Journalists’ associations to stage demonstrations in 5 provinces protesting arrest of 16 Kurdish journalists

Two journalist organizations will organize demonstrations on Friday in five Turkish provinces protesting the arrest of 16 Kurdish journalists on June 16, the Bianet news website reported.

The Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) and the Mezopotamya Female Journalists’ Platform (MKGP) will hold demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakır, Van and Mersin provinces. DFG co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu asked journalists, activists and members of the public to support their demonstrations.

“The prosecutor has not drafted an indictment in three months,” she said. “During the demonstrations, we will demand that the indictment be prepared and for the charges against our friends to be clarified.”

She emphasized the importance of the demonstrations to protect freedom of expression and the independent media.

Turkish authorities arrested 16 journalists, including the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) co-chair Serdar Altan, Mezopotamya news agency (MA) Editor-in-Chief Aziz Oruç and JinNews News Director Safiye Alagaş, on June 16, after they had been detained in Diyarbakır on June 8, in a move that sparked outrage among opposition politicians, press members and rights activists.

The journalists were arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization

Representatives for the Human Rights Foundation (IHD) recently said at a conference that the journalists were punished for their journalistic work, while the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) said the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was trying to “monopolize the press” with such moves, adding that they urgently needed to stop referring to government critics as terrorists and their journalistic work as terrorism.

It is common for journalists in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, to face threats, physical attacks and legal harassment due to their work.

Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey, which is among the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.

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