Two more Kurdish journalists arrested

(January 11, 2016) Turkey arrested two more Kurdish journalists in the last seven days and detained three more on duty who were later released. Nedim Oruç, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) was arrested in Şırnak on January 6 for “propaganda” of a terrorist organization and Rojda Oğuz, reporter for the pro-Kurdish, all female Jin News Agency (JİNHA) was arrested on January 8 in Van for “membership” of a terrorist organization. The journalists, as usual, is accused of being connected to the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

Clashes between the security forces of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents at urban areas have been ongoing for months; adding up causalities from both sides alongside civilians as documented by local and international human rights groups. CPJ observed Kurdish journalists operating at hot zones have been targeted by authorities.

Oruç was taken into custody by force and beaten during the apprehension from his home according to eyewitnesses cited in the related reports of DİHA. Oruç was detained with dozens of other people in scope of door to door operations the police have been practicing recently and his whereabouts were unknown before the incident turned into a trending topic on twitter and other journalists put pressure on the authorities by making telephone calls. The journalist’s camera, computer and handwritten notes were confiscated by the police and he was questioned about those. Kunur defended himself by saying he was there to report the clashes and recorded the people digging trenches to avoid the authorities entering the area. According to Konur’s testimony he went to a relative’s house in the neighborhood when the clashes intensified and he was taken into custody from there. The journalist was transferred from the prosecutor’s office with a demand of arrest with both “membership” and “propaganda” charges. The Silopi Court of Penal Peace decided that there is not enough evidence for “strong reasonable doubt” on membership but arrested him on the propaganda accusation. He is at Şırnak Prison, pending trial.

Oğuz is a university student alongside being a reported of JİNHA and was detained alongside other students according to the reports of the agency. She was questioned about her social media posts which included news from JİNHA and some demonstrations she had attended which she has stated that she was there to cover the events as a journalist as her police questioning documents inspected by CPJ show. Oğuz also denied being at some of these demonstrations at all. The journalist is also questioned about phone recordings she has made from her cellphone, which were tapped in by the police. These phone recordings were used as evidence that Oğuz was in connection of a student organization in connection with outlawed Kurdish movements but Oğuz denies such a connection. There is also the testimony of a secret witness about her being involved with terrorist activities which has been used against the journalist The Van 2nd Court of Penal Peace decided that the social media posts, phone recordings, the presence at demonstrations and the secret witness testimony were sufficient for “strong reasonable doubt” for the accusation of membership and arrested her. She is at Van prison, pending trial.