Aziz Oruç, a journalist who has been under arrest for 277 days, will appear before the judge on 21 September. Amid statements from journalism unions demanding his release, Oruç, who sent a message from prison, drew attention to the importance of solidarity: “We are going through a rough period here with the coronavirus, and our families are out there, our profession, our camera. We feel the loneliness and pain. We want this to be known, and we want you to hear us”.
Oruç was arrested and sent to Patnos Type L Prison after being detained in the Doğubayazıt district of Ağrı in December 2019. His second hearing will be held at Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court on September 21.
Journalists Union of Turkey: Journalism is not a Crime
Journalists Union of Turkey President Gökhan Durmuş says that Aziz Oruç has been isolated and deprived of his freedom for the last nine months. “Even though he has said at every opportunity that he doesn’t do anything other than journalism, Aziz Oruç has not been released despite the lack of evidence against him. This detention, which has now turned into a punishment, must come to an end. I believe the court committee will end this punishment in this hearing. Journalism, as we always say, is not a crime. Informing the public and bringing the facts to the public should no longer be seen as a crime.”
Disk Press Union: We hope that he will be released at this hearing
Stating that Oruç is one of the hundreds of journalists held in prison, DİSK Press Union President Faruk Eren says that Oruç is the victim of an international crime. “After being tortured Oruç was sent to Iran, where a person can easily be executed. He was dumped half naked at the Iran border. He is being held in prison for months now. Journalists are being accused of membership of ‘terrorist’ organizations and spying with no evidence against them. Hundreds of our colleagues are in prison or standing trial with these accusations. We hope that he will be released at this hearing. We are in solidarity with him and all imprisoned journalists. Journalism is not a crime”.
Renan Akyavaş, Press Freedom Program Officer of the International Press Institute (IPI), said: “This is yet another trial against journalists on ‘terrorism-related charges’, this time with Aziz Oruç, a former reporter from the now-closed Dicle News Agency (DIHA) on the dock. While IPI does not have access to the indictment in this case, Oruç was reportedly under immense legal pressure, which prompted his attempt to flee to Europe. In Turkey, journalists, especially Kurdish journalists, are regularly subject to misuse of anti-terror law to silence journalistic activity. Many of these journalists denied the right to a fair trial. Oruç, who has been in prison since December 2019, should be released in this next hearing without further delay and should be granted the right to a fair trial under proper conditions without the intimidation of pretrial detention”.
“We are calling on our colleagues to support Aziz”
Stating that all of Oruç’s files for which he was tried and acquitted were put together in a single file, Oruç’s attorney Erhan Çiftçier said: “There is no organisational evidence regarding Aziz’s capture in Doğubayazıt. Oruç is being held in prison unlawfully, and we expect his release at this hearing. We call on all of our colleagues to make a speak out on this this conspiracy against Aziz”.
Oruç’s wife Hülya Oruç said: “I expect to hear Aziz will be free on Monday. The real struggle will begin then. I hope that Aziz will be out with his cameras for this struggle. I expect everyone to support us on Monday.”
Aziz Oruc’s Message
The message Oruç sent via his wife before the hearing is as follows: “Everyone knows that journalists are under pressure in Turkey. Everyone who writes or speaks is under great pressure. I want to emphasise the importance of solidarity here. I believe that journalists in prison and journalists outside should be in solidarity. As long as there is solidarity, I think those who are imprisoned can be released and heard. There was some good news last week. The release of Barış Pehlivan, Murat Ağırel and Hülya Kılınç was a promising development in terms of freedom of expression in Turkey. We have to make this hope grow further. It is important in terms of the future of this country and freedom of expression. It is a difficult period because of the new coronavirus. Our families are out there, our profession, our camera. We feel the loneliness and pain. We want this to be known, and we want you to hear us. The new coronavirus has hit both Turkey and all the other countries hard. Every day people are dying from this disease; they cannot get out of their homes. Now think of the prisons. We can only make one phone call a week as part of the measures taken against the outbreak. There is no other platform that our voice can reach out there. That’s why the outside of this place means a lot to us. It is important to be out, to continue our work as journalists, use our cameras, and be with our families and children. I wish all journalists in prisons to be released as soon as possible. And for this, we have to be in solidarity. I am sending my regards to all those who support us, from my prison cell in Patnos Prison. I am glad to have you with me. I am glad you are in solidarity with us. I believe that we will overcome these days together”.