Another Vital Organ Of A Free And Transparent Democracy Finds Itself Arrested In Turkey: 40 Journalists Have Been Arrested For Their Opposition Of The Ruling Party

Press Statement

20.12.2011

The wave of mass arrests in Turkey has been extended to opposition journalists and members of the Kurdish media after last month’s mass arrest of defence lawyers.

Journalists and the freedom of press and media without any interference are vital tools for a transparent and open democracy. Whilst Turkey aspires to being a regional democracy it has today once again defied one of the very basic principles of a true democracy; the freedom of press and media with the mass arrest of 40 leftist journalists, a majority of whom are Kurdish and some working for the leftist Evrensel newspaper.

Today’s arrests were conducted as dawn raids at the homes and offices of the journalists where personal and computers where seized. The mass arrest of journalists is yet another contribution to the arbitrary wave of arrests under the premise of KCK operations. Whilst this mass wave of arrests casts doubt on any intentions of a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question in Turkey, it is a deeply concerning development for all those journalists who wish to report fairly, openly and without any hindrance from the government. Hence, any pro-Kurdish reporting could end in prison.

Whereas the media should be utilised to invoke mass debate for peaceful resolution and conciliation, Turkey has chosen to install fear in the expression of consciences and to silence the media and journalists who oppose its policies.

Just last month we saw the mass arrest and detention of over 50 defence lawyers and before that there was the arrests of publisher Ragib Zarakolu and Professor Busra Ersanli; a prominent peace activist and member of the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) constitutional reform commission.

These latest wave of arrests confirms once again that anyone in Turkey who speaks favourably for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question is at risk of arrest and imprisonment. The justification for the arrests has come from problematic anti terror laws, which do not conform with any human rights principles. As with the recent arrests of the lawyers, the journalist’s reports and their particular interest points are being used to establish a link to the KCK, which is said to be a union of pro-Kurdish civil society organisations or as the government put’s it; the PKK’s civil society arm.

As one of many Peace Council’s working for the promotion of a peaceful resolution through dialog we find these arbitrary arrests deeply concerning and an obstacle for any attempts at a peaceful resolution. We therefore call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, an end to the arbitrary arrests and for the Turkish anti-terror laws to be repealed.

A continuation of these arbitrary arrests, the silencing of the media and journalists will only intensify public outrage and further remove the Kurdish people from the government and its authorities. This will only serve to legitimise Turkish people over the Kurdish people, which will be a dangerous prospect for a country is desperate need for a peaceful society living in harmony.

* Britain Peace Council (Turkey)

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