PEN International is deeply saddened and disturbed to learn of the death of Rohat Aktaş, editor and journalist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, killed while reporting from Cizre in Şırnak province in southeast Turkey. According to reports, Aktaş had travelled to the province to report on the 24-hour curfew imposed in the area by Turkish authorities. Aktaş became trapped in a basement with dozens of others after he was shot in the arm while reporting on the efforts to help wounded civilians.
According to media reports on 29 January Turkey’s Constitutional Court confirmed that it had issued an order to halt ambulance crews working in the area, on the grounds that it was too dangerous to reach the injured. Cizre, which has a majority Kurdish population, has been under curfew since 14 December following clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish armed separatists.
‘Rohat Aktaş died while trying to tell the world about the plight of wounded civilians with little or no access to medical care in Cizre. Freedom of expression plays an invaluable role, particularly in times of conflict, to allow us to understand what is happening. We call on the Turkish authorities to conduct a swift, transparent and thorough investigation into the death of Rohat Aktaş and urge the government in Ankara to look for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the conflict in southeast Turkey,’ said Salil Tripathi, Writers in Prison Committee Chair, PEN International.
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