Pro-Kurdish journalists say Turkish gov’t asked them to work as spies

Pro-Kurdish journalists Durket Süren and Nurcan Yalçın, who were reporters for the Jinnews news agency, have said they were asked while in police custody to work as spies for the Turkish Interior Ministry.

Detained on different occasions, both Süren and Yalçın said they were offered the opportunity to gather information on behalf of the ministry. When they turned down “the offer,” they were threatened.

During a press conference at the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Diyarbakır branch on Tuesday, the journalists said they were approached by people who claimed to be working at the Interior Ministry.

Süren, who was briefly detained by police on March 1, was first contacted by alleged ministry officials who told her, “We want to know about public opinion with your help.” Süren said she rejected their offer only to be approached by another man, named Cihan, who threatened her by saying that “we know where you work. You are getting directives from [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) base] Qandil, right? … If you help us, we will help you, too.”

Yalçın described a similar conversation she had with alleged ministry officials who visited her while in custody on May 4.

İHD Diyarbakır branch head Raci Bilici said many people have complained to their organization over being asked to work for the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) or affiliated institutions very recently.

Duygu Erol, another reporter for Jinnews, said in late March that she was also approached in a similar way at a detention center.

Meanwhile, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Meral Danış Bektaş has said her brother, a doctor of internal medicine, was removed from his job by a government decree because he is Bektaş’s brother, according to a report by online news outlet Gazete Duvar.

Speaking at Parliament on Thursday about controversial decrees that have been issued by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government during an ongoing state of emergency that was declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Bektaş said: “I don’t want to say this, but I have to. My brother, an associate professor, a nephrologist, was removed from his job. I was able to access his dossier thanks to AKP deputies. There is only one note next to his name: ‘He is the brother of HDP deputy Meral Danış Bektaş.’”

More than 150,000 people have been removed from civil service jobs through government decrees in a massive purge launched by the AKP government under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Bektaş said she is a deputy elected to Parliament by the people of Turkey and that she is not a criminal.

“I don’t like to give an example from my family, but thousands of people [like my brother] have been removed from their jobs. This is simply tyranny. This is simply fascism,” she said.

Bektaş’s brother, Associate Professor Ramazan Danış, told gazeteduvar that he was removed from his job at a public hospital in Diyarbakır by a government decree issued on Oct. 29, 2016 and that neither an investigation nor a case had been launched against him.

Danış said he is also sure he was fired for being the brother of an HDP deputy but added that he is proud to be Bektaş’s brother.

“Meral is a source of pride for me. She is a really good human rights and women’s rights activist,” said the brother, adding that he was actually sorry for his patients. (SCF with &

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