Reporters Without Borders calls on Turkey to release Kurdish journalists
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday called on the Turkish authorities to release ten journalists from pro-Kurdish media outlets and to stop repeated violations of freedom of the press.
The journalists were arrested on April 25 for alleged membership of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The journalists were among the more than 100 people, including lawyers and local politicians, who were arrested in a major police operation on April 25 – 19 days ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections. These operations target pro-Kurdish opposition groups in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and 20 other cities in Turkey, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
“It seems clear that this was a political manoeuvre designed to dismantle pro-Kurdish media and destabilize opposition parties before the elections,” RSF representative in Turkey Erol Onderoglu said.
“These arrests, which have become so frequent that they no longer cause astonishment, constitute appalling violations of freedom of the press that must end at once. We call on the authorities to stop using the justice system to suppress media pluralism.”
The details of the investigation are not yet known as the Diyarbakir prosecutor’s office has ruled that it must remain confidential, the RSF report said.
These arrests follow earlier waves of arrests in June and October 2022, in which 25 pro-Kurdish journalists and media representative were jailed.
Their trials on charges of “PKK membership” opened in Ankara and Diyarbakir on May 16 and July 11 respectively.
Eighteen International organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday also called on Turkey to release recently arrested Kurdish journalists, political party officials, and lawyers.