Turkey: Kurdish journalist sentenced to prison over interviews

Turkey: Kurdish journalist sentenced to prison over interviews
Update: 22 September 2022 23:17
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Nurcan Yalcin has been convicted of interviews made with women in Diyarbakir's Sur a short time before Turkish troops moved in to clash with Kurdish fighters in December 2015.

A Kurdish journalist was sentenced to a prison term of two years and six months by a Turkish court on Thursday over news reports she contributed to in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir in 2015.

A Diyarbakir court convicted Nurcan Yalcin of "aiding an illegal organization" over interviews made with women in the Fall of 2015 in the central district of Sur, where curfew was declared a short time later and Turkish troops launched a military operation.

Yalcin was accused for the "language used in the reports" and on grounds that a copy of a newspaper that published the reports was found on a suspected member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Yalcin's lawyer Resul Semur noted that the images similar to the ones she took during the interview were published in several newspapers in Turkey at the time.

Yalcin was arrested in a dawn raid on her home in Diyarbakir on 4 February and was not allowed access to her lawyer for 24 hours.

She had told daily Evrensel after she was released on 7 February that she was working for Jinha, an all women news agency, during the time of the interviews in Sur, and that she was interrogated by the police over images of women taken in a neighborhood.

She said:

"My face is not covered in the images, and I'm holding a microphone. The faces of the women are covered. They accused me over these images. They made it sound as if I'd done something illegal. They pressured me with questions like, 'Why did you go into that neighborhood? Why did you make these interviews? It wasn't so simple visiting that neighborhood, how did you manage to get in?'"

Siege of Sur

Sur district was besieged by Turkish forces in December 2015, and curfew was declared.

71 Turkish troops and hundreds of Kurdish fighters affiliated with the PKK were killed in clashes that went on for three months.

At least 200 civilians were killed in areas placed under curfew, according to human rights groups.

As heavy artillery was used by Turkish forces, the attacks on the city left historic neighborhood in ruins.

Amnesty International has estimated that 300,000 people were displaced by the conflict, and branded the government's response 'collective punishment'.

Human Rights Watch criticized the Turkish government, in the case of the clashes in Sur and other Kurdish-majority cities in 2015-16, for "blocking access for independent investigations into alleged mass abuses against civilians across southeast Turkey."