Turkish state closes largest Kurdish daily newspaper

The voice of the Kurds and democrats Ozgur Gundem has been closed down.

Özgür-GündemThe daily newspaper Ozgur Gundem, known for its publications on the Kurdish question and democracy in Turkey, has been closed down by the AKP government today (16/08/2016). Ozgur Gundem was formed in 30 May,1992, and was first shut down on 14 April, 1994. Many of its issues have been confiscated, its workers have been arrested and heavy fines have been issued to Ozgur Gundem. 70 of its workers have been extra-judicially killed by the state. The journalists kept on going. They formed many newspapers under different names, all of which were subjected to attacks, suppression and closures.

The regional offices in Istanbul and Ankara of Ozgur Ulke – A newspaper formed on the same editorial line as Ozgur Gundem – were simultaneously bombed on 3 December, 1994. These attacks were centrally conducted by the state. In these attacks, Ersin Yildiz, who was a distributor, was killed and 23 journalists were injured. Years later, documents were leaked implicating then Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, as the instigator of the attacks. According to the official minutes of the Turkish Parliamentary Commission on the Research of Coups, Ciller is said to have signed an official document on 30 November, 1994, declaring “an efficient struggle must be deployed against all publications supporting terrorism, especially Ozgur Ulke”. A few days later the attacks happened.

Ozgur Gundem restarted its publications on 4 April, 2011, after a 17-year gap. The attacks, however, have always continued. Still, issues were being confiscated, fines were being handed out and hundreds of workers were still being persecuted, arrested and imprisoned. Tens of its workers are still in prisons across the country today.

On 20 June, 2016, The Turkey Representative of Journalists Without Borders, Erol Onderoglu, The Turkish Human Rights Foundation Chairperson, Professor Sebnem Korur and writer Ahmet Nesin were arrested for taking part in the solidarity campaing for Ozgur Gundem.

As if these were not enough, today (16/08/2016) the newspaper was closed down completely. This subject is not only limited to Ozgur Gundem. All opposition media are victims of this suppression. It is not possible to speak of a free press in Turkey.

The attacks of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP are reminiscent of the attacks of the 90s. With these measures, Erdogan is surpassing Tansu Ciller and the leader of the 1980 coup, Kenan Evren. Erdogan is becoming a despotic leader of the Middle East like Assad.

We strongly condemn the closure of Ozgur Gundem and other oppsotion media.

We call upon all media institutions, the UN, the EU, the EC and all international organisations to raise their voices and call a halt to Erdogan and his government.

KNK Executive Council