Kurdish daily closes as Turkey media crackdown continues - Press Gazette

Kurdish daily closes as Turkey media crackdown continues

A historical Kurdish daily newspaper has become the latest news organisation to be forcibly shut down in Turkey.

A court in Istanbul ordered the closure of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgur Gundem on Tuesday, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The opposition paper is accused of spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been declared a terrorist organisation by the government.

PKK supporters are in favour of an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.

The move comes as Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of another opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet, resigned from his position.

He claimed he would live abroad after being condemned to five years in prison for allegedly divulging state secrets.

On Saturday the body of Kurdish journalist Wedat Hussein Ali was found, with signs of torture, dumped on the roadside just hours after being kidnapped in the city of Dohuk.

A failed attempt to overthrow president Recyyp Taripp Erdogan on 15 July has resulted in a media crackdown that has seen 131 media organisations ordered to closed down and 89 detention warrants issued for journalists, of whom more than 50 have been jailed. 

The IFJ and partner the European Federation for Journalists have launched a joint campaign to try to stop the media crackdown in Turkey that has resulted from last month’s failed military coup.

It calls on supporters to show solidarity with journalists facing persecution in Turkey by sending a letter to the Turkish ambassador in their country and signing and sharing an Amnesty International petition calling on President Erdogan to uphold human rights in the country.

IFJ president Philippe Leruth said: “We are witnessing the strangulation of free and independent media in Turkey.

“Journalists are being sacked and arrested, media closed and dissenting voices silenced. The world must wake up and demand the rights of Turkey’s journalists and media are upheld”.

EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard added: “The use of violence against journalists and media workers are unacceptable anytime, anywhere and what just happened at Özgür Gündem, the historical Kurdish daily in Turkey, is unacceptable.

“Apparently, the authorities are using the post-coup state of emergency situation to attack all critical voices”.

Özgur Gundem, whose print version has a daily circulation of around 7,500, has faced dozens of investigations, fines and the arrest of correspondents since 2014, said the IFJ. It has been repeatedly closed down in the past.

On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the title started a campaign called “editors-in-chief on duty” in which guest editors took over the paper in an attempt to defend press freedom and highlight attacks on the paper and its journalists.

An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of three of the campaigners, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ali Nesin on charges of “making terror propaganda” after they served as guest editors, said the IFJ. They have been released pending trial.

Turkey has declared a three-month state of emergency meaning authorities can hold suspects in detention without charge for up to 30 days without a court order.

The nation ranked 151 out of 180 in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index.



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