GÖKHAN DURMUŞ / GENERAL CHAIRMAN OF JOURNALISTS’ UNION OF TURKEY
“Aft er the 2016 coup attempt nearly 200 journalists were arrested. Keeping the number of journalists detained and on trial has become impossible. Those who made these unjust arrests and punishments are free of charge. they continued to lead their lives. This is the main problem in Turkey! “
Turkey’s history is a history full of repressions against the journalists. Unsolved Murders, arrests, detentions… In Turkey there are 67 unidendified journalist murders, as stated in the off icial records. Between 1950-1960, 811 journalists were convicted. 31 journalists were arrested in the 1980 coup, Over 100 journalists were arrested within the scope of KCK and Ergenekon between 2010-2013, and aft er the 2016 coup attempt nearly 200 journalists were arrested.
Keeping the number of journalists detained and on trial has become impossible. Today in Turkey, in 2020 there are still 70 detained journalists in the prisons. 31 journalists were attacked last year. Th e perpetrators of the 11 assaulted journalists were not punished. Periods and policies changed; journalists were released, but the months and years they spent between the four walls were stolen from their lives. Th ose who made these unjust arrests and punishments continued their lives without paying any penalty. Th is is the main problem in Turkey.
The issue that should be highlighted on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, 2 November, is that these penalties were given to journalists within the non-impartial legal system.
The prosecutors who detained journalists with the instructions of the government, and the court committees that arrested them, came to make decisions without taking into consideration the evidence.
If I will explain this with a few examples; Deniz Yücel, Die Welt Turkey correspondent. He spent about 1 year in prison before his indictment was even prepared. Although the court decided to “continue his detention” the day before, with the German Foreign Ministry’s intervention, one day later he was
sent to Germany in a hurry. What about a year that he was kept in isolationin prison? Let’s never ask about it, while at last he’s liberated.
Müyesser Yıldız, Odatv Ankara Representative. She has been detained for over 100 days. Also she’s arrested for a news she didn’t make. Her delict is making phone calls with a news source who obtains information through unlawful listening. Turkey’s public opinion knows that is actually not a crime but she was arrested because the Interior Minister targeted her. We do not know how long she will be deprived of her freedom. Just like she was arrested in 2012 and deprived of her freedom for 16 months. Şahin Alpay, author of Zaman Newspaper. He was arrested in 2016 on the charge of ‘being a member of the FETÖ / PDY terrorist organization’. Despite his advanced age, he stayed in Silivri Prison for 20 months. Şahin Alpay, about whom Constitutional Court ruled that there were two violations of the right to freedom of person and freedom of expression, was released on 17 March 2018 under house arrest. What about 20 month imprisonment that he lives in isolation from his family, friends and the world? Let’s never also ask about it, while at last he’s liberated.
Unfortunately the outlook to the freedom of press and freedom of expression in Turkey for many years like this. Th e journalists who wrote articles that the rulers did not like, and made comments were declared as terrorists, sent to prison and then released without even an apology.
It is not only about the journalists,unfortunately that is not in the Turkey’s genetic to face up to the past and to be accountable. Just as Kenan Evren, the architect of the 1980 coup, passed away without trial, as the ministers who committed corruption stepped aside without being judged…
Just as forgetting the “I will find” promise given by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the Prime Minister of the time, to his Saturday mother Berfo Kırbayır, who has been searching for the bones of her son for 40 years…
We can protect neither democracy nor freedom of press and expression when there is impunity for crimes against journalists and there is no confrontation with the past. It is certain that the governments which cannot confront their pasts and do not admit their mistakes will not benefit this country or the people.