Jailed women journalists: Our arrest was part of a plot

The Kurdish women journalists arrested by the AKP-MHP government said that the operation that targeted them was part of a plot.

Many women journalists were tortured and detained in simultaneous police operations on 25 October as the invading Turkish state was using chemical weapons against the guerrillas and was preparing a new attack on Rojava. The journalists were arrested on 29 October by a court. The police operation was carried out as part of an Ankara-based investigation.

Women journalists Diren Yurtsever, the Editor-in-Chief of the Mezopotamya Agency (MA), reporters Berivan Altan and Ceylan Şahinli, and JINNEWS reporters Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer delivered a message from the Sincan Women's Closed Prison after the first month of their imprisonment.

In the message, the women journalists said that "9 journalists were arrested in the morning on 29 October as the country marked the 99th anniversary of the Republic".

Habibe Eren pointed out that the police operation against the journalists had a symbolic message.

Eren reminded that during the State of Emergency (OHAL) declared after the July 15 Coup Attempt in 2016, many media outlets, including JINHA and DİHA, were closed by several governmental decrees (KHK).

Eren said: “The persistent government crackdown does not concern only one segment of society. Therefore, society and all segments of society should raise their voices before oppression becomes normal soon.”

Journalist Diren Yurtsever underlined that since they had never owed obedience to oppressive governments, they were targeted.

Yurtsever said: “We have secured citizens’ rights to obtain news even in the most critical periods and we have never taken a step back from doing what is proper to journalism. We, followers of the Free Press tradition, say that we will never back down, and we will continue to defend and fight for the freedom of the press. It is a fundamental principle and responsibility to defend the freedom of the press for all who aspire to a just, free and equal future.”

Journalist Ceylan Şahinli pointed to the rights violations and the schemes that were revealed to the public during the arrest process.

Şahinli revealed that a police chief cried with joy after their arrest warrant was issued. “Just this detail alone shows that our detention and arrest involved a political hatred and plot against us. We know well that this anger and hatred is against our Kurdish identity as well as our journalistic activities. They are trying to discipline us in prison since they have failed to silence us outside. However, it should not be forgotten that we carry on the tradition of the Free Press, which they could not silence by murdering journalists, and we will not be silent.”

Journalist Berivan Altan said: “As a Kurdish and female journalist, I continued to defend my profession with my head held high even though policemen attempted to lower my head during the detention.”

Altan added that they were arrested as part of the crackdown against the Free Press since the notorious 90s. “Even though the authorities maintained oppressive policies, the people never bowed down. As the voice of the Kurdish, Circassian, Alevi peoples and all others whose voices are silenced, we promise that we will not submit to these oppressive policies, and we will continue our profession in every field. They may have put us into a prison, but they cannot silence us.”

Journalist Öznür Değer pointed out that the arrest of 9 journalists in the run-up to the elections was a part of the "plan for  chaos" in the country.

Değer said: “We know that the government, which is fraught with serious problems in every field, seeks a solution by trying to silence the Free Press. On 25 October, a political plot was introduced by the Ankara Police Department on the instructions of the government. However, the slogan 'The Free Press Cannot Be Silenced' was frequently chanted in the Ankara Courthouse after our arrest decision frustrated their plot and once again showed that the voice of the press cannot be silenced by arrests. Even though the authorities accuse our defense of freedom of obtainment of information, we will continue to report on facts wherever we are, and we will embrace the legacy of the Free Press that we have inherited from prominent journalists Apê Musa and Gurbeteli Eröz."