A group of defence lawyers affiliated with the Istanbul Bar Association issued a press release in front of the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) Courthouse on 29 December in order to support journalists who are detained in the context of the trial related to the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK). The KCK was founded by Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the armed outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The lawyers submitted a bill of exception with regard to the detention of the journalists.
During the press release, the lawyers held up posters with the photographs of 36 journalists who were taken into custody on 20 December and arrested on 24 December. The lawyers were supported by deputies Sebahat Tuncel, Halil Aksoy, Erol Dora and Hüsamettin Zenderlioğlu of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the party's provincial chairs.
"Investigation full of defamation and set ups"
The press release was read out by defence lawyer Emine Şeker. It was stated that the investigation was unlawful since the news sources of the press workers and the news they made were specified as criminal offences. The lawyers claimed that the special authority prosecution carried out a fictional and defaming investigation by making up a secret witness.
It was said that the journalists were detained on the grounds of fulfilling their duty of journalism and because they told the truth. "The prime minister insulted the journalists and columnists. He tried to silence the whole press and by instructing the special authority prosecutors he tried to silence the ones who would not shut up", the lawyers criticized.
"First the political representatives of the people were arrested, then their lawyers and now the people's news sources. The anger of the power on the opposition is being carried on with operations of political genocide. Looking at the grave announcements of the Ministry of the Interior, it is now the turn of artists and university students", the lawyers stated and demanded the end of unjust detentions.
Lawyers submitted bill of exception
The appeal submitted to court by the lawyers was addressed to the Ministry of Justice and petitioned for the release of the detained journalists.
Tuncel, independent Istanbul deputy of the Labour and Democracy Block, emphasized in her speech that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was continuing its policies of assimilation. "The AKP say we are not going to return to the 1990s, yet the injustice experienced in the 1990s is currently being carried on. Minister of the Interior İdris Şahin presents the real ideology and ideas of the AKP to us in his statements", Tuncel said.
She claimed that intellectual parts of the society were tried to be oppressed by the trial held under the name of the KCK. Tuncel put forward that the bill of exception submitted to court was aimed at drawing attention to the silencing of the free press and at the continuation of press freedom.
"The concept of 'terrorist' is not that wide. People began to wonder what to do", Tuncel continued and said that 5,000 people were being detained in the scope of the KCK trial. She underlined that nobody could speak of freedom and democracy in such an environment. (SM/HK)
* Photograph: Sercan Meriç
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