On 8 June, 21 people including 20 Kurdish journalists were taken into custody in dawn raids on their homes in the city of Diyarbakır; a city where a vibrant network of Kurdish news outlets report day and night on news stories that get largely ignored, censored or distorted by mainstream Turkish media platforms, upwards of 90 percent of which are under government control.
The journalists’ solitary confinement conditions in police custody have finally ended after eight days, and they have been referred to court, where a judge will ultimately make the decision whether to send them to prison.
Their lawyers have told reporters that searches at the homes and offices of those arrested continued throughout their detention.
Kurdish journalists in Turkey have fought for legitimacy and for the very ability to be able to report the truth for decades, going back to the 1980s, while making profound sacrifices for each advancement. At great cost, they have achieved more visibility and legitimacy.
They have worked tirelessly to reveal the truth that the Turkish state would rather not have spoken of and have challenged the state’s distortions and misinformation that are used to further justify state repression.
Too many have been abducted, jailed, beaten, tortured and even killed, especially in the years following the 1980 coup and in the height of conflict in Kurdish cities and provinces in the 1990s. One notable example is that of Musa Anter, a legendary truth-teller who was taken by a death squad and murdered in cold blood in Diyarbakir (Amed) in 1993.
Dozens more journalists from the legendary newspaper Özgür Gündem who were killed in the same way, but who managed to pave the way for other journalists to follow, also come to mind.
Decades on in the struggle for the truth, Kurdish journalists working under the harshest of conditions and circumstances are once again being targeted, at a time when all believed the worst was over.
We strongly condemn the Turkish authorities’ latest attack on Kurdish journalists, while knowing all too well that mere words will have no impact on the official policies of violence and repression.
Still, we stand with our colleagues, shoulder to shoulder.
We are calling on all fellow journalists, all human rights defenders, and all who believe that the truth is precious to stand in solidarity with all journalists facing such repression, and to defend independent journalism together.
To report on the arrests, the show trials that will no doubt follow and to raise awareness within journalistic organisations and unions. To demand their freedom. Their physical freedom and their right of freedom of expression.
We as the Medya News family demand the immediate and unconditional dropping of all fabricated charges and the release of our colleagues, after this brutal and blatant political attempt to disrupt the flow of information from Turkey’s Kurdish-majority provinces, at a time when the Turkish state are intensifying repression against the Kurds and launching yet more racist wars against Kurdish freed areas such as Rojava.
Free journalism is needed more than ever before and we are confident it will prevail with the continued dedication of our colleagues and international solidarity from journalists all over the globe.