Remembering the attack against Özgür Ülke Newspaper 27 years ago
On the night between 2 and 3 December, a bomb targeted the Özgür Ülke Newspaper building. A protest will be held in Istanbul Kadırga tomorrow, the 27th anniversary of the attack.
It has been 27 years since Özgür Ülke Newspaper was bombed on the night of 2 December 1994, just 239 days after it started broadcasting.
The newspaper's head office in Istanbul Cağaloğlu and offices in Kadırga and Ankara were simultaneously bombed that night. As a result of the attack, newspaper employee Ersin Yıldız lost his life and 23 journalists and employees were injured.
Yeni Yaşam Newspaper will hold a commemoration tomorrow in front of the newspaper's old building in Kadırga. Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, representatives of non-governmental organizations and journalists will attend the commemoration, at 11 am.
After the statement to be made in Kadırga, journalists and friends will visit the grave of Ersin Yıldız in Yeşilpınar Cemetery.
Two offices of Özgür Ülke (Free Country), a daily independent Kurdish newspaper, were bombed 27 years ago, on 2 December 1994. Member of staff Ersin Yıldız lost his life in Istanbul Central Office of Özgür Ülke, while the Ankara office was destroyed.
A bomb-loaded truck exploded under the building, leaving 23 reporters and staff members injured. On top of that, 23 other journalists were arrested.
The subsequent investigation, carried out by the Turkish authorities, failed to solve the case. The attack happened just after the then Prime Minister Tansu Çiller openly talked of the need to ‘push Özgür Ülke out of the way’.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Turkey but no one was ever found guilty or arrested for the attack.
Despite being hardly hit, Özgür Ülke never stopped its publication. Thanks to the solidarity of many, the paper was able to come out the day after the attack. The headline read "This fire also burns you."
Solidarity was expressed by other members of the press, intellectuals and artists. They sold Özgür Ülke on the streets even though a confiscation order was issued by prosecutors.
Özgür Ülke continued to be published although with different names… Ülkede Gündem, Demokrasi, Yedinci Gündem, Ülkede Bakis, Alternatif, Günlük…
The price paid for freedom of expression has been high, with more than 50 staff members killed.