Petition for arrested journalist Aziz Oruç

Over 200 journalists have launched an online petition for their colleague Aziz Oruç, who has been arrested in Turkey.

Aziz Oruç, a Kurdish journalist accused of being a "terrorist" by the Turkish Interior Ministry, was detained on 11 December in Doğubayazit district of Ağrı in northern Kurdistan.

During a meeting with his lawyer after his imprisonent, Oruç told that he had left from Sulaymaniyah and crossed from Iraq into Iran on December 8th, and was taken into custody at the Armenian-Iranian border crossing. There he was arrested by Armenian police claiming that his passport was fake.

Although Oruç said he was a journalist and wanted to go to Europe because he was wanted in Turkey due to an approved prison sentence, he was sent to Iran and handed over to the intelligence. After appearing in court two days after his detention in Iran, the Kurdish journalist was fined one million 800 thousand Iranian liras and his deportation was ordered. The Iranian intelligence did not let him cross at the border crossing, but brought him about a kilometer away and delivered him barefoot at the border with Turkey.

There he was able to reach members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and ask for help. The local politicians Abdullah Ekelek and Muhammet Ikram Müftüoğlu, who had been informed by the HDP, then went to the place that Aziz Oruç had reached half frozen in the meantime. While waiting by the roadside for a taxi to take Oruç to his family, they were suddenly thrown to the ground and arrested by the Turkish police with their hands tied on their backs. Since then, Aziz Oruç has been in custody. Meanwhile, Ekelek and Müftüoğlu have been jailed on charges of terrorism.

230 initial signatories have now launched a campaign via the website demanding the immediate release of Oruç. The journalists condemn how Oruç was portrayed in the media as a "terrorist" allegedly captured on the Iranian border and that he was not treated despite his injuries from cold and torture. His detention period was extended until 18 December.

The petition also deals with the general conditions for journalists in Turkey. Of 130 journalists arrested in the Council of Europe member countries, 110 are imprisoned in Turkey alone. Journalists are arrested again and again, released subject to registration requirements and are banned from travelling. This also affects many academics and politicians. The callers write: "Turkey is now a de facto open prison."

Sharply condemning Iran's and Armenia's offence against Oruç, the journalists demand:

"The illegal detention of our colleague Aziz Oruç must end and he must be released immediately. Until then, we call on all journalists and press organisations, the trade unions, the UN Human Rights Commission, the European Parliament and all human rights organisations to closely monitor Turkey's actions and show solidarity so no other journalist experiences the same.”