OSCE media freedom representative asks for justification of mass arrests of journalists in Turkey
VIENNA, 20 December 2011 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, said she was alarmed by the mass arrests of journalists in Turkey today and called for swift investigations.
“It is important to know exactly why these media professionals were arrested. Although governments have an unquestioned right to fight terrorism, it should be carried out without silencing the press and curbing the public’s right to be informed. This right includes reporting on sensitive issues, such as terrorism,” the Representative said.
According to news reports, some 20 journalists were taken into custody early this morning following police raids on offices and houses across the country. Equipment was confiscated as evidence of their alleged involvement with the activities of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). Among others, journalists from the daily newspapers Vatan and Birgün, the DIHA news agency and a photographer from Agence France-Presse were arrested.
“The sheer volume of today’s police raids on journalists causes great concern for their safety as well as threatens the general press freedom situation in the country because it leads to self-censorship,” Mijatović said.
“Even before today’s developments, the number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey is unprecedented in the OSCE region. This was an issue I also raised with the authorities during my visit to Turkey last week,” she said.