Journalist Tolu, who in jail with 2-years-old son, calls for solidarity in a letter sent from prison

Meşale Tolu.

Turkish-German journalist Meşale Tolu Çorlu, who has been in jail for almost a month together with her 2-years-old son, has called for solidarity in a letter she sent from prison. Tolu has stated in her letter that “I am now in prison with my son of 2 years old due to unfounded claims and unreal accusations. When my son will be able to understand this situation, I will tell him that we had been deprived of our freedom for having defended it.”

Tolu, a journalist for ETHA news agency, sent a letter from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in İstanbul where she is held since her arrest on May 6, 2017 to pro-Kurdish news outlets.

Telling what she lived while being taken into custody, Tolu has written that “I was treated as a ‘German agent’, just like Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt. It was claimed that I work for the German state and that I was in Turkey for Germany’s interests. I know the reasons why I have been chosen as a target are not those unfounded claims. The main reason is the fact that I work for a socialist press that defends the people’s right to have access to information, against the censorship policy of the state.”

 

Meşale Tolu Çorlu has written in her letter that “I was born in Germany and I was educated to become a teacher. I was working as a voluntary reporter and translator for the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), claiming to be part of the free press tradition in Turkey, until the 30th of April, when I was arrested during the night.”

She continued to write on her case in the letter as follow:

“On the eve of the 1st of May, day of the unity, solidarity and struggle of the working class, an unexpected attack was carried out in my house, in the name of a ‘preventive’ detention. My husband experienced a similar situation when he was arrested some days before the April 16 referendum. Three weeks after his arrest, the same prosecutor ordered my arrest. Even though they knew I was alone at home with my child of 2 years old, they entered the house in a violent manner. The special operations forces laid me down as soon as they entered.

“My son was crying in his room, woken up by the noise. Preventing me from standing up to calm him down, a special operations policeman entered his room with a long-barrelled gun. They made my son live these moments despite I repeated that there was a little child in the house. In a little while, my house was upside-down. I still have not understood why they entered so violently in a house where a woman lives with her child, and what they intended to find there.

“Just like Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt, I was treated as a ‘German agent’. It was claimed that I worked for the German state and that I was in Turkey for Germany’s interests. I know that the reasons why I have been chosen as a target are not those unfounded claims. The main reason is the fact that I work for a socialist press that defends the people’s right to have access to information, against the censorship of the state. The government, which did not reach its aim by closing down opponent newspapers, televisions and radios, continues its attacks by imprisoning journalists, writers and cartoonists. In the scope of these attacks, I was arrested on the 6th of May, after 6 days of custody.

“They are wrong to believe that they will silence us by imprisoning our bodies. We, journalists, will not remain silent, just as Dicle News Agency (DIHA), or Cumhuriyet, Özgür Gündem, Birgün and Evrensel newspapers did not, despite the pressure. Although the pro-government media ignores the imprisoned journalists, the press defending the people’s right to receive information will continue to be the voice of each other. This has been a real hope since I was taken into custody and arrested.

“I am one of the 159 journalists who are held captive in Turkey. I am now in prison with my son of 2 years old due to unfounded claims and unreal accusations. When my son will be able to understand this situation, I will tell him that we had been deprived of our freedom for having defended it.

“You can imagine that, in prison, the struggle to break censorship gains even more importance. From this perspective, I believe that you will show sensitivity to my situation and put it on the agenda. With hope and resistance…”

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of May 27, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 241 are arrested pending trial, only 23 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt.

June 3, 2017

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