Police raided on 8 June the homes of several Kurdish journalists working for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, the all-female Jin News website, a production company called Pel, and the Dicle Firat Journalists' Association.
During the raids, police officers seized computers, hard drives and other work equipment from the journalists’ houses and media offices.
All IFJ Turkish affiliates, Turkiye Gazeteciler Sendikası (TGS), Disk-Basin, Turkiye Gazetciler Cemiyeti (TGC) and Gazeteciler Cemiyeti Dernegi (GCD), unanimously condemned the arrest of the Kurdish journalists and the use of terrorism to criminalise journalism and urged for their immediate release.
Journalism is not terrorism
The police told local media that the operation targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK's) “press committee structure”, accusing the arrested media workers of promoting terrorist activities.
The Turkish authorities have disclosed no further information about the investigation, prompting a backlash from human rights groups and journalists' unions over the lack of transparency.
The arrested journalists announced they willcontinue working from their cells.
“The economic crisis is deepening, there are military operations in the works, and the presidential and parliamentary elections process for next year has started. Journalists follow these and report on them, that may be the reason for their detention,” said Dicle Fırat Journalists Association co-chair Serdar Altan, who is among the 21 who were arrested. Journalists will not be silenced with such arrests”, he added.
Journalists arrested include Serdar Altan, editors of the Mezopotamya and Jin News agencies Aziz Oruç and Gülşen Koçuk, Jin News Director Safiye Alagaş and several reporters from the two Kurdish-focused agencies, including Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Berivan Karatorak, Esmer Tunç, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, İbrahim Koyuncu, Remziye Temel, Mehmet Yalçın, and Abdurrahman Öncü, Mezopotamya media reported.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Turkish authorities continue to crack down on journalists, accusing them of practising terrorism. The IFJ strongly opposes these arrests and stands in solidarity with all Kurdish media workers currently in prison for doing their job. We call for their immediate release and the return of all confiscated work material. Journalism is not terrorism.”
On 16 June a Turkish court imprisoned pending trial 16 of the arrested journalists and media workers for alledgedly "belonging to a terrorist organisation".