Journalists, unions stand watch for jailed colleagues in Turkey

Journalists, unions stand watch for jailed colleagues in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Journalists, unions stand watch for jailed colleagues in Turkey

Six of the arrested journalists’ stories were read out loud during the protests yesterday. The protest will last for a month in front of Çağlayan courthouse. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Dozens of journalists and activists came together before an Istanbul court to “act as witnesses to the innocence” of imprisoned journalists yesterday.

The Freedom for Journalists Platform has begun a campaign called “witness days” for imprisoned journalists in Turkey. A group of journalists will tell “stories of the innocence of jailed journalists” in front of Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse every day.

Ercan İpekçi, the head of the Journalists’ Union of Turkey, said the demonstration will last for one month. The group will gather in the afternoon everyday outside the court where their colleagues were tried to speak on the innocence of the journalists, İpekçi said.

“The Turkish Parliament has first raised our hopes and then dashed them in the past year. They have distracted society’s attention from this crucial subject by changing agendas with lies and defamation. We are tired of this,” İpekçi told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey needs to abolish the sixth and seventh articles of its Anti-Terrorism Law, according to İpekçi. The controversial Article 6 forbids the announcement of the acts of terrorist organizations, and is open to broad interpretation. “Those who print or publish leaflets and declarations of terrorist organizations shall be sentenced to from one to three years in prison,” it reads. The seventh article outlines penalties for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

According to the union’s records there are 102 journalists now behind bars in Turkey, of whom 22 are women.

Mehmet Gelturan, an editor from the prominent Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda) said most of the jailed press members were of Kurdish origin. “Nine of my colleagues were arrested, and most of the imprisoned journalists are Kurdish as everyone knows. We will lend our support to the union, but we are not leading the demonstration, because the common point for all unions and newspapers is the injustice we all face,” he said.