Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s leading media freedom organisations, reported last week that it has recorded a ‘growing number of abuses’ by the PYD against reporters and journalists working in Rojava. They allege that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the local security forces (Asayish) have been perpetrating ‘abuses on a large scale’, claiming ‘the PYD and its henchmen have no qualms about arresting or even abducting news and information providers whom they see as too critical in order to silence them and intimidate the others.’
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign received a copy of a letter written to RSF by freelance journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who has worked in Kurdistan for many years, responding to the RSF. Given that the picture drawn in the reports entirely contradicts his experience in the region, he felt obliged to write to the organisation and make his experience public. He makes clear that during the six recent trips he has made to Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria, he has found no evidence of the censorship or harassment detailed in the RSF reports, and has been able to work in Rojava without obstacles from authorities. Karloz requested we publicise his letter to offer readers and the public his personal experience of journalistic work on the ground in Rojava, which is a clear challenge to the claims. We reproduce his letter below.*
*Editors Note: Karlos Zurutuza originally named fellow journalist Mr Massoud Hamid as author of the RSF report. This version of the letter was circulated and published before he knew of this mistake, and has now been replaced with an amended version (below). He has written a public apology to Mr Hamid for the error, which we also publish below. Nonetheless, Mr Zurutuza stands by his statements on his experiences as a journalist in Rojava.
Update and background information on the Pinar Selek case:
THE NIGHTMARE HAS ENTERED ITS 15TH YEAR
Approximately for the last fifteen years, a nightmare is imposed on Pinar Selek, her family and all of us who are waiting for justice. This case which has stopped being a legal mistake or a defect, and turned into a massacre of the law, has entered its 15th year.
The course of events when Pinar Selek was chosen as a target started during her research on the Kurdish Issue in 1997. Under the conditions of that period, her interviewing the parties of that conflict in order to understand and recount the conditions of the war and why peace couldn’t be made was not only brave but also dangerous. It was a time of the ‘memorandums’ which were later admitted as sham by the makers themselves, and when tanks strolled in the streets of the capital, Ankara, in order to ‘fine-tune’. The state was determined to solve the Kurdish Issue by war and by crushing it. Within this period, Pinar Selek was taken into custody by the Police Department on July 11th 1998, was heavily tortured and her research was confiscated because she refused to give the names of those she had interviewed. Continue reading “Pinar Selek case reaches 15th year”
The President of the European Federation of Journalists, which for over a year has been running the Set journalists free in Turkey campaign, recently sent a letter to the Commissioner for EU Enlargement, Stefan Fule, with an urgent call for action to end media clampdowns in Turkey.
You can read the letter below, and here is a response written by Stefan Fule, available to download (pdf).
Commissioner Štefan Füle
Re: Urgent Call for Action to End Media Clampdown in Turkey
18 June 2013
Dear Commissioner Füle,
We are writing as Presidents of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation representing more than 600.000 journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to bring to your attention the serious developments for our colleagues in Turkey.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched an international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey. Here is the latest update.
- 10 July 2013 – The Gezi protests have shown the rampant institutional bias in Turkey’s media which now leaves little room for facts, by Burcu Baykurt in LSE
- 10 July 2013 – Female journalist Zeynep Kuray not to get Alpi Award in Italy because of judicial travel ban, ANSA
- 10 July 2013 – Turkey: End police violence against journalists. (DE, FR, TR), by Sedat Erdin in Hürriyet
- 8 July 2013 – 13 reporters have been injured and 2 arrested, Bianet in Turkish
- 8 July 2013 – Turkey police arrest 59 protesters (12 journalists), Voice of Russia
- 8 July 2013 – Council of Europe: Turkey: police violence must not go unpunished, Council of Europe
- 5 July 2013 – Plus de 60 journalistes emprisonnés, par Patrick Kamenka dans Humanité Dimanche (PDF)
- 4 July 2013 – Journalistes derrière les barreaux, par François Janne d’Othée dans Afrique Asie (PDF)
- 4 July 2013 – The Government of Poland and the MFA are concerned about the violence that occurred in Istanbul, Anna Sochanska in a letter to the President of EFJ
- 2 July 2013 – Turkeyh : Press freedom fight continues as media crackdown escalates, in EFJ Focus newsletter