Turkish prison guards force journalist Acar to undergo barber’s shears

Guards forced journalist Cihan Acar, who has been behind bars in Silivri Prison since July 29, 2016, to get a haircut against his will, the Evrensel daily reported on Tuesday.

Mustafa Söğütlü, lawyer for the journalist, told Evrensel that Acar, who has not shaved for a year in protest of his arrest, was taken by guards to the prison barber. Acar did not resist, thinking it would be a symbolic haircut. When he learned his hair would be totally cut off, Acar objected, but four or five guards forced him to undergo the cut.

Calling the situation torture of the journalist, Söğütlü said he would take the case to court.

Twenty-one journalists including Acar, who had been in pretrial detention for eight months and were to be released pending trial on March 31, were arrested again on April 1, without ever having been freed.

Acar was rearrested with five other journalists for allegedly “attempting to destroy the constitutional order and topple the government.”

A recently released quarterly press report by the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) revealed that 318 journalists were detained and 103 of them were jailed in Turkey over the past year.

Assessing the state of the media in Turkey in a report on the occasion of the first anniversary of a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) concluded that Turkish journalism is in its death throes because Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government has used a state of emergency, declared after the failed coup, to step up a witch-hunt against critics.

“The state of emergency declared five days after the coup attempt has allowed the government to summarily close dozens of media outlets. And Turkey, which is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, is now the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, with more than 100 detained,” said RSF.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has also documented that 272 journalists are now in jails as of July 26, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 248 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 109 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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