Police storm offices of critical radio and TV stations, detain staff

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Employees of prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV react as Turkish police raided the headquarters of the TV channel on October 4, 2016 in Istanbul. In dramatic scenes, police raided the IMC TV headquarters and stopped broadcasts despite protests by staff who thronged the studio, its own live pictures showed. The channel was one of several outlets ordered closed last week under Turkey's controversial state of emergency imposed in the wake of the July 15 failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Teams from the İstanbul Police Department on Tuesday stormed the offices of three media outlets that were recently removed from the Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) platform due to their critical stance toward the government, cut off their broadcasts and detained some of their staff, Turkish media has reported.

Police teams raided the offices of the Hayatın Sesi TV and İMC TV television stations and Özgür Radyo, among 33 TV and radio stations removed from Türksat by government decree on Sept. 28.

Hayatın Sesi TV was continuing its broadcasts from its YouTube channel.
The police raid on the Hayatın Sesi TV offices took place as a delegation from the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) was there for a visit on Tuesday afternoon. The police officers sealed off the station’s broadcasting room and shut down its YouTube broadcast.

Sevda Karaca, a producer for Hayatın Sesi TV, told the Bianet news portal that the police closed down the section in which they coordinate broadcasts but did not seal off the entire building because they share it with the Evrensel daily.imc3

“Solidarity visits to us are continuing. We are here and not going anywhere. These days teach us how difficult it is to practice journalism in this country. These days will pass, we will remember these days, but the things we’ve learned will not be useful at all to those who try to shut us down,” Karaca said.

During the police raid on İMC TV on Tuesday, the station’s general broadcasting coordinator Eyüp Burç was doing a live broadcast. When police officers attempted to cut off the broadcast, Burç asked them why they cover their faces.

“May hell be long for oppressors,” he said.

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The employees of the station reacted to the police attempt to cut off the broadcast, chanting slogans such as “Free media cannot be silenced,” “Don’t remain silent, scream” and “Having a free media is a right.”

Some staff members said İMC TV is being shut down because its mission has frightened the government.

A statement released by Özgür Radyo also said its offices were raided by the police and that the police used force against the station’s employees and detained 20 of them.imc1

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), slammed the closure of the media outlets, most of which are pro-Kurdish and left wing, at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

“If the closed-down media outlets had sold out their honor today, not the police but ministers would have gone to their offices as guests. They shamelessly accuse us of failing to make a speech in our mother tongue. Then they go and close down a Kurdish children’s channel,” said Demirtaş.

The HDP co-chair recently visited the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq where another HDP deputy acted as his translator because he cannot communicate in Kurdish.

Some have criticized Demirtaş for failing to speak his mother tongue; however, he said it was not his fault but the result of state restrictions imposed on Kurdish.

An employee of prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV cries as Turkish police raided the headquarters of the TV channel on October 4, 2016 in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
An employee of prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV cries as Turkish police raided the headquarters of the TV channel on October 4, 2016 in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The shuttered television stations include Zarok TV, a channel for children.

Since a failed coup attempt on July 15, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has tightened its grip on independent and critical media outlets.

The government has closed down dozens of media outlets including newspapers, TV stations, news agencies, magazines and radio stations since the coup attempt.

A state of emergency the government announced in the wake of the coup attempt makes it possible for the government to bypass Parliament through government decrees that have the force of law.

Most of the media outlets closed down by the government are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt despite any evidence to that effect.

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