Politicians, media associations and civil society organisations have condemned Tuesday’s dawn police raids on 11 journalists from Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) and Jin News.
Mithat Sancar, co-chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said the detentions of the journalists was no coincidence, given the Turkish government’s recent disinformation law, dubbed a “censorship law” by the country’s opposition.
“It is part of a plan to silence the opposition press and society. It is an attack on the public’s freedom of information,” MA quoted Sancar as saying.
Sancar added that the government would continue these operations to silence society and intimidate the opposition in the run-up to the national elections in 2023.
Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) made a public statement calling on all journalists and professional organisations to condemn the repression of Kurdish journalists and defend Turkey’s freedom of press and expression.
“All our detained colleagues should be released as soon as possible,” the DFG said, adding that Tuesday’s operation held parallels with the oppression of Kurdish journalists during the 1990s.
Özge Yurttaş, a board member of the press syndicate DİSK Basın-İş, warned that anyone who remained silent over these detentions “would be next in line for the state forces to detain.”
The Turkey Journalists Union (TGS) also shared a tweet decrying the raids, calling them an attempt to criminalise journalism.
Journalists from Turkey’s Aegean province of Izmir province called for a united front among journalists against the detention of their colleagues.
Evrensel Newspaper Aegean Representative Özer Özdemir drew attention to the disinformation law approved by the Turkish parliament on 13 October, and Birgün newspaper’s Aegean Region Representative Halil Ertunç noted that the attacks on the opposition media had reached a critical threshold recently.
The Human Rights Association (İHD) issued a press statement regarding the detained journalists. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) also commented on the arrests, which it said were “not an ordinary operation; it is an attack on free press workers.”
The disinformation law tabled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance passed on 5 October is seen by critics as a move to suppress critical journalism and free speech. The ruling party says the law aims to stop the spread of false information.
Turkey was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index.