing his testimony on behalf of himself and the others, Eren said the investigation had been opened because they showed solidarity with Özgür Gündem and that they would return every Monday to support other journalists as they provide their own testimony in the probe.
The lack of press freedom in Turkey has reached a serious level, Eren said. “The fact that trials can be opened against journalists showing solidarity with other journalists depicts just how embarrassing the situation has become.”
Eren said he and the others would continue to show solidarity with colleagues who are targeted.
In addition to Eren, Düzkan and Mavioğlu, investigations have now been opened into Mustafa Sönmez, Melda Onur, Fehim Işık, Celal Başlangıç, Eşber Yağmurdereli, Ragıp Duran, Nurcan Baysal, Ömer Ağın and Ahmet Abakay. At the same time, Özgür Gündem News Editor İnan Kızılkaya is set to provide testimony to prosecutors as part of an investigation into “terrorist propaganda.”
The 6 May gun attack against Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, who, along with colleague Erdem Gül is on trial for lifting the lid on how the Turkish government sent weapons to Syria, lays bare how close those who are devoid of respect for the law – or just plain respect – have brought Turkey to the precipice.