Turkish police bar İstanbul rally to show solidarity with jailed journalists, lawyers

Turkish police have intervened into a protest organised by journalists and lawyers in İstanbul to show solidarity with the jailed journalists and lawyers in Turkey on Saturday.

A group of free journalists has organised a protest under the banner of “We Have a Say” in Kadıköy district of İstanbul. However, İstanbul police have not allowed the group, consists of  journalists, lawyers and academics, to rally to show their solidarity with their imprisoned colleagues.

The group, which has chanted “justice now”, “freedom now, immediately”, “shoulder to shoulder against OHAL (the rule of emergency)”, “Nuriye and Semih are not alone”, has also made a press statement during the demonstration.

It was stated in the statement that “We have a promise to peace, truth and justice. Fascism starts when the freedom of expression is over.” The group has also requested freedom to the imprisoned journalists.

It is said in the statement, read by the journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, that “We pass through difficult times. We know that the most curing medicine of such hard times is to walk together hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder. That is why we resist against all suppressions which aim at reducing our passion for peace and freedom, and to blind our conscience and our sense of justice.”

The statement has been read “By not allowing our loyalty to truth to diminish we are rallying without giving up our promise,” and ended with a call for attendence to the court trials during the month of December.

The protest was participated by journalist and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş, Cumhuriyet daily’s web editor Oğuz Güven, Evrensel daily’s editor-in-chief Fatih Polat and numbers of journalists and lawyers.

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 565 lawyers have been arrested as of November 28, 2017 since July 15, 2016 and 1,448 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-nine lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are  presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 21, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 26 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 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.

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