29 August 2016 – The police raid, mass arrests of employees and subsequent closure of the Kurdish language daily Azadiya Welat on 28 August, is a deeply disturbing development in Turkey’s relentless crackdown on freedom of expression, PEN International said today.
According to reports, police raided the offices of Azadiya Welat in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar district, during which they seized phones, identification papers and detained 23 journalists and employees, as well as four guests – including a minor – who were visiting their offices at the time. They all remain in detention and it is unclear what charges, if any, have been brought against them.
According to media reports, the detainees are as follows:
Yasemin Sayın, Hayat Yılmaz, Ahmet Kızılay, Arap Turan, Berxwedan Tulpar, Sürreya Dal, Zeynep İzgi, İbrahim Bayram, Engin Özelçi, Ahmet Boltan, Ceylan İpek, Mehmet Emin Kaya, Ziyan Karahan, Veysi Altın, Ercan Yeltaş, Azime Tarhan, Serdal Polat, Cengiz Aslan, Ferit Toprak, Mehmet Hüseyin Şahin, Mehmet Aydın, Pusat Bulut, Mehmet Emin Akgün.
After the failed coup on 15 July, a three-month state of emergency was declared by Turkish authorities, followed by a crackdown on freedom of expression and an increase in human rights violations. PEN International has documented Turkey’s post-coup purge. More than 23,000 people have been detained and over 82,000 people have been suspended or fired. 132 media organisations and 29 publishing houses have been ordered to shut down and there have been reports of ill-treatment of those held in custody. There are currently 132 journalists behind bars in Turkey.
PEN International calls on Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for exercising their right to free expression and to urgently clarify the circumstances behind the raid of the Azadiya Welat offices and the arrest of all those detained. PEN also calls for all those detained to have access to lawyers, to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognisably criminal offence; and for others to be tried promptly, in accordance with international fair trial standards.
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