Turkish government has detained numbers of pro-Kurdish and leftist journalists in Ankara province including Sibel Yükler, Duygu Erol, Habibe Eren from Jinnews and Diren Yurtsever and Selman Güzelyüz from Mezopotamya news agency on early Friday during police raids against journalists’ houses.
Following the raids to their homes and searches police teams have taken the journalists to medical checks and later transferred to theCounter-Terrorism Unit of Ankara Police Department.
Police had also raided Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporters’ homes in İstanbul on Thursday and detained the reporters and their press cards were also reportedly burned by police.
ETHA has demanded the authorities on Friday to release its staff İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan who were detained on Thursday. The two journalists were among 16 people detained on Thursday morning in İstanbul. ETHA said in a written statement that “The police with snow mask storming in the house of our employees wrote ‘Grey Wolves were here’ on the walls of the house just like done in the wake of the massacres in Sur, Nusaybin, Cizre district in southeast Anatolia. They plundered the house and burned their press card.”
Underlining that a house raids were also conducted on the employees of JinNews and Mezopotamya news agency and five journalists were detained, ETHA has stated that “They, just like all illegitimate political authorities, want to silence the media outlets and their employees who voice the demands of the oppressed.”
Sixteen people including İsminaz Temel, Havva Cuştan, Meral Tatar, Erkan Kahça, Nihat Göktaş, Mehmet Aslan, İlhan Aslan and Özgen Sadet were detained in an operation carried out in Thursday morning. Bianet reported that 20 houses were raided during the police operations. Two lawyers and two journalists were among the detainees.
Meanwhile, veteran journalist Tuğrul Eryılmaz was given a suspended jail sentence of 15 months and TL 6,000 in fine over his participation in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily. The sentence was reportedly suspended by the court
The Özgür Gündem daily was earlier accused of promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and shut down by the government. Several intellectuals and journalists stood in as the symbolic editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish daily in solidarity with the paper as its editor was imprisoned even before the closure. Eryılmaz is one of the people who managed the daily for a day as a show of solidarity against Erdoğan regime’s suppression targeting the Özgür Gündem daily.
Kurdish journalist and writer Çetin was also detained after police raided his house in Diyarbakır early on Friday. He was taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department as part of an investigation into the DTK, the Evrensel daily reported. The DTK was the largest political forum held by Kurdish nongovernmental organizations in the recent past and was attended by a number of Kurdish intellectuals, journalists and politicians.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 259 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of October 17, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 235 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.