Employees of Günlük and Azadiya Welat newspapers, the Fırat Distribution Company and the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) released a press statement in the place of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) to draw public attention to the oppression they have been facing throughout the past couple of months when they were covering different incidents.
In the meeting on Wednesday (21 July), the Ankara correspondent of Günlük newspaper, Hüseyin Aykol, pointed out that the "customs of a free press" encountered various forms of harassment during the first six month of 2010. He furthermore said that the publication of the Azadiya Welat daily was suspended twice during this period of time for 30 days each.
The press conference was attended by many journalists, among them DİHA reporters Ömer Çelik, Çağdaş Kaplan and İsmail Eskin who were attacked twice in the recent past, human rights advocator and representative of attacked journalists Eren Keskin, Günlük newspaper general publication director Filiz Koçalı and writer Yılmaz Sezgin.
"Journalists pay the pricef for the Kurdish Question"
"Despite talks about a [democratic] opening, the Tradition of the Free Press is among those who pay the price for the Kurdish question", Aykol said and summarized the attacks against employees of the participating media organizations during the last six months as follows:
Metin Alataş, working for the Azadiya Welat newspaper in Adana, was found hung in a tree on 4 April.
On 14 June, DİHA reporter Ersin Çelik received a prison sentence of six years and three months. He was tried with another 30 defendants who were alleged members of the Patriotic Democratic Youth.
On 20 May, DİHA reporter Murat Altunöz was refused permission to cover a boycott action organized by the Students Association of the Mustafe Kemal University in Hatay (eastern Mediterranean coast). He was made to enter the car of plainclothes gendarmerie officers who tried to seize Altınöz's camera.
DİHA reporter Pınar Ural was attacked by unidentified persons in a public bus after she had covered an event on 17 May.
On 25 May, DİHA reporter Ömer Çelik was attacked by a group calling themselves "idealists" (üklücü) in reference to the "Grey Wolves", an ultra-nationalist and neo fascist youth organization of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of nationalist people. Çelik's left arm got broken in the attack.
DİHA reporters Çağdaş Kaplan and İsmail Eskin were attacked by a group of people after covering a press release of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on 18 July. Eskin suffered two cracks in his head. His camera was seized by the attackers.
Vedat Kurşun, former editor-in-chief of Azadiya Welat newspaper, was handed down a prison sentence of 166 years and six months in the hearing on 13 May.
Ozan Kılınç, former concessionaire of the Azadiya Welat daily, received a prison sentence of 21 years and three months in February this year.
Bedri Aandır, owner of Aram Publishing and chief editor of the Hawar newspaper, is facing imprisonment of up to 50 years. The case is still pending.
Aykol: The only exception to the ban is due to the prosecutor's forgetfulness
The publication of the weekly Yorum newspaper is suspended on a weekly basis, Akyol stated. "Probably, only the forgetfulness of the prosecutor can be a reason for an exception not to ban the newspaper. The weekly Özgür Görüş newspaper, comprising eight pages in total, was banned for news printed on page nine", Akyol said and emphasized, "We are on the job despite all physical and legal attacks". (EÖ/VK)