Police raid houses of Özgür Gündem writers, detains journalists in Istanbul
AFP photoPolice have staged raids on the houses of several writers for daily Özgür Gündem after detaining up to 24 journalists in a raid on the newspaper on Aug. 16 that followed the paper’s “temporary” closure.
Police raided the houses of columnists and managers of Özgür Gündem, including Aslı Erdoğan, Ragıp Zarakolu, Eren Keskin, who is the former co-editor-in-chief of the daily, and Filiz Koçali. Erdoğan was detained late on Aug. 16 at her home.
“I protest this barbaric behavior. I’ve never seen such a disgrace,” Zarakolu wrote on his Facebook account.
“When I was in Diyarbakır, masked special forces raided and searched my house. My 85-year-old mother was afraid,” Keskin said on her Twitter account.
Police raided the building of Özgür Gündem on Aug. 16 after it was “temporarily” shut down for conducting alleged propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The editor-in-chief of the daily, correspondents from imc TV and Dicle News Agency (DİHA) were among those detained.
The anti-terror police blocked entrances and exits to the building during the raid and a brawl erupted inside between the police and the journalists.
The decision of closure, the raid and detentions were met with criticism from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“It was seen countless times that you can’t solve any problems by shutting a daily down. Newspapers should be free to express their thoughts as long as they don’t promote terror and violence,” CHP lawmaker Barış Yarkadaş said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) and DİSK Basın-İş, the press workers’ union of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), also criticized the decision to shut the paper down.
“Just like they want a single nation, they also want a single media,” DİSK Basın-İş Chair Faruk Eren said outside Özgür Gündem, criticizing the raids against the paper.
“We call on authorities to release all of the journalists taken into custody and allow the newspaper to publish freely,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said.