DFG marks 10 January: 87 journalists are behind bars in Turkey

The Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) Co-Chair Dicle Müftüoğlu stated that 87 journalists are currently jailed, stressing that they regard January 10 Working Journalists Day as a day of struggle, not a celebration.

The Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) made a press statement in front of Diyarbakır Courthouse to mark January 10, the Working Journalists' Day. In addition to numerous journalists, many from the Lawyers Association for Freedom (ÖHD), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Amed Provincial Co-Chairs Gülistan Atasoy, Zeyyat Ceylan, the Mesopotamia Culture and Language Research Association (MED-DER) and representatives of many non-governmental organizations attended the press briefing on Tuesday.

DFG Co-Chair Müftüoğlu recalled that January 10 was celebrated as the “Working Journalists Day” after the journalists' right to work was ensured and said that nothing has been in favour of journalists celebrating this day.


Müftüoğlu pointed out that, since the legal regulation was made in 1961, neither the right to work nor conditions for journalists to carry out their professions have been secured. She said: “The ruling AKP, which came to power by promising an 'advanced democracy', has turned this country into a prison for journalists. With a governmental decree introduced after the State of Emergency in 2016, nearly 300 media outlets that were not pro-government were closed. The government is trying to silence journalism in a country where journalists do their profession by confronting all the obstacles by introducing a "Censorship Bill" under the pretext of "fighting disinformation". Investigations and lawsuits are launched against any news articles and social media posts that disturb the government. Journalists spend most of their time in courthouses because of lawsuits against them, rather than reporting.”


Müftüoğlu noted that this situation even gets worse when it comes to Kurdish journalists. She said: “27 of our colleagues have been arrested during the operations against the Free Press in the last 7 months, and the number of jailed journalists has thus increased to 87. Last June, 22 people, 20 of whom were journalists, were detained in a Diyarbakır-based operation. Due to the confidentiality order on the file, our friends, who had no idea about the accusations against them, were criminalized by the pro-government media. Reports of our colleagues, who were transferred to Diyarbakır Courthouse after an 8-day detention period, were cited as evidence against them. 16 out of 20 journalists were arrested early in the morning and sent to prison. Although 7 months have passed, the investigation against them has not been completed.”

Speaking about the operation that took place in Ankara on October 25, Müftüoğlu said: “11 journalists were detained in a violent way by the police. The images of torture against our colleagues were disseminated by the Ankara Police Department in order to intimidate journalists who were not jailed yet. Nine of the detained journalists were immediately arrested by a court. Even though the names of persons and cities changed, the accusations did not change, and our friends were accused of their news.”

Müftüoğlu concluded: “These operations sought to silence the Free Press, but despite all the obstacles, we continue to fight for the truth in the name of 'defending journalism'. In a country where 87 journalists are held behind bars, we regard January 10 as a day of struggle, not a celebration day. We once again call for the release of all journalists, especially our colleagues who were arrested following operations in Diyarbakır and Ankara.”