Frederike Geerdink: Reporting under siege in Turkey

22 October 2015

Last night, the Kurdish Community Centre in north London hosted an event with Frederike Geerdink, who is in London for a series of events promoting her new book on the Roboski massacre, The Boys Are Dead, which tells the story of her investigations into the atrocity on 28 December 2011 which killed 34 people.

frederike KCC event

Courtesy Ari Murad

Frederike gave a captivating account of her encounters with the Turkish authorities, which she said began the day she first visited Roboski in the weeks after the massacre took place.

She also described how state and private media in Turkey uncritically parroted the government narrative that the people killed were ‘terrorist helpers’ hiding PKK members among them as they crossed the border from Iraq, not civilians, and that the military was acting on sound intelligence. International media at the time insisted that the attack was an unfortunate accident and repeated that the government would carry out a full investigation.

Frederike was determined to uncover the truth behind the incident, however, and travelled to Roboski to hear from the villagers themselves and investigate the area. She discovered that neither the claims of sound intelligence (increased walkie talkie activity was the only evidence offered) nor that it was actually an accident on the part of the military were true. Continue reading

EDM tabled in UK parliament expresses ‘concern’ about state censorship and arrests in Turkey

An early day motion (EDM) has been tabled in the UK parliament calling for the release of Turkish journalists arrested in the latest police crackdown on the press. You can encourage your MP to sign the EDM by writing to them with your own message, or you can use our model letter which you can download here.

Early Day Motion 719: Restrictions On Press Freedom In Turkey

That this House is concerned about widespread reports of state censorship, and the firing, imprisonment and wiretapping of journalists in Turkey; notes that about 20 journalists were arrested in a series of dawn raids in Turkey in mid-December 2014; further notes that one of the journalists arrested in December, television presenter Sedef Kabas, is facing a prison sentence of up to five years for a tweet about a corruption probe involving high profile names; welcomes the statement by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations that the latest crackdown is against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of; calls on Turkish authorities to remove the travel bans imposed on the journalists, drop all criminal charges against them and release all other journalists behind bars in the country; and further calls on Ministers in the UK Government to raise these concerns with their counterparts in Turkey.

Sponsors: Clwyd, Ann/ Osborne, Sandra / Corbyn, Jeremy / Farrelly, Paul / Durkan, Mark / Russell, Bob    /   House of Commons: 21.01.2015

Freelance journalist working in Kurdistan responds to RSF allegations against PYD

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s leading media freedom organisations, reported last week that it has recorded a ‘growing number of abuses’ by the PYD against reporters and journalists working in Rojava. They allege that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the local security forces (Asayish) have been perpetrating ‘abuses on a large scale’, claiming ‘the PYD and its henchmen have no qualms about arresting or even abducting news and information providers whom they see as too critical in order to silence them and intimidate the others.’

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign received a copy of a letter written to RSF by freelance journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who has worked in Kurdistan for many years, responding to the RSF. Given that the picture drawn in the reports entirely contradicts his experience in the region, he felt obliged to write to the organisation and make his experience public. He makes clear that during the six recent trips he has made to Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria, he has found no evidence of the censorship or harassment detailed in the RSF reports, and has been able to work in Rojava without obstacles from authorities. Karloz requested we publicise his letter to offer readers and the public his personal experience of journalistic work on the ground in Rojava, which is a clear challenge to the claims.  We reproduce his letter below.*

*Editors Note: Karlos Zurutuza originally named fellow journalist Mr Massoud Hamid as author of the RSF report. This version of the  letter was circulated and published before he knew of this mistake, and has now been replaced with an amended version (below). He has written a public apology to Mr Hamid for the error, which we also publish below. Nonetheless, Mr Zurutuza stands by his statements on his experiences as a journalist in Rojava.

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KNK: Release all critically ill prisoners in Turkey


The KNK has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ calling for the release of hundreds of critically ill prisoners who are languishing in Turkish jails without proper medical attention. As the letter explains, despite recent changes to the law that would allow for seriously ill prisoners to be released, any prisoner charged under the anti-terror law who is suffering health problems has no chance of release under the current rules.

We know of at least 544 prisoners in Turkey are seriously ill who deserve to be released. We also know that 2300 people have died in Turkish prisons in the last 13 years.

The appeal has been signed by over 12o prominent public figures from across the world, including Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-chair of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP); writer and former political prisoner Ragip Zarakolu; Professor Noam Chomsky; several Members of the British, Irish and European Parliaments; and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to name a few. The appeal was also published in Turkish daily Radikal.

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All lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (CHD) released

News about the releases brought to you by Anadolu News Blog:

 

LAWYERS OF CHD (ASSOCIATION OF PROGRESSIVE JURISTS) AND PEOPLE’S LAW BUREAU (HHB) ARE FREE!

Anadolu Newsblog

Exactly 14 months ago the Turkish state under the AKP government launched an attack against 22 progressive lawyers of CHD and HHB. 9 lawyers, among them the president of CHD Selcuk Kozagacli, were arrested, their other colleagues were charged out of prison.

The state doesn’t have anything against them, except of their professional work. This was proven at the first trial in December, where not the court judged the lawyers, but in contrary.

Like in roulette 4 lawyers were selected and set free during the first court session, while the other 5 remained in prison.

40 democratic lawyers from Europe and thousands of lawyers in Turkey supported their charged colleagues until the end. The matchless solidarity among professionals, but also the unbending and revolutionary attitude of the lawyers have apparently forced the state to release the lawyers as abrupt as they were arrested.

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Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan – new book!

Draft-kurdistan-webA new book has been published entitled Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan:

In order to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, the Kurdish Freedom Movement in Turkey has developed an alternative social model: Democratic Autonomy.

In the fall of 2011, a group of TATORT activists journeyed into the Kurdish regions of Turkey to learn how the theory of Democratic Autonomy was being put into practice. They discovered a remarkable experiment in face-to-face democracy—all the more notable for being carried out in wartime.

Since 2005, under the most difficult of conditions, the movement in North Kurdistan has created structures for a democratic, ecological and gender-liberated society. At its core is a system of councils in villages, cities, and neighborhoods. These structures do not yet offer a way of life that is fully independent of the nation-state and the market economy, but they nonetheless reveal a potent civil counter-power.

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Haldane Society writes to Turkish Embassy ahead of Erbey trial

The Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers wrote to the Turkish Ambassador in London yesterday expressing concern over the continued imprisonment of lawyer and human rights campaigner Muharrem Erbey.

The letter was written in response to PEN International’s call to action for Erbey, whose trial is set to continue with a hearing on the 13 January. Find out more about the campaign here.

 

 

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EP Foreign Affairs committee drafts response to 2013 progress report

The European Parliament Foreign Affairs committee (AFET) has produced a draft report on the European Commission’s 2013 (EU Enlargement) Progress Report on Turkey, published in October this year.

The AFET is the first body within the European Parliament to assess the EC’s yearly progress reports and this draft is the first indication of the European Parliament’s official position on the report. AFET Report will be adopted most probably in January 2014 (the deadline for amendments is foreseen for next 8th of January, an AFET meeting is scheduled for the end of January), and then, after its adoption in AFET, it will be sent to the E.P. Plenary for final adoption in STRASBOURG. Before the final adoption of the report in March, there is an opportunity for interested parties to suggest amendments to the report. Peace in Kurdistan campaign made its own submissions last year, and will do so again this year.

You can download a copy of the AFET draft report here.

Petitions for Turkey’s oppressed lawyers and journalists

This week we received information about two important petitions that need your support.

The first is a Change.org petition for Selçuk Kozağaçlı and his colleagues at the Progressive Lawyers’ Association in Turkey who have been in detention without bail since their arrest in January this year:

AVUKATIM/MESLEKTAŞIM DERHÂL SERBEST BIRAKILSIN! RELEASE MY LAWYER/COLLEAGUE RİGHT NOW!
Read more about the arrests here

The second calls for justice for journalists in Turkey and is one the European Federation of Journalists’ (EFJ) many efforts in the last two years to oppose government repression of journalists and media workers in Turkey:

Justice for Journalists in Turkey
Journalists are not terrorists. The justice system in Turkey has failed its journalists.
To find out more about theEFJ’s Set Journalists Free in Turkey campaign, go to their website.

Please sign the petitions and share widely!

EC publishes 2013 Turkey progress report

The European Commission has published the 2013 progress report for Turkey’s accession process. The key findings are below, and the full report can be downloaded here (pdf): Turkey 2013 Progess Report

 

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 16 October 2013

Key findings of the 2013 progress report on Turkey

The Commission’s 2013 Progress Report on Turkey highlights a number of important steps taken by Turkey over the past 12 months, notably the adoption of a fourth judicial reform package and the start of a peace process to end terrorism and violence in the Southeast of the country. At the same time, the report emphasises the pressing need to develop a truly participatory democracy, able to reach out to all segments of society, as well as the clear requirement to further amend criminal legislation and reform its interpretation by the courts so as to ensure respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. These issues underline the importance for the EU to enhance its engagement with Turkey, especially on fundamental rights, so that it remains the benchmark for reforms in the country.

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