Dozens of Kurdish journalists imprisoned in Turkey said they will continue their pursuit of truth and defence of the “honour of journalism”, in a message they shared in celebration of 10 January Working Journalists Day.
Journalists’ rights were won in 1962, and have been under target since then, Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) Chairman Serdar Altan said in a message he sent from prison via his family.
“Suppression of our gains, arrests, censorship and rights violations have never stopped. That is why we take 10 January as a day of resistance,” Mezopotamya Agency cited Altan as saying.
“Governments have tried everything to stop us, journalists who insist on telling the truth. They did it by murdering members of the Free Press on the streets during the 1990s, and when that failed, they now try via courts,” Altan said. “We have yet to take any step back.”
Altan was arrested on 8 June, alongside 15 colleagues, on trumped-up terrorism charges that were made public via state-run media outlets instead of a court.
“Turkey tops the lists for highest number of journalists behind bars. It would be unthinkable that the Free Press would not receive its share,” reporters and editors of Mezopotamya Agency and women-run Jin News said in their joint message. “We are journalists. We will continue to pursue the truth. It makes no difference to a journalist where they are. We will continue to do journalism anywhere, and uphold the professional honour of journalism.”
The message was signed by Mezopotamya editor-in-chief Diren Yurtsever and reporters Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Emrullah Acar, Hakan Yalçın and Selman Güzelyüz as well as Jin News reporters Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer.
With the arrest of 25 Kurdish journalists in the second half of 2022, Turkey ranks as the fourth “worst offender” for press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in its December report. “Turkey’s independent media remain decimated by government shutdowns, takeovers, and the forcing of scores of journalists into exile or out of the profession,” the watchdog said, adding that the increasing arrests “could signal a fresh assault on press freedom ahead of next year’s elections”.