Scores of journalist nabbed in KCK case
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Agence France-Presse photographer Mustafa Özer is among 38 people who were detained across Turkey for alleged links with an outlawed organization. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELPolice yesterday raided the offices of news agencies and newspapers as well as the houses of some journalists in seven provinces, taking at least 38 people into custody in a probe into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).
The addresses in Istanbul, Mersin, Diyarbakır, Van, Şırnak, Ankara and İzmir were raided early in the morning. Suspects were detained on grounds that they were members of the outlawed KCK’s media and propaganda team.
The offices of Etkin News Agency (ETHA), pro-Kurdish news establishments Dicle News Agency (DİHA) and daily Özgür Gündem were a few of the raided locations. Police also raided a tent used as a newsroom by DİHA in the quake-stricken Van province, seized all computer hard disks and detained DİHA reporter Evrim Kepenek.
Twenty journalists were detained, including Agence France-Presse photographer Mustafa Özer and daily Vatan reporter Çağdaş Ulus, daily BirGün reporter Zeynep Kuray, ETHA editor Arzu Demir and daily Evrensel reporter Hüseyin Deniz.
The detentions sparked prompt protest from the suspects’ colleagues and journalist organizations.
“There were 66 journalists behind bars yesterday. This number was raised to 100 today,” Derya Okatan, an Özgür Gündem employee, told a group of demonstrators who gathered in front of the daily’s Istanbul office yesterday to protest the raids. “We know those friends who are in custody now will be arrested just like the other KCK suspects. This is not ‘advanced democracy.’”
Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) official Filiz Koçali said during the demonstration that the operations were a reflection of the AKP’s oppression of the media.
“First they targeted Kurdish politicians, then they arrested lawyers and now the target is journalists,” she said.
“These operations are double-sided: Firstly raids are political and secondly freedom of press is at stake. International institutions say ‘Turkey is alarming,’ but let them know the truth, do not keep silent. The AKP mentality has taken control of all media and has been pressuring those which it cannot control. They are trying to silence the journalists by detaining them,” she said.
ETHA editor Demir was taken from her home in the morning and her computers were seized by the police, Demir’s lawyer Sema Tarhan told the Hürriyet Daily News. She could not give details due to a measure by the prosecutor’s office.
Head of Human Rights Association (IHD) Öztürk Türkdoğan said yesterday this was the second round of the oppression process that began in 2009 under the aegis of the judiciary and specially authorized prosecutors. Türkdoğan added that Turkey had no freedom of press.
Metin Bakkalcı, secretary-general of the Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), said 5,000 people were under arrest as part of the KCK operations. “Randomly raid 5,000 houses; I assure you that you will find guns and bombs there but, as you know, police could not find one single weapon in the raids,” he said in a report on the Internet portal bianet.org. “This is a game against people using their democratic rights.”