Turkey: Press freedom trampled underfoot
Public Prosecutor's Office demands 15 years imprisonment for Kurdish newspaper editor (Press release)
The German human rights organization Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) strongly criticizes the Turkish Public Prosecutor's Office for demanding 15 years imprisonment for Ramazan Ölcen, editor of "Azadiya Welat", the only Kurdish-language daily newspaper. "The fact that critical journalists are suffering from arbitrary justice clearly shows that press freedom is not worth a lot in Turkey today," stated Kamal Sido, the STP's Turkey expert, in Göttingen on Wednesday. "Obviously, this is an attempt to silence critical journalists who dare to inform the public about the Turkish military offensives against Kurdish regions in northern Syria – and to cover up human rights violations and war crimes committed by the Turkish military and the allied Syrian Islamist militias.
The trial against Ramazan Ölcen was opened on Monday. He has been in prison since March 2016. Like many other detained journalists, he is accused of being a member of a terrorist group. His newspaper "Azadiya Welat" was established in 1992. Since then, the newspaper had been temporarily banned more than once, and the Turkish police had repeatedly confiscated individual issues. In the 1990s, several teenagers who sold the newspaper in the streets were shot, and some of the journalists who wrote for "Azadiya Welat" were murdered. In August, the police had stormed Diyarbakro's office building and taken 27 people into custody. In October 2016, "Azadiya World" and 15 other Kurdish media companies were closed down completely by government decree.
In the aftermath of the coup of July 2016, the Turkish authorities had closed at least 150 media houses, and many employees were arrested. In a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Turkey was listed as "the worst jailer of journalists in the world" for the third time in 2018. Currently, there are at least 142 journalists in jail in Turkey.
Header image: Kamal Sido/ GfbV