As 20 Kurdish journalists who were arrested on Wednesday in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır (Amed) remain in custody five days after their arrest, some are beginning to protest against the resounding silence from other journalists and even some international press freedom organisations.
The prominent Turkish journalist Can Dündar, who has been living as a political exile in Germany for 16 years, has released a video to express his dismay at indifference from colleagues in the face of Kurdish journalists being targeted by mass arrests in this way.
“If the offices of six media outlets and the homes of over 20 journalists had been stormed in dawn raids and journalists had been arrested and locked up in cells in any western part of the country, for instance Istanbul or Ankara, it would at least elicit some reaction, wouldn’t it? But there was very little noise when this happened in Diyarbakır. We know why, or we can at least guess. Some think that the Kurdish media is inherently criminal, some believe that there must be a reasonable explanation for it, some consider the Kurdish media extreme even if they do not blame them, some prefer to remain silent because they’re afraid. However, when we look at the accusations levelled against them, we see that none of the journalists are accused of any armed offences. The only thing that they have done is to report, ask questions, and write articles. Well, maybe these are reports, questions and articles that the government does not like, but then, do we have to get their approval?”
“They are familiar with this kind of oppression. They have always worked under threat from the state; they have heard their doors being knocked on, or rather, broken in at dawn, especially when they have done reports on the domestic or cross border operations of the state. These recent arrests are nothing new. But the silence of their colleagues must be more hurtful than the raids themselves.”
The names of the Kurdish journalists in custody are:
Serdar Altan (co-chair of Dicle-Fırat Journalists’ Associaton), Safiye Alagaş (Direcor of Jin News), Mehmet Ali Ertaş (Executive Editor of Xwebûn), Gülşen Koçuk (editor at Jin News), Aziz Oruç (editor at Mezopotamya News Agency), reporters Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Esmer Tunç, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, Remziye Temel, Mehmet Yalçın, Lezgin Akdeniz, Kadir Bayram, Ramazan Geciken, İbrahim Koyuncu, Abdurrahman Öncü
A man by the name of Feynaz Koçuk, who is not a journalist, is also among the detainees.