CFWIJ demands action to end police brutality against journalists in Turkey

The international association CFWIJ sees police violence against women journalists in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan as one of the most pressing problems for press freedom and has launched a petition.

The CFWIJ recognizes police violence in Turkey as one of the most urgent issues. Their monitoring and research in the last two years has shown a consistent rise in physical police violence against journalists covering various issues in the country, and particularly a rise in violence against women journalists. 

“We demand an end to the systematic police violence that deliberately targets journalists in Turkey. In a country that claims to respect and protect democracy and the free press, journalists must be able to do their job without feeling threatened,” CFWIJ said.

The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) continues to follow the direct targeting of journalists and the disproportionate use of force against women journalists who follow events in the country. CFWIJ said they consider the latest events quite alarming and we are deeply concerned about the physical assaults women journalists have suffered. 

Since the beginning of 2021, CFWIJ has recorded at least 44 women journalists subjected to police violence in Turkey. Three women journalists' had their houses raided and were detained for their journalistic activities. At least 13 female reporters were detained while following events in the field. Many of them were exposed to verbal harassment by the police at the same time as those cases.

The latest incident, which took place on the first day of the sacrificial Eid on July 20, 2021, proved the escalating police brutality in the country. Journalists following the commemoration for those killed in the Suruç Massacre were not only besieged by the police, but also faced severe physical violence that amounted to injury. CFWIJ took immediate action and recorded at least eight women journalists who were physically assaulted by the police force. 

As seen in other years, women journalists face police violence almost every day in Turkey. In comparison to the cases we recorded in 2020, violence against women journalists has sharply increased by 158.82% this year.

In 2021, Evrensel Newspaper’s Ayşen Şahin was among the journalists whose house was raided and detained for following the student protests at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Another one was Pınar Gayıp. The reason behind her detention was working for the opposition news outlet Etkin News Agency (ETHA). Jinnews reporter Beritan Canözer remained in custody for four days because of her journalistic coverage. 

“The safety of women journalists is currently under threat. Women journalists were not only subject to the disproportionate force of the police in the field, but they were also detained. The outlet cards of most women journalists were not accepted as press ID because they were not approved by the Presidency's Directorate of Communications. With this pretext, the police intervened in the field, and the journalists were easily detained.”

With the directive initiated by the General Directorate of Security (EGM) on April 27, 2021, it became nearly impossible for journalists to do their job. It paved the way for the direct intervention of journalists filming and the social movements they followed.

The Coalition said, “Women journalists no longer feel safe in the field, the places they work, or their homes. Being beaten by the police, unwarranted raids, verbal and physical harassment, the possibility of damaged equipment, and widespread detentions make it exceedingly difficult for journalists to do their job.”

CFWIJ invited everyone to join their campaign to raise awareness about this issue and to help them support women journalists, “Join us in saying enough is enough to the police violence that is instigated by what we observe to be state oppression and extends into the justice system of the country. While we demand women journalists be free and safe, we would like to invite everyone to support women journalists and sign the petition to create social awareness with the hashtag #WeAreNotSafe.”

Die Petition can be signed here: Turkey: CFWIJ demands action to end police brutality against journalists — The Coalition For Women In Journalism