The International Press Institute (IPI) called today for the immediate release of 15 Kurdish journalists and one media worker arrested on June 16 on terrorism-related charges in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. Due to restrictions imposed on the case file, case details and accusations against journalists remain unclear. However, local news reported that prosecutors questioned the journalists about “news content, publishing policies and news language”.
On June 8, at least 22 people, 19 of whom were reportedly journalists working for several news outlets including Mesopotamia News Agency and JINNEWS, were detained during simultaneous raids on their homes and offices. Police confiscated journalists’ cameras and other equipment. Amongst those arrested are Jin News Managing Editor Safiye Alagaş; Dicle Fırat Journalists Association Co-Chair Serdar Altan; Mesopotamia News Agency editors Aziz Oruç and Ömer Çelik; and Xwebûn Managing Editor Mehmet Ali Ertaş. According to news reports, camera operators Esmer Tunç, Mehmet Yalçın, and Kadir Bayram and JINNEWS editor Gülşen Koçuk were released under judicial control after eight days in detention.
Protests organized by local journalism groups erupted as a response to the journalists’ detention have spread to several cities in Turkey. IPI Turkey Programme Coordinator Renan Akyavas attended a demonstration on June 23 in Istanbul organized by Dicle Firat Journalists Association (DFGD) and Mesopotamia Female Journalists Platform (MKGP) where local groups read a joint press release in Turkish and Kurdish calling for the journalists’ immediate release.