PEN International urges immediate release of Kurdish journalists
PEN International Europe Program Coordinator Aurelia Dondo said that the detention of 11 Kurdish journalists proved a hike in repression on independent and critical voices in Turkey and called for their immediate release, Mezopotamya reported on Friday.
Turkish police detained 11 journalists from Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) and Kurdish outlet JinNews in a series of dawn raids carried out simultaneously in six provinces on Tuesday, but one journalist was later released under electronic custody after being unable to breastfeed her 45-day-old infant for five hours.
Aurelia Dondo said that the repression on free press workers in Turkey was worrying and that was a sign that the government was trying to suppress critical and independent voices.
“The detention of 11 journalists comes after continued crackdown on independent and critical voices in the country. We call for their immediate release,” she said.
She continued: “In September 2022, the PEN International Assembly of Delegates adopted a resolution on the suppression of Kurdish language and culture in Turkey. This resolution specifically calls on the Turkish authorities to end the prosecution and detention of writers and journalists based on their content, as well as immediately release all those detained for what they wrote, including in support of the Kurdish language and culture.”
Kiran Nazish, founding director of Women in Journalism (CFWIJ) who is also a journalist specializin in Asia and the Middle East, also drew attention to the fact that Kurdish women journalists have been oppressed in turkey for many years.
“We are extremely concerned that Turkey has become one of the countries that violates the freedom of the press and especially the harassment against women journalists. We expect Turkish authorities to show more respect and dignity to women journalists. But instead, they raid their homes and arrest them without charge or for wrongful reasons. They have been persecuting women journalists unjustly for many years. This is especially true for Kurdish women who are journalists, many of whom are behind bars or who have been ill-treated in detention.”
Mezopotamya and JinNews frequently find themselves under investigation related to terrorism charges over the Kurdish issue. Turkish authorities accuse them of publishing news benefiting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is a “crime” punishable by several years in prison under Turkey’s anti-terror laws.