9 Kurdish journalists detained in police raids in Turkey

Turkish police conducted a series of coordinated home raids in İstanbul, Ankara and southeastern Urfa province on Tuesday, resulting in the detention of nine Kurdish journalists, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

The detainees include Mehmet Aslan, a reporter for Mezopotamya who was taken into custody at his home in Ankara. In Urfa, former Mezopotamya journalist Doğan Kaynak was also detained. In İstanbul, the operation swept up several journalists from diverse outlets: Esra Solin Dal of Mezopotamya, Enes Sezgin of the Yeni Yaşam newspaper and other members of the press including Saliha Aras, Yeşim Alıcı, Beste Argat Balcı, Şirin Ermiş and Erdoğan Alayumat.

Authorities have imposed restrictions on the detained journalists, barring them from meeting with their lawyers, a move that raises significant human rights concerns. The Turkish government has not yet provided a clear justification for the raids or the restrictions on legal counsel.

This action is part of a troubling trend in Turkey, where the government has been increasingly repressive of the press, particularly those voicing opposition or reporting on sensitive issues such as Kurdish rights.

The international community, including human rights organizations, has repeatedly condemned these actions, which they see as attempts to stifle freedom of expression and suppress dissenting voices.

In addition to the raids in Turkey, there were also police raids on Kurdish media in Belgium on Tuesday, where police raided the offices of Stêrk TV and Medya Haber TV.

Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are given jail sentences for covering issues related to Kurds and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and was ranked 165th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2023, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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