The Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) gave one of this year’s Courage in Journalism Awards to Kurdish journalist and painter Zehra Doğan, who has been in jail since June 2017.
“The Courage in Journalism Awards show people that female journalists are not going to step aside, cannot be silenced, and deserve to be recognized for their strength in the face of adversity. It honors the brave journalists who report on taboo topics, work in environments hostile to women, and share difficult truths,” the IWMF said in a statement on their website.
Doğan was one of the founders of JİNHA, Turkey’s first women’s news agency that was shut down by a government decree in 2016.
Doğan was sentenced to two years, nine months and 22 days in prison on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in social media posts and news stories.
Her reports covered curfews in Turkey’s Southeast imposed during a military offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as well as the occupation by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of Kurdish-populated towns in northern Syria.
In March, famous British street artist Banksy portrayed Zehra Doğan and her drawings in a mural in New York City.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 242 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 3, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 182 were under arrest pending trial while only 60 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)