Owner of closed Kurdish daily and 24 people detained in Diyarbakır

Ramazan Ölçen, owner of the now-closed-down Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat.

A total of 25 people, including Ramazan Ölçen, owner of the pro-Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat, have been detained by Turkish police in simultaneous raids in Diyarbakır, Evrensel daily reported on Saturday.

According to Evrensel daily, Ramazan Ölçen was also detained in a police raid on his Diyarbakır home on Saturday. No reason was cited for his detention according to Kurdish news websites. 24 of the detainees were the distributors of the paper and identified as follows: Yasemin Sayın, Hayat Yılmaz, Ahmet Kızılay, Arap Turan, Berxwedan Tulpar, Sürreya Dal, Zeynep İzgi, İbrahim Bayram, Engin Özelçi, Ahmet Boltan, Ceylan İpek, Mehmet Emin Kaya, Ziyan Karahan, Veysi Altın, Ercan Yeltaş, Azime Tarhan, Serdal Polat, Cengiz Aslan, Ferit Toprak, Mehmet Hüseyin Şahin, Mehmet Aydın, Pusat Bulut, Mehmet Emin Akgün.

Azadiya Welat was shut down with a decree issued by the Turkish government following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The paper was among the 15 pro-Kurdish media outlets closed down by a decree issued in October 2016. The crackdown on the Kurdish media and political movement gained momentum after a failed coup on July 15, 2016 in Turkey.

Stockholm Center for Freedom, an advocacy group that monitors rights violations in Turkey, issued a report on March 1, 2017, saying that the number of jailed journalist has reached to a new record of 200 with Germany’s Die Welt, Deniz Yücel being among new arrestees.

Of these journalists, 179 are arrested pending trial and without a conviction. Most of the journalists do not even know what the charges are or what evidence, if any, the government has because the indictments were not filed yet. Also, over 180 media outlets have been closed by AKP government last year.

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