Testimony Days for jailed journalists

Freedom for Journalists Platform organized “Testimony Days” to demand the release of journalists who are accused of being “murderer” and “harasser” by the government. Relatives and colleagues of jailed journalists gave testimony in front of Istanbul Courthouse in the first day of the “Testimony Days”.

The event in front of the courthouse was joined by recently released journalist Ahmet Şık, Evrensel paper Editor in Chief Fatih Polat, ESP Chair Figen Yüksekdağ, ÖDP İstanbul Provincial Chair Avni Gündoğan, EMEP İstanbul Provincial Chair Güven Gerçek, a large number of journalists and relatives and colleagues of jailed journalists. “Free press, free society” was the main slogan chanted by demonstrators.

Giving information about the “Testimony Days” to be practiced every day, Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) President Ercan İpekçi called attention to the situation of journalists and journalism in Turkey. İpekçi stated that there are currently 102 jailed journalists in Turkey, among them 15 being sentenced, and noted that around 180 journalists have been put in prison in the last three years. Sentence of some 100 journalists have been reprieved for five years, remarked İpekçi and reminded that nearly 600 journalists face legal actions filed against them, with 250 journalists tried without arrest.

Ipekçi pointed out that the Turkish Parliament remains insensitive to the case of jailed journalists and laws that restrict the freedom of press and expression. Ipekçi also remarked that media organizations are subject to censorship and self-censor under financial pressures they face.

Calling on the Parliament to take immediate steps to remove the obstacle which prevents people from learning truths, İpekçi on behalf of demonstrators demanded the amendment of relevant articles in Turkish Penal Code and the removal of relevant articles in Anti-Terror Law.

Ipekçi’s sppech was followed by the testimony of relatives and colleagues of four jailed journalists Kenan Kırkaya, Sedat Şenoğlu, Zeynep Kuray and Sevcan Atak.

DİHA Ankara Representative Kenan Kırkaya’s wife Newroz Kırkaya stated that her husband was taken into custody as a result of house raid by 20 police officers on the grounds of his interview with Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and the news he reported to Roj Tv. DİHA editor İbrahim Aslan underlined that Kırkaya was arrested for political reasons on the grounds of reaching out the people who fight for their rights to mother language, culture and identity.

Atılım paper Editorial Coordinator Sedat Şenoğlu’s lawyer Gülizar Tuncer pointed out that Şenoğlu was taken into custody and arrested many times so far because of his socialist stance in journalism. Tuncer reminded that Şenoğlu faces heavy imprisonment on the basis of statements by police officers.

The next testimony was given for Fırat News Agency (ANF) and Birgün paper reporter Zeynep Kuray who was accused of “performing works on behalf of an illegal organization” on the basis of Kuray’s statement “I make news for my people, not for money.”

Demonstrators also bore testimony for Özgür Halk editor Sevcan Atak who was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison on 18 June 2010 for allegedly “being a member of an illegal organization”.