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3 journalists detained in Ankara for protesting arrest of 16 colleagues

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Turkish police have detained three journalists for attending a demonstration protesting the arrest of 16 of their colleagues on charges of membership in a terrorist organization in June, local media reported on Tuesday.

Journalists Sibel Yükler, Deniz Nazlım and Yıldız Tar were reportedly ill-treated and detained by police officers who on Tuesday intervened in a protest organized by the Broadcasting and Printer Workers Union (DİSK BASIN-İŞ), the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) and Mezopotamya Women Journalists Platform in Ankara’s Ulus district.

The other journalists, who were prevented by police officers from reading out a written statement condemning the arrest of their 16 colleagues, moved the protest to the Ankara office of DİSK BASIN-İŞ.

Slamming the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s crackdown and police violence against Kurdish journalists, they said: “Let it be known that journalism is not a crime. Journalism has no nationality.”

Turkish authorities arrested 16 journalists, including DFG co-chair Serdar Altan, Mezopotamya news agency (MA) Editor-in-Chief Aziz Oruç and JinNews News Director Safiye Alagaş, on June 16, after they had been detained in southeastern Diyarbakır province on June 8, in a move that sparked outrage among opposition politicians, press members and rights activists.

Kurdish culture and language remain repressed in Turkey, with most pro-Kurdish and Kurdish language media outlets closed down and several journalists from Kurdish or pro-Kurdish outlets in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges.

It is common for journalists in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, to face threats, physical attacks and legal harassment due to their work.

Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey, which is among the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.

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