PINAR GAYIP / ETHA KORRESPONDENT
“There are many imprisoned journalists. We must show solidarity to each of our friends, not just to those in sight. Because, we can only survive on the fi eld and in the prisons, where they try to imprison us, only with the spirit of solidarity.”
Actually, it’s hard to tell. Do people get arrested for their news? In Turkey, unfortunately, I am one of the journalists who is made a “member of the organization” by the state due to their news, and who is alleged to be “propagating the organization”. So the state is actually forcing us journalists to fight in
On September 10th, the Turkish Journalists ‘ Union announced that 72 Press employees had been taken prisoner. All the grounds for arrest are news. Because what all the imprisoned journalists care about is reporting the truth and getting it to the public. At this point in Turkey, we are contra-dicting the power. Th ey want to make us pay somehow.
I’ve been working at the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) for years. Instead of being called to testify when the address of my home and workplace was clear, the house where I stayed with my col-league Semiha Shaheen was raided in the middle of the night with long-barreled guns. Th e illegal process continued aft er a week of detention.
Th ey say prison conditions are not good or bad, but in correspondence with my fellow prisoners who are in other prisons, I can say that Bakırköy women’s prison, where I stayed for 14 months, is “the best of the bad.” We were left in prison by the cops in the middle of the night. Th ey wanted to do the naked search app, which we call” thin search.” I think that was the most important moment. Th ey want you to take off your shoes, get completely undressed-they’re doing breech and vagina searches-in some prisons. Of course, we did not agree, we argued that it was an inhumane practice. We knew our rights.
After all, they couldn’t implement it. But we know that there have also been those who have been subjected to this practice.
Prison is a tough area. It is not the wall or iron bars that enslave a person, but their thoughts. Dur-ing the 14 months I was under arrest, I tried to produce myself. In prison, where I was under arrest, there was oft en a ban on newspapers/magazines. It’s so hard because, as a journalist, you’re
faced with not being able to follow the agenda. We were trying to learn something from the limited newspapers by interpreting between the lines, trying to under-stand the facts from comments made on news channels known for their proximity to power. Be-cause we know that their problem was not to convey the facts to the public, but to say what the government wanted.
Compared to many of my colleagues, I had a “lucky” process of captivity. My colleagues outside have never lost their solidarity. Their letters, the news for me/us, the interviews, and the most beautiful thing was to go eye-to-eye with them when I turned around in the courtroom, to feel the warmth of their smiles.
One of the things I oft en expressed when I was in prison was the importance of solidarity. I was one of those arrested journalists who felt solidarity, saw it… But there are a large number of de-tained journalists who are not known what they experienced. We must show solidarity for each of our friends, not just for those in plain sight. Because we can only survive in the spirit of solidarity, both in the field and in the prisons where they are trying to take us prisoner.
Pınar Gayip, a reporter for the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), which broadcasts on socialist lines, spent 14 months in Bakırköy women’s prison. She is currently on trial without arrest and has been barred from leaving Turkey by a court order.