Turkish journalist who covered man’s suicide put in police custody

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Journalist Ergün Demir.

A journalist who covered the story of a 45-year-old father’s suicide in Kocaeli due to his inability to buy a pair of trousers for his son’s school uniform was taken into police custody on Monday, the T24 news website reported.

The reason for Ergün Demir’s detention is unknown; however, the story had sparked critical reactions on social media and eventually created a public discussion about the lack of support by authorities for people in financial need.

Yet, some pro-government figures, most recently Ali Yalçın, chairman of education union Eğitim-Bir-Sen, found the publicizing of İsmail Devrim’s suicide a “deliberate” act to create political pressure on the government.

On Sunday a group of 15 people that gathered in Kocaeli to protest the Education Ministry responding to the suicide incident, claiming that “free education is a human right,” were also detained by police.

Devrim committed suicide last week after his son was refused entry to class because he was not wearing the school uniform slacks. According to reports, Devrim told his wife that there was no point in living of he was unable to buy a piece of clothing for his high school son.

The provincial education directorate announced that the family did not apply to the school administration for financial aid “probably as a matter of honor.”

The governor’s office, meanwhile, connected the incident to the “psychological problems” of the deceased father.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

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