Imprisoned Kurdish journalists Safiye Alağaş, Neşe Toprak, Remziye Temel and Elif Üngür have launched a hunger strike to protest against degrading and inhumane treatment at the hands of Turkish prison authorities, reported Bianet.
Twenty-one journalists, including staff members of the Kurdish-focused Mezopotamya News and the all-female Jin News agencies were detained after late-night raids on 8 June in Diyarbakır (Amed), the largest city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. Sixteen of them have been formally charged, and Jin News reported that their offices were also raided and their computers confiscated.
Following eight days of police custody in solitary confinement and a full day of questioning at the prosecutor’s office, the sixteen journalists were sent to prison by a court order to await trial.
Four of the women journalists facing trial, Safiye Alağaş, Neşe Toprak, Remziye Temel and Elif Üngür, started a hunger strike on Tuesday to draw attention to their ill-treatment by the prison authorities.
The strike will last for five days and was launched to oppose a range of measures taken by the prison authorities, including camera surveillance inside the wards of the women’s closed prison, the use of strip searches on prisoners, the mistreatment of sick prisoners and the preventions of social activities.
The Turkish authorities continue to attract international condemnation for targeting the country’s journalists with repressive measures.
The International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalists’ organisation representing 600,000 journalists from 187 organisations in about 140 countries, called for the immediate release of the 21 Kurdish journalists after they were detained in June.
This year’s Press Freedom Prize, awarded by the Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC), went to the 16 journalists who were formally charged after their arrest.