Dear Pen International Officials,

The Kurds situation and the situation of the journalists and writers in Turkey have come to a level which is very dreadful. We, as Kurdish PEN, would like to inform you about the recent things and ask for your support to end this atmosphere.

Briefly, the recent information is as such:

THE ATTEMPT TO FAIL THE FREEDOM OF THOUGHT IN TURKEY

Throughout Turkey, the detainment, imprisonment and unemployment of the journalists is increasing day by day. The “free pen” rights of many writers are taken from them. Both the journalists and the writers, with psychological pressure, are put between four walls of prisons. Countless times, following the news and journalists has been prevented and their photos and news have been retained by the authorities. On 15 July 2016, the was the attempt of coup in Turkey and since then the state of emergency was announced and after that numerous institution of language, academy, the Kurdish writers Union, the free journalists’ community, TV, radio and etc. have been closed; during this time Kurdish Pen office have been attacked and raided. With all this, the freedom of thought has been weakened coming to the disappearance point. The existing system used the “coup” as an opportunity and nearly the broadcast of ten various democrat and opposing (in opposition) websites have been prevented in Turkey. Every day there is a greater intervention against the freedom thought and opinion. A lot of people expressing their opinions on social media are either threatened, or taken in charge or detained. In Turkey, academics, human rights activists and defenders, journalists, writers, lawyers, artists etc are detained with a racist outlook. One of the very recent situation is the members of music group GRUP YORUM Hêlin Bole and İbrahim Gökçek have died after the hunger strike they started in order to be able to sing their songs freely. And now two lawyers named Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal are on hunger strike (death strike) just for asking for having fair trial and their lives is in danger.

Moreover, in June, among the members of Peace committee of Kurdish Pen, 10 years of imprisonment for Feratê Dengizî, 8 years for Bahaddîn Robar, 7 years for Mîrza Ronî and 7 years for Adîl Başaran gave been given. After arrest of 26 June, many people have been taken in charge and among them was our members such as Adîl Qazî (Adil Ercan)  from writers in Prison committee who is a writer and a translator, Azad Zal (Mehmet Gungormuş) who is the owner and the person in charge of J&J Publication, the writer Mehmet Devîren,  writer Brahîm Xelîl Taş, writer Nesrîn Navdar (Nesrîn Şanli), researcher Suphî Îzol and journalist Ayşe Kara. On 17.07.2020 Azad Zal and journalist Ayşe Güney have been released with ongoing court and trial.

IN 2019 AND 2020 HUNDREDS OF JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN TRIED AND THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARE ON INCREASE AND CONTINUE

In 2019, hundreds of journalists have been questioned, taken under custody and detained in Turkey. Against many journalists have court cases been filed and they have been fined. In accordance with the data by Free Journalist Initiative in 2019, 106 detained journalists were questioned.

In 2020, there was no month in which a journalist was detained. Turkey in 2020 became a prison for journalists again. According to the data by Dîcle and Firat Society, since June 3rd  2020 up to now 97 journalists have been arrested in the Turkey.

The authority which widely and intensively limits and put under its protection TV, agencies, journalists, radio and journals now focuses on controlling social media by new constitutional bylaws which have just been adopted. It is aimed to control the social media which is in opposition be under control and remain silent. This wish has been demanded by President Erdoğan and he announced social media as a “terror area”. If the authorities attain this aim, a new wound will be added to the current problems of free journalism. It is a must that social media remain free and everyone using it should express their thought and opinions freely.

According to the data by Freedom of Thought Society in May 2020, 415000 domain, 140000 link, 42000 tweet, 450 Youtube pages, 7200 twitter account and 6500 Facebook account have been prevented and banned

THE LIFE OF MANY INMATES IS IN DANGER DUE TO CORONA VIRUS

During this time mentioned, the life of a great deal of inmates’ life is in danger due to Corona Virus. After the extraordinary situation of Corona Virus, by enforcing new laws of execution (a new amnesty law) by AKP – MHP, around 90 thousand prisoners detained on account of criminal crimes such as robbery, offense, rape, drug traffic were released. Those resorting to violence have also been released. However, the political detainees, writers, journalists, academics, human rights activist who are in prison have not been released and have been left out of this amnesty law. Therefore, the life of a big majority of those political inmates, journalists and writers are in danger as a result of Corona Virus situation. Besides the danger of Corona Virus, attacks against Kurds are still ongoing. Moreover, in prisons the precautions against Corona Virus have not been taken. It leads to widespread of virus.

458 HEAVY ILL AMONG 1334 ILL INMATE EXIST

According to the data by Human Rights Association there are 1334 ill inmate (patient) 458 of whom are extremely ill. Though many of them have a medical report saying “can’t stay in prison”, the political inmates and the convicted ones are still kept in prison. Many ill prisoners have lost their lives. The number of children staying with their mothers in prisons has reached to 780. Although the Ministry of Justice keeps saying the necessary measures are taken in the framework of Corona Virus, the detained and convicted people express the vice versa and opposite saying “no measures are taken”. Besides the threat of Corona Virus, violation of human rights in prisons with problems such as access to drinking water, the number of people standing up by force, making them walk naked, psychological pressures, sudden attack and control on dormitories, defamation (insult), threat and etc are still exist and continue. Those who resist any violation used by them are described as “terrorist”.

THE KURDISH BOOKS ARE FORBIDDEN

In Turkey, many books of writers have been forbidden. With the allegation of the books are promoting and “doing propaganda of the organization” books by various and different publishing houses have been forbidden. Moreover, some inquires have started about some books and some publishing houses have been fined with different amount of money. With the recent information, 88 books of Aram publishing, 3 of J&J, 1 of Ar, 1 of Name, 4 of Sitav, 12 of Avesta, totally 109 books have been forbidden. The inmates in prisons cannot obtain the books they want. The Kurdish books are particularly forbidden for them. In 2 January 2019, a book by Musa Anter named “Vakayiname” was sent to Nedim Turfent for the Journalism Day. It was not given to him with the reason that it would put the state in danger and create chaos. The writer Musa Anter was slaughtered in September 20, 1992 by the system.

THE JOURNALISM IS ON THE VERGE OF FAILURE

When we observe and glance the early months of 2020, in Turkey, pressure against journalism is executed systematically. The journalists are shown as target point. In order to stop journalism workers in all levels, anything is applied. Various pressures like taking under custody, arrest, questioning, court, and imprisonment are in progress. The journalists who are supposed to make news become the news themselves.

All of the journalists outside working for authority are under great pressure. In the time that everyone is fighting against corona virus, unfortunately in Turkey the journalists are target themselves. According to international data and information, Turkey finds “journalism work” among the most dangerous one.

THE JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN DEPORTED

Furthermore, some journalists coming from abroad have been faced with psychological and physical attacks including deportation, taking under custody or arresting them. 17 January 2019, the journalist working for Financieele Dagblad’ın (FD), Ans Boersma have been deported. In April 30, 2019the editor of Morning Star Newspaper which broadcasts in England, Steve Sweeney who came to the region to follow the local elections was deported fomr Turkey as well. On the other hand, some journalists were not allowed to go abroad, some of their stuff, their passport were seized and some of them were fined.

TURKEY IS 154 AMONG 180 COUNTRIES

The index of freedom of journalism by the journalist without borders organization (RSF) in 2020, presented the situation about Journalism in Turkey. RSF highlighted the increase of pressure on journalists and their sequence and list of countries. According to this, Norway, Finland, and Denmark are countries have been shown as those where the journalists can work with fewer problems. At the end of the list North Korea exist. And turkey takes place in 154 among 180 countries. And without any comment just statistically, this line shows how Turkey is far from the freedom of journalism.

The writers in Prison Committee

Kurdish Pen Centre

24.07.2020

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