Mikdad Bedirxan published a newspaper in Arabic entitled ”Kurdistan” in Cairo on 22 April in 1898, this day now marks “Kurdish Journalism Day”. After 31 published issues, the publication life of “Kurdistan” ended in 1902, but the tradition survived up to date.
123rd Kurdish Journalism Day marks the 123 years of Kurdish media struggle with dozens of Kurdish journalists having been killed, tortured and arrested.
Kurdish media also faces political oppression and continous attempts to silence it with never ending legal attacks. Journalists working for free Kurdish media organs face numerous lawsuits and charges of “terrorism” based on their journalistic work in Turkey.
There are still so many Kurdish journalists imprisoned in Turkey’s prisons for their writings.
Kurdish journalist Sadiye Eser expresses that she and her friends have been facing pressure for a long time.
“Just like the ones before us, we will continue the legacy of Musa Anter and Gurbetelli Ersöz.”
“The only place where the Kurds can reflect the cruelty and violation of their rights is through the Kurdish media. For this reason, journalism stands as an important point for the Kurds,” Eser said in an interview with Mesopotamia Agency. ”Our friends were jailed because they reported the torture of two Kurdish villagers, who were thrown from helicopter in Van. Kurds are always subjected to persecution in some way and there is almost no press agency that has the courage to publish the news, like the Kurdish press does’.”
Eser stressed that Kurdish media’s quest is for the “truths” that are not reported by the main stream media organs in Turkey.
”The rulers do not want the violations of rights to be reported in the news. In the 1990s, Kurdish journalists were killed because of their news and newspaper buildings were attacked, even burned down,” Eser said. “At the point we are at today, maybe we are not murdered, as easily anymore, but we are faced with censorship, website attacks and imprisonment.”
Regardless of the repression, Eser underlined, the Kurdish media has come to this day with its resistance.’ Underlining that they will never stop writing the facts, Eser said, ”When the Özgür Gündem newspaper was closed, the headline the next day is ‘We will not bow down’. Just like the ones before us, we will continue the legacy of Musa Anter and Gurbetelli Ersöz.”
“Some Turkish media organs, mainly represents the ‘mainstream left’ and looks down at the Kurdish media from above and with arrogance.”
”Free media workers are forced to pay the price of conveying the truth, because the facts disturb the government,” said Gülcan Dereli, editor of Yeni Yaşam Newspaper.
Dereli underlined the importance of journalism for the Kurds recalling the curfews in Diyarbakır’s (Amed) Sur district in 2015. ”Sur district was destroyed and thousands of citizens were forcibly displaced. If all those had happened in Istanbul, the media outlets would have covered the events. However, if a place populated by the Kurds is in question, it is ignored. That is why the free Kurdish media is vital for the Kurds,” Dereli said.
Kurdish media becomes the voice of not only the Kurds, Dereli pointed out, “but also of other oppressed communities, minorities, workers, women, ecologists and many other segments of society in Turkey.”
Another interesting phenomenon addressed by Dereli which shows how the Kurdish media represents “others” is how the Kurdish media is not only ignored by the main stream Turkish media organs, but also by the alternative media outlets who are deemed to be on the “left”.
“Some Turkish media organs, mainly represents the ‘mainstream left’ and looks down at the Kurdish media from above and with arrogance,” Dereli added. ‘Despite all, we continue our tradition. ‘We have inhereted our profession from Gurbetelli Ersöz and Musa Anter’, which we deem as our values and we will not be intimidated.”