Scribe roundup stirs backlash

Scribe roundup stirs backlash

ISTANBUL / ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Scribe roundup stirs backlash

Colleagues and friends of recently detained journalist march in central Istanbul. AA photo

The recent detention of journalists in the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case stirred fury across Turkey yesterday as their colleagues, friends and media groups staged nationwide protests.

“This is a novel type of terrorism called the KCK operations. [They] are trying to silence the press that is presenting the voice of the Kurds. We will be waiting for their release for as long as they remain in custody,” according to a press statement issued yesterday by nearly 20 journalists. 

Demonstrators who staged a rally in front of the Istanbul Police Department in Fatih district said they were going to hold a sit-down protest between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

“This sit-down event bears a great significance as a [form of] democratic opposition. We now have to be the voice of the detained journalists. The Kurdish issue cannot be solved through operations against journalists or politicians. What we need is more negotiations and democracy,” said Sebahat Tuncel, an Istanbul deputy of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is primarily focused on the Kurdish issue. 

On Dec. 20, police raided the offices of news agencies and newspapers in seven provinces and detained 58 people, most of them journalists, as part of the KCK case.

Meanwhile, the international community has also taken note of the detentions, with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) saying it was alarmed by the detentions. 
“Although governments have an unquestioned right to fight terrorism, it should be carried out without silencing the press and curbing the public’s right to be informed,” said the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic. 

A written statement issued by Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir, the co-leaders of Germany’s Green Party, also called the KCK operations worrying and unacceptable. 
“The Turkish police keep carrying out the same kind of operations against journalists, searches that flout the right to the confidentiality of sources, mass arrests and confiscation of computers and articles as evidence,” the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said in relation to the detentions.

One of the detainees, police reporter Çağdaş Ulus, had already gone through rigorous security checks and investigations to be allowed to conduct his profession, indicating it was unlikely for him to be involved in such relations, said Mustafa Mutlu, a columnist for daily Vatan, where Ulus is also employed. 

Meanwhile, BDP co-leader Gülten Kışanak said the government was waging an “all-out war” against the pillars of democratic society.

“We are facing an all-out war against students, women, unionists, journalists, lawyers and all social dynamics of society,” she said at the BDP Academy in Ankara. 

“We are going through a process in which they seek to suppress democratic life and win the upper hand for a mentality of authoritarian governance,” she added. 

Demonstrators in Ankara and Istanbul also poured out onto the streets on Dec. 20 to protest the most recent detentions. 

The KCK is accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is itself listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.