HDP calls on int’l community for solidarity after campaigners’ arrests
ANKARAThe co-leaders of Turkey’s Kurdish-problem focused opposition party have called on the international community for solidarity, after two journalists and an academic were arrested on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda by acting as a symbolic co-editor of a pro-Kurdish daily newspaper.
Since a fragile peace process and two-and-a-half-year de facto ceasefire shattered in July 2015, the pressure on daily Özgür Gündem has multiplied, as well as the arrests, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said on June 23.
“This is another violation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey, with which the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] leadership seeks to suppress any democratic opposition to their reign. In light of this latest example of the AKP regime’s unlawful and limitless assault against any form of dissent, we call upon the international public to stand in solidarity with all the forces struggling for democracy and freedom in Turkey,” said Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ.
“Since the negotiations for a democratic and political solution to the Kurdish conflict have been terminated, the pressure on the newspaper staff has increased, as have arrests,” they remarked.
“Since it was founded on May 14, 1992, this newspaper [Özgür Gündem] has been subject to continuous violations of press freedom by all Turkish governments to date because it has been critically reporting on the Kurdish conflict and documenting anti-democratic measures in Turkey,” argued Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, while recalling that in April 1994, the paper was closed down after a court ruling.
The three prominent figures, internationally-acclaimed human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who is the president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and journalist Ahmet Nesin, were arrested on June 20 after supporting a campaign in solidarity with Özgür Gündem, which was started on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.
A total of 44 prominent journalists and thinkers - including Hasan Cemal, Şeyhmus Diken, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Ayşe Düzkan, Can Dündar and İhsan Eliaçık - served as one-day editors-in-chief during the solidarity campaign. Some 37 of them have been investigated so far.