French trade unions protest detention of Kurdish media journalists

In France, trade unions are protesting against the detention of nine journalists from Kurdish media organizations in Turkey.

In France, trade unions are protesting against the detention of nine journalists from Kurdish media organizations who were arrested by the Turkish authorities in Ankara, Istanbul, Van, Amed, Urfa and Mardin and have been in prison for a week.

They had only done what is the task of all media workers: reporting on abuses in their country and informing the public about the policies of the authoritarian Erdogan regime, explained the umbrella organization of autonomous trade unions Union Syndicale Solidaires and the interest group of French journalists from the Television industry (Syndicat National des Journalistes de France Télévisions, SNJ) in a joint statement.

"We call on the Turkish authorities to release all detained colleagues immediately."

The journalists arrested are Diren Yurtsever, Deniz Nazlım, Selman Güzelyüz, Berivan Altan, Hakan Yalçın, Emrullah Acar, Ceylan Şahinli, Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer. They work for the news agencies Mezopotamya (MA) and JinNews, which report frequently and in detail on the war crimes committed by the Turkish army in Kurdistan, including the use of chemical weapons. The authorities see this as “propaganda for an illegal organisation” and accuse the journalists of "terrorism". When they were arrested, the journalists were beaten, insulted and humiliated, and in prison they had to endure degrading strip searches. The male journalists are isolated from their fellow prisoners and held in solitary cells.

"This operation followed the previous wave of arrests in June 2022," said the Union Syndicale Solidaires and SNJ. At that time, 16 journalists were arrested in Amed. They remain in detention without any charges being brought against them.

“The free Kurdish press is the one that most often put the pen to the wound. It consistently refuses to comply with the orders of those in power,” said the French unions. The French associations also criticize the law passed by the Turkish parliament in mid-October against the dissemination of so-called false news. Anyone who spreads “false or misleading” reports can be punished with up to three years in prison.

Union Syndicale Solidaires and SNJ call the regulation a "censorship law" to silence opposition media. "Under these circumstances, we reiterate our support for the independent media under attack by the Turkish authorities and call for the release of all imprisoned journalists. We don't forget you. The free press cannot be silenced.”