More than fifty members of the press of all tendencies appeared before the courts for their writing. Journalists casting doubt in one way or another on the army were systematically harassed. Several dailies were prosecuted for their coverage of hunger strikes by prisoners protesting against their prison conditions and police operations in prisons. Twenty journalists were attacked while in the line of duty, and thirty arrested. Five journalists - Kemal Evcimen, Hasan Ozgun, Asiye Zeybek Guzel, Mustafa Benli and Nureddin Sirin - are still in jail in particular for their responsibility in the circulation of news and publications considered by the authorities to be threats to public order or state unity. Twelve other journalists were jailed in 2001 for variable periods of time, including Fikret Baskaya, sentenced for "separatist propaganda" following the publication of an article criticising the way the Kurdish question is handled.
Obstruction to press freedom remains especially serious in the country’s south-east, an area subject to law 2935 on the state of emergency which gives the region’s governor the right to forbid access, the distribution and printing of newspapers, books and tracts in the area. In 2001 the far-left daily, Gunluk Evrensel, and the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, were forbidden access to and distribution in four of the region’s towns: Diyarbakir, Tunceli, Hakkari and Sirnak. Several murders of journalists occurring in this area prior to 2001 have still not been cleared up.
The High Audiovisual Council (RTUK) has maintained tight control of the media by systematically ordering radio stations and televisions channels to suspend their broadcasting. The RTUK has punished 62 TV channels and 50 radio stations to a total of 3,236 days of suspension. Law 3984 on the audiovisual sector authorises penalties of up to a year’s suspension. A draft law making the suspensions even longer, including provisions that might have increased the concentration of the media landscape in Turkey, was vetoed by President Ahmed Necdet Sezer on 18 June.
In 2001 the government, within the framework of the country’s candidacy into the European Union, began a programme of democratic reforms. Announced on 19 March, the programme among other things provides for a revision of the law on the High Audiovisual Council, the reinforcement of provisions guaranteeing free speech and opinion and the withdrawal of the state of emergency. On 3 October the Turkish parliament voted for a series of amendments to the constitution recognising new rights for using the Kurdish language with the use of this right possibly being limited to "protect national security, public order and national unity". The authorities promised to amend several of the most repressive provisions of the penal code, in particular articles 159 (mocking and insulting state institutions), 312 (incitement to hatred and hostility through discrimination...) and 169 (aid to illegal organisations) and the anti-terrorist law 3713, especially articles 7 and 8 on "a terrorist organisation’s propaganda" and "separatist propaganda". On 25 October the European parliament said that "press freedom is still abnormally supervised" in Turkey and that "several thousand people are now in jail for infractions which, in the eyes of our law, have more to do with beliefs".
New information on journalists killed before 2001
On 7 December 2001 the trial of the twenty-four people accused in the murder of twenty lay intellectuals, including Ugur Mumcu in 1993 and Ahmed Taner Kislali in 1999, editorialists of the republican daily, Cumhuriyet, killed in bomb attacks, opened in State Security Court no. 2 in Ankara. On 7 September 2001 the state prosecutor called for the death penalty for nine of the accused, acquittal for five and prison sentences for seven others for belonging to the illegal fundamentalist organisation, Tevhid-Selam. The verdict is to be handed down early in 2002.
On 12 December the trial of Yalsin Ozbey and Yusuf Celikkaya, two of the alleged murderers of journalist Abdi Ipeksi, managing editor of the daily, Milliyet, killed on 1 February 1979 in front of his home in Istanbul, opened in Istanbul. One of the murderers, Mehmet Ali Agsa, was arrested in Italy after trying to assassinate Pope Jean-Paul II and was sentenced in abstentia to life in prison for the journalist’s murder. The special amnesty law of 1991 reduced his sentence to ten years firm in jail.
Eighteen journalists jailed
In 2001 there are still five journalists in jail for having expressed their opinions as part of their activities as journalists: Kemal Evcimen, Hasan Ozgun, Asiye Zeybek Guzel, Mustafa Benli and Nureddin Sirin. Journalist Fikret Baskaya was sentenced in 2001 and jailed for "separatist propaganda", following the publication of an article criticising the handling of the Kurdish problem. The Turkish Press Board (Basinkonseyi) only has the name of Kemal Evcimen as a journalist imprisoned for several years for reasons associated with his professional activity. Of the twenty journalists presently in jail in Turkey - for the most part accused of "belonging to an illegal organisation" or for various acts committed as members of an illegal organisation - the six journalists defended by Reporters Without Borders were also found guilty for their responsibility in the circulation of information and publications considered by the authorities as threats to public order or national unity but, according to democratic standards, clearly related to the freedom and plurality of information.
On 17 February 1996 Hasan Ozgun, correspondent for the pro-Kurdish daily, Wzgur Gundem in Diyarbakir, was sentenced by the State Security Court to twelve and a half years in prison for "belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)". Arrested in December 1993, he is presently being held in Aydin prison in the country’s south-west. While under arrest in 1993, Hasan Ozgun’s colleagues were said to have been forced under torture to make statements accusing the journalist.
Arrested on 6 February 1997, Nureddin Sirin, editorialist for the Islamic weekly, Selam, was sentenced in September 1997 to seventeen and a half years in prison for "belonging to the Hezbollah". Moreover in June 1999 the appeals court upheld a twenty-month sentence for "incitement to hatred and hostility". On 15 June 1997 the journalist had published an article entitled "You Have to Be on the Side of the Oppressed, Even if They Are Atheists" in his newspaper.
On 22 February 1997 Asiye Zeybek Guzel, journalist for the far-left weekly, Atilim, was arrested at her home, then taken to the anti-terrorist section of the security department in Istanbul. During her thirteen days’ detention, she alleges she was tortured and raped. Accused of belonging to the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), Asiye Zeybek Guzel, presently held in Gebze prison, has never been tried. The journalist’s lawyer, Ercan Kanar, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights after the case was dismissed in favour of the policemen accused of the rape. At the 7 December 2001 hearing, a request for the journalist’s conditional release was rejected.
Jailed in February 1998, Mustafa Benli, owner and editor-in-chief of the monthly, Hedef, and journalist for the periodicals Liseli Arkadas and Alevi Halk Gersegi, was sentenced in November 1999 to twelve and a half years imprisonment for "belonging to an illegal organisation" (article 168, paragraph 2 of the Turkish penal code). On 24 October 2000, Hasan Erdogan, his lawyer, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
On 16 January 1995 Kemal Evcimen, owner and editor-in-chief of the periodical, Ozgur Karadeniz, was arrested in the north-eastern town of Trabzon and jailed in Erzurum prison. On November 1998 the Erzurum State Security Court sentenced him to twelve and half years in prison for "belonging to the Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People (DHKPC)".
On 29 June 2001 Fikret Baskaya, editorialist of the pro-Kurd daily, Ozgur Bakis and a university scholar, was thrown into Kalecik prison in Ankara. On 26 January the court of appeals upheld a 16-month prison term and a 1,066,000,000 LT fine (855 euros) handed down by the State Security Court for "separatist propaganda". In an article entitled "Is This an Historic Trial?" and published on 1 June 1999 in the daily, Ozgur Bakis, the editorialist wrote that "the Turkish leaders have already considered the Kurdish problem as one of public order, whereas it is really a national one, and they thought they could resolve the problem by applying chauvinistic, racist and nationalistic policies". He was sent to jail on 1 January 2002.
Twelve other journalists were jailed in 2001 for varying periods of time. Four of them are still in jail. These cases are under investigation to establish whether there is a link between their sentences and their journalistic activities.
On 15 February Seyit Karabas and Suat Ozalp, correspondents in Diyarbakir for the Kurdish periodical, Azadiya Welat ("Free Country") were released from Diyarbakir prison (south-east of the country) after their first appearance before the Diyarbakir State Security Court. Accused of "separatist propaganda" and "propaganda for an illegal organisation", the journalists had been arrested on 13 December 2000.
On 27 February Erdal Gumus, correspondent in Gaziantep for the far-left weekly, Yasamda Atilim, was arrested and jailed in the type-E prison of Gaziantep for "belonging to the MLKP". In a press release the journalist’s father said that his son had been jailed for having shed light on a case of death by torture in a police station and on an affair of breaking and entering in which policemen were implicated. The journalist was released on 14 May after his first trial appearance.
On 21 March Adnan Akdeniz Tas, editor-in-chief of the periodical, Hedef, was arrested and jailed in Ulucanlar prison in Ankara after confessing under pressure. He was accused of having taken part in demonstrations against F-type prisons on 12 December 2000 and demonstrations in support of the Turkish Revolutionary Party (TDP). He was held in Zile prison in Tokat in the country’s north, then freed.
On 3 April Bahattin Ari, owner and editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, Susma, was released from Ulucanlar prison in Ankara. He had been arrested on 12 January in Zongeldak in the north-west when leaving a post-office where he had picked up issues of the newspaper, Iscinin Sesi, sent to him from abroad. Accused of being "in possession of illegal publications" and "propaganda of a terrorist organisation", he was sent to Caycuma prison, then transferred to Ulucanlar prison in Ankara.
On 21 May Mehmet Kutlular, owner of the Islamic daily, Yeni Asya, was arrested at his home in Istanbul and jailed in eastern Thrace. He had said that "the earthquake of 1999 was a divine warning", in a speech given for the 39th anniversary of the death of Saidi Nursi, inspiration for the Nur sect in Turkey. On 9 May, 2000, the Ankara State Security Court had sentenced Mehmet Kutlular to two years and a day of prison for having made statements that "incited hatred and hostility through religious discrimination", by virtue of article 312, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the penal code. The sentence had been upheld by the appeals court on 16 January. He had to spend nine months and twenty-three days in jail. As of 1 January 2002, he was still in prison.
On 29 May Kasim Tirpanci, reporter for the local newspaper, 23 Subat, was released by the correctional court in Ardahan (in the country’s east) after twenty-five days of detention. He had been sentenced by virtue of article 266 of the penal code to one year and a day of jail and a fine of 277 million LT (227 euros) for "insult to the prosecutor of the law court", who had banned him from covering a trial.
On 12 June Munevver Iltemur, Ankara representative of the periodical, Yasamda Atilim, was sent to Ulucanlar prison, accused of "supporting the MLKP". She has been released on bail while awaiting her verdict.
On 15 June Ahmed Aydin, cameraman of the regional TV channel, Kanal VIP, was jailed on the order of Judge Belgin Aysil for having filmed senior officials in altercations with shop-keepers without their consent. The journalist was released on 10 July.
On 18 June Memik Horuz, managing editor of the far-left periodical, Isci Koylu (Village Labourer) was arrested and prosecuted by the Ankara no. 2 State Security Court for "helping an illegal organisation". In particular he was accused of having "carried out interviews with the TKP/ML TIKKO organisation (armed wing of the Turkish Marxist-Leninist Communist Party)", published in the former periodical, Ozgur Belesek. After three hearings, the court rejected his request to be released.
On 8 August Metin Yavuz, managing editor of the far-left weekly, Yasadigimiz Vatan, was arrested with about fifteen other people during a search of the newspaper’s offices in Istanbul. He was jailed. According to the police, "the press organ contained members of the organisation that is behind the hunger strikes in protest of type-F prisons". He was released on 12 November after the initial hearing of his trial, then re-imprisoned with Hatice Ruken Kilis, the periodical’s lady editor-in-chief. They were sent respectively to the prisons of Tekirdag and Bakirkoy in Istanbul.
Thirty journalists arrested
On 2 February 2001 Vedat Korkmaz, former owner of the far-left daily, Evrensel, was arrested for non-payment of fines imposed on him in the framework of a press trial. Yet two amnesty laws were passed after the fines had been imposed. He was released on 5 February.
On 25 Halil Sahin, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurd local weekly, Firatta Yasam ("Life on the Euphrates"), and Servet Ozdemir, correspondent of a far-left bi-monthly, Alinterimiz ("Sweat"), were arrested in Baziantep while covering a demonstration of government officials. They were released the same night after having been warned "never to do journalism in the area again".
On 19 July Kamil Tekin Surek, editorialist of the far-left daily, Yeni Evrensel (Universal News), and a lawyer, was arrested "by mistake" according to the police, and released an hour and a half later. In June 2000 the journalist was arrested when leaving a symposium in Ankara. The fourth Istanbul appeals court granted him 550 million LT (441 euros) in damages for his latest arrest.
On 7 August Ahmed Varol, journalist for the pro-Islamic daily, Akit, Hamza Turkmen and Ridvan Kaya of the pro-Islamic monthly magazine, Haksoz, were arrested and held for several hours for having publicly called for a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on an official visit to Turkey.
On 31 August Salih Erol, correspondent in Batman (south-eastern Turkey) for the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem (Seventh News), was arrested while covering a demonstration of sympathisers of the pro-Kurd party, HADEP (Party for the People’s Democracy) for Peace Day. He was arrested and violently beaten while under arrest. He sued on 3 September. On 26 November the Batman prefectoral Council refused to hear his case.
On 4 September Kitty Holland and Jullien Behal, journalists for the Irish newspaper, The Irish Times, and their translator were arrested. The two journalists were expelled from the country. Arrested with them, collaborators of the bi-monthly, Isci-Koylu, Sema Gul and Seza Horuz, were released.
On 5 September Baris Acikel and Besire Kasap, respectively editor-in-chief and reporter for the periodical, Isci Koylu, were arrested at the paper’s Istanbul office. They were taken to the anti-terrorist section, then appeared before the prosecutor of the Istanbul Court of State Security no. 6, who decided to release Besir Kasap. Baris Acikel was only released on 10 September.
On 25 September Mehmet Eren and Ahmed Bulut, representatives in Diyarbakir of the periodicals Dema Nu and Deng, were arrested for "possessing banned publications", by virtue of emergency law 2935.
On 6 October Hacer Yucel, reporter for the daily, Gunluk Evrensel, and Nuran Dogan, reporter for the far-left periodical, Yasamda Atilim, were arrested in Istanbul while covering a demonstration against the American operations in Afghanistan. Taken to the head of security in Kartal, they were freed after their press credentials were examined.
On 17 October Yusuf Ziya Ozisik, reporter for the leftwing daily, Gunluk Evrensel, was arrested while covering a gathering of shop-keepers in the town of Eyup, protesting against the American strikes in Afghanistan. He was freed on the same afternoon.
On 20 October Ramazan Pekgoz, correspondent in Sanliurfa (south-eastern Turkey) for the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem (Seventh News), was arrested by the Yaylak police in Bozova-Sanliurfa and questioned about the newspaper’s contents by virtue of the emergency laws in the area. He was released the same evening.
On 6 November Ali Riza Kilinc, reporter for the leftwing daily, Gunluk Evrensel, was arrested in Diyarbakir (south-eastern Turkey) during a demonstration by university members protesting against the decisions by the Higher Teaching Council (YOK). He was released within the hour.
On 29 November Hakan Kemaloglu, reporter for the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, and Ekrem Erdem, Bagdat Mizrak and Melek Tokur, collaborators for the far-left weekly, Alinteri, were arrested in their offices as part of the police operations carried out on the orders of the prosecutor of the Istanbul State Security Court. They were released soon afterward.
On 14 December Zeriman Dagdelen, Ihsan Polat, Bayram Aslan, Fatih Atabey and Haydar Sahin, journalists for the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gunden, as well as two of the newspaper’s directors and a driver, were arrested when trying to enter the Bakirkoy quarter of Istanbul. They were taken to the main Bakirkoy police station where they were held for more than four hours without any reason being given.
Twenty journalists attacked
On 11 April 2001 Tarik Tinayaz, photo-journalist for the press agency, EPA, Mert Ozkan, reporter for the Reuters agency, Metin Kayihan, reporter for the private television channel, Kanal D, Emrah Ozan and Adem Gumus, cameramen for the same channel, Burcu Kizilay, cameraman for the private channel, Star, and another unidentified reporter for the leftist republican daily, Cumhuriyet, were injured by a group of demonstrators while covering a demonstration organised in Ankara by shopkeepers protesting the government’s policies and economic instability. Several journalists were hospitalised. The vehicle of the news channel, NTV, was stoned.
On 20 May Yucel Bayluk, cameraman for the local television channel, Kanal A, was attacked by the employees of a construction company while attending a co-operative’s press conference. He was hospitalised. And two other local cameramen, Aydin Guclu and Ahmed Akgun, were manhandled during the altercation.
On June 10 Huseyin Kircal, reporter for the far-left daily, Yeni Evrensel, was attacked by people close to the leadership of the Burak Tekstil Company in Gulsuyu (Istanbul) while covering a demonstration of its employees. His assailants warned him, "If you write anything about the employees, you’re dead. We are from Ulkucu (’Idealists’, a rightwing ultra-nationalist group). You’ll get to know us." The journalist lodged a complaint for the mugging.
On 4 August Aydin Deniz, correspondent for the Anatolia Agency in the Igdir region, Akay Aktas and Alpaslan Siftas, owners of the local newspaper, Dilucu, were attacked with knives. The alleged assailants were said to be former employees of the local farming administration that was cited in the newspaper’s 18 July issue.
On 12 October several journalists, including Alper Yurtsever, photo-journalist for the daily, Star, and Ahmed Sik, reporter for the daily, Radikal, were attacked by the police in Beyazit Square in Istanbul while covering a demonstration of Moslems as they left the Beyazit mosque.
On 14 October Ramazan Kurt, cameraman for the leftist nationalist television channel, Ulusal Kanal (a nation-wide network) and Huseyin Likoglu, reporter for the Islamic daily, Yeni Safak, were attacked and slightly injured by the police in Kadikoy (Istanbul) where the leftist opposition parties were demonstrating against the military operations in Afghanistan.
On 30 and 31 October Husamettin Erbas, correspondent in Esenyurt for the local Istanbul daily. Hurbakis, was attacked by Mustafa Karatay, chief of staff at Esenyurt’s town hall in northern Istanbul) because of the journalist’s articles about the town’s mayor, Gurbuz Capan, who was in jail accused of corruption Hospitalised with severe facial wounds, the journalist filed a complaint. Mustafa Karatay was arrested.
On 3 November Mehmet Tan, sports writer for the dailies, Milliyet and Fanatik, was the target of an armed attack in front of his home in Trabzon (a town on the Black Sea in the country’s north). Two unidentified assailants shot twice at him but missed.
On 10 November Enver Fuler, reporter of the IHA (Ihlas Haber Ajansi) press agency, was attacked by an unidentified person with a knife in Erzurum (eastern Turkey) and was wounded. The journalist was hospitalised.
Four journalists threatened
On 19 May 2001 the car of the owner of the local newspaper, Yesil Niksar, Cemalettin Bilgin, was riddled with bullets by two men on motorbikes. An investigation was opened.
On 20 May Erdogan Kosar, journalist for the far-left daily, Yeni Evrensel, received a death threat by phone.
In the night of 27 August Ali Ekber Sen, correspondent in Mersin for the Dogan Press Agency (Dogan Haber Ajansi-DHA), received a phone call from Ahmet Serttas, who had just been released from prison after several months of detention for a case of corruption. Serttas threatened the journalist, "Whatever happens, I am going to kidnap you and take you to the mountain and eliminate you. You can consider yourself dead, because you humiliated us."
On 19 October Adnan Keskin, journalist for the daily Radikal, received a phone call from deputy and former Minister of the Interior, Mehmet Agar, telling him to stop talking about the Susurluk case, saying that "otherwise" his "friends (implicated in the case) might behave badly". On 17 October 2001 Adnan Keskin had published an article entitled "The Hidden Susurluk Affair", condemning the clemency that the Appeals Court might bestow on several highly placed police officials implicated in this affair. In 1996 a gangland leader, a police official and a deputy had been found together in the same vehicle after an accident in Susurluk, a small town near Balikesir in the west of the country. Only the deputy survived the accident. A stock of weapons was found in the car’s boot. The investigation at the time was quickly expedited because of public pressure and showed the collusion between certain police officials and criminal networks, as well as the existence of a system with the goal of eliminating opponents of the regime. Deputy Mehmet Agar, then Minister of the Interior, and the surviving deputy from the accident had been implicated but were able to use their parliamentary immunity to escape prosecution. On the other hand a trial was opened against several ranking officials and police officers for "misusing their positions" and "membership in a criminal organisation". On 24 October 2001 the appeals court ruled in favour of expanding the investigation.
Pressure and obstruction
On 24 January 2001, accused of publishing articles "threatening national security", the pro-Islamic daily, Yeni Asya (New Asia), was sentenced by State Security Court no. 1 in Istanbul to a month’s suspension by virtue of article 1, paragraph 1 of law 5680 regarding the press.
On 1 February State Security Court no. 1 in Istanbul found the pro-Kurd daily, Yeni Gundem, guilty of "breach of national security" and sentenced it to a month’s suspension by virtue of article 2, paragraph 1 of law 5680. On 11 September 2000 the newspaper had published an article quoting statements by the leaders of the Socialist Power Party (SIP) at a conference. Accused of publishing statements "inciting hatred and hostility through racial and regional discrimination", the editor-in-chief, Erdal Tas was given at the same trial a suspended sentence of twenty months in prison and fined 152 million LT (240 euros).
On 17 February the building in Istanbul housing the dailies Milliyet, Radikal, Posta and Fanatik was targeted by firearms. Bullets smashed windows in the building but caused no casualties.
On 19 March the issue of the regional pro-Kurd weekly, Firatta Yasam, was seized by the court in Gaziantep (in the country’s south-east) for "incitement to hatred and hostility through racial, religious, linguistic and regional discrimination".
On 16 April the Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Turk, referred to the Advertising Council, asking it to "do what is called for", following the publication in Radikal of an editorial by journalist Perihan Magden, accusing the authorities. The new president of the Turkish Journalists’ Association, Orhan Erinc, called the measure "economic censorship".
On 2 May the administration of the Turkish parliament banned accredited journalists from having access to certain areas of parliament. Deputies were said to have complained about articles accusing them of creating excessive costs in a time of economic crisis. A few days later the members of the Parliamentary Reporters Association succeeded in having this edict lifted.
On 3 May journalist Zeynel Abidin Kizilyaprak, publisher of the chronological album "From 1900 to 2000: The Kurds", offered as a supplement by the pro-Kurd daily, Ozgur Bakis, was sentenced to sixteen months in prison and fined 1,612,000,000 LT (about 1,660 euros) for having expressed "separatist ideas", punishable by article 8 of anti-terrorist law 3713. The incriminated album had been seized even before its distribution on 2 February 2000. The sentence was upheld by the appeals court on 14 May. Zeynel Abidin Kizilyaprak, then editorialist for the pro-Kurd weekly, Nuroj, had already been arrested on 28 February 1997 and released a few days later.
On 16 May the High Audio-visual Council suspended nine local radio stations and four television channels for a total of 392 days. Nationwide channel Kanal D was suspended for a day for "violating the presumption of innocence". Channel Kanal 6 was suspended for six days for having "expressed humiliating statements", "done harm to general proprieties, social tranquillity and the forming of the Turkish family". Channel Sanliurfa TV was suspended for fifteen days for "incitement to violence, terror and ethnic discrimination", as well as the radio stations Channel Malatya, Radio Arkadas, Marmara FM, Arifan Radyo and Cag FM, suspended respectively for 180, 90, 30 and 3 days. Accused of "making humiliating comments of persons or institutions", radio station Denge Radyo in Ankara was suspended for fifteen days, Arifan Radyo and Best FM in Istanbul for seven days and Radyo Ekin in Ankara for thirty-four days.
On 31 May the Minister of Justice, Hikmet Sami Turk, asked the Advertising Council to temporarily suspend the daily Radikal from advertising. On 1 June the Council decided to deprive the newspaper of advertising for five days. The incriminating articles appeared on 4 May and criticised the government’s prison policies.
In early June the Islamic daily, Yeni Asya (New Asia), was deprived of advertising for three days by the Advertising Council following a complaint filed by Ali Suat Ertosun, director general of the penitentiaries. The paper was accused of publishing an article criticising Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. The dailies, Sabah and Takvim, were punished respectively to four and two days of no advertising for having "circulatedimprecise and mocking news" about a company,AlbayrakSAandone of its executives, Nuri Albayrak.
On 19 June the no. 2 State Security Court in Istanbul fined the leftwing daily, Yeni Evrensel, to a three-day suspension for having published in the issue of 25 December 2000 an article criticising the Minister of Justice, Hijmet Sami Turk. The owner, Favzi Saygili, was fined 594,360,000 LT (600 euros) and the editor-in-chief, Bulent Falakaoglu, 297,180,000 LT (300 euros).
On 20 June, the High Audiovisual Council announced that the local radio station in Ankara, Radio Imaj ("Image") was suspended for a week starting on 9 July 2001 for having broadcast Kurdish music. The station was accused of violating paragraph "t" of article 4 of law 3984, which bans the use of the Kurdish language.
On 21 June the no. 1 appeals court in Mersin gave Guler Yildiz, editor-in-chief of the local leftwing weekly, Cinar ("Plain Tree"), a ten-month suspended sentence. Guler Yildiz was accused of "insult and mockery of the state’s armed forces", by virtue of article 159 of the penal code, following an article presenting and commenting on the work, "The Book of Mehmet" by journalist Nadire Mater, who had also been prosecuted but acquitted on 16 April.
On 27 June 2001 the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, was forbidden access to and distribution in the emergency area. Since 23 June 2001, when it first appeared, the newspaper has been seized five times.
On 3 July an object was thrown at the offices of the Islamic daily, Yeni Safak (New Dawn) in Bayrampasa (Istanbul). An investigation was launched.
On 18 July the State Security Court no. 2 in Istanbul fined the far-left daily, Yeni Evrensel, with two days of suspension for an article condemning "the intervention and pressure by the authorities on the Kurd language and question". Accused of "incitement to hatred and hostility by racial and regional discrimination", the editor-in-chief, Bulent Falakaoglu, was fined 2,403,000,000 LT (2,040 euros) in the same case.
On 23 July the far-left daily, Gunluk Evrensel, was forbidden access to and distribution in the emergency area.
On 24 July Ali Suat Ertosun, director general of prisons, condemned the newspaper, Radikal, for several articles about the hunger strikes and the poor treatment meted out in prison. He filed for the partial seizure of the newspaper’s advertising revenue.
On 8 August the High Audiovisual Council banned the rebroadcasting of BBC World and Deutsche Welle radio programmes by two Turkish FM stations, NTV Radyo and Baris Radyo. Convinced that the measure went counter to the European Convention on Rebroadcasting of which Turkey is a signatory, on 3 September the President of the Press Council, Nuri Kayis, referred to the administrative court to have this decision nullified. On 23 October administrative court no. 7 in Ankara threw out Nuri Kayis’s request, declaring that there was no "connection of interest" between Nuri Kayis and the High Audiovisual Council’s decision. On 18 October the Council granted a thirty-day period for NTV Radyo and Radyo Baris to stop rebroadcasting the programmes of the Turkish section of the BBC and Deutsche Welle.
On 21 August the collection of special reports by journalist Celal Baslangic of Radikal, called "The Temple of Fear", was seized by order of the Attorney General in Istanbul. The book contains eye-witness accounts that accuse the state in the massacres committed in the south-eastern region of the country in the conflict pitting the Turkish army against PKK militants, the Workers Party of Kurdistan. The journalist was accused of "unfair and imprecise statements about the military" and of "mockery and insult of the Turkish armed forces". He was to appear on 25 January 2002 before the no. 2 crown court in Istanbul.
On 22 August a bomb exploded in the entrance to the offices of Isci Gazetesi (The Workers’ Journal) in Izmir. The attack caused only material damage.
Following on its meetings of the 13, 27 and 28 August, the High Audiovisual Council punished fourteen local radio and television stations with a total of 518 days of suspension. Also accused of infringing on the broadcasting principles laid out in the paragraphs of article 4 of law 3984, seventeen other audiovisual bodies received warnings. Mihr Radyo was punished with 365 days of suspension for having made "statements denouncing people for their race, their sexual practices, their social class or their beliefs".
On 10 September the Islamic daily, Yeni Asya (New Asia) stopped publishing until 10 October. The appellate court upheld the fine of one month’s suspension handed down by the no. 1 State Security Court in Istanbul. Accused by virtue of article 312, paragraph 2 of the penal code, the newspaper was accused of having published an article "inciting hatred and hostility by racial, class and religious discrimination". The article appeared on 7 October 1999.
On 25 September the Diyarbakir offices of the periodicals, Dema Nu and Deng, printed in Istanbul in Turkish and Kurd, were searched by the police as part of an operation concerning publications banned in the emergency area (the country’s south-east).
On 28 September the Istanbul local radio station, Ozgur Radyo (Free Radio) was ordered to suspend operations for two weeks for broadcasting a listener’s comments about political prisoners and "type-F" prisons during a talk show. The station was accused of spreading statements that "incited violence and ethnical discrimination and provoked feelings of hatred in society".
On 2 October local radio station, Radyo Ses (Voice Radio) was suspended for seven days by the High Audiovisual Council for having played Kurdish music. Accused of violating the principle laid out in paragraph "t" of article 4 of law 3984, the station broke off its broadcasts on 6 November.
On 2 October Serif Erol, manager of Istanbul radio station, Acik Radyo, was acquitted. Tried by virtue of article 312, paragraph 2 of the penal code by the no. 4 State Security Court of Istanbul, the journalist stood accused of having broadcast Armenian music in the country’s south-eastern Mus region on 7 October 2000.
On 3 October journalist Nese Duzel, and his editor-in-chief, Hasan Cakkalkurt, appeared for the third time before the judge. They were accused of "incitement to hatred by religious discrimination" in an interview published in the daily, Radikal, on 8 January 2001. The person interviewed was Murtaza Demir, president of a foundation in Alevis (recognised as belonging to progressive Moslems). The journalists were prosecuted by virtue of article 312, paragraph 2 of the penal code and risked from two to six years in jail.
On 4 October the appeals court upheld a twenty-month prison sentence against Islamic journalist Emine Senlikoglu, accused of "incitement to hatred by religious discrimination". Emine Senlikoglu is known for her very critical stances against the civil Turkish regime. She had already been found guilty by the State Security Court of Izmir for her statements made in May 2000 on a local private television station in Antalya. During a programme she had said, "The state treats us like naughty children and would rather worry about the Islamic veil. That gives us the right to declare war on it." Emine Senlikoglu has written several books about women’s roles in Islam.
On 8 October the latest issue of the weekly, Batman Ekspres, was seized by the Batman correctional court. The authorities accused it of not publishing the newspaper’s new office address within the legal time-frame. According to the editor-in-chief, Mehmet Sah Ayaz, the real reason for the seizure was an editorial that angered the Batman chief administrative officer, Isa Parlak. The newspaper was able to resume appearing on 15 October.
On 10 October Duygu Asena, editorialist for the daily, Milliyet (Nationality), and its editor-in-chief, Eren Guvener, were acquitted by the no. 3 State Security Court of Istanbul. Duygu Asena and Eren Guvener were prosecuted for "making propaganda for an illegal organisation" because of an article in which the journalist referred to a letter written by a political prisoner.
On 10 October the High Audiovisual Council suspended the programmes of the television channel, Kanal D, for three days and the programmes of StarTV, Kanal 6 and KralTV for six days. Falling victim of paragraph "k" of article 4 of law 3984, these stations were accused of being "in the service of private interests".
On 12 October Emre Kongar, editorialist of the republican daily, Cumhuriyet (Republic), and Fikret Ilkiz, its editor-in-chief, were acquitted by the court. They were accused by virtue of article 159 of the penal code of "mockery and insult of the parliament’s spiritual personality" following the publication of an editorial, "How 550 Untouchables Have Destroyed a Civilisation", in the 2 April issue of the daily.
On October 12 the local daily, Batman Dogus, had its publication suspended by the Batman correctional court following a complaint lodged by the city’s administrative centre. The paper’s executives were accused of having published articles in the Kurdish language for four days. The paper’s owner, Hamdullah Uyanik, said that he had forewarned the administration of the use of Kurdish in his paper. He appealed the decision in Batman and had the suspension lifted.
On 12 October Ahmet Altan, editorialist for the weekly, Aktuel, and his editor-in-chief, Murat Tunali, were arraigned before the no. 2 appeals court of Sultanahmet in Istanbul, accused of "mockery and insults of the Turkish armed forces" for having written and published two editorials, "Try These Generals" and "The Generals of All Turkey, To Your Barracks", in the 9 November 2000 issue. The journalists were risking from one to six years imprisonment by virtue of article 159 of the penal code. They were acquitted, a ruling that was upheld in mid-June by the courts.
In mid-October the Qatar-based Arab satellite channel, Al Jazira, was refused permission to broadcast in Turkey by cable. In its refusal, Turkish Telekom cited the answer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, indicating that on the one hand the audience for an Arab channel was limited in Turkey and, on the other, that Al Jazira may be a channel close to Islamic organisations.
On 31 October the Diyarbakir police seized the equipment of the local radio station, Gun Radyo (Radio Day) saying that the radio’s operations disturbed radio-telephone communications and that the station’s officials had not interrupted their broadcasts when warned.
On 2 November Ali Bayramoglu, former editorialist for the daily, Sabah (Morning), was acquitted by the no. 2 crown court of Istanbul in four trials against him for "mockery and insults of the Turkish armed forces" (article 159 of the penal code), following the publication of four editorials that in particular talked about the disappearance of two leaders of the pro-Kurd HADEP Party in the country’s south-east. The journalist risked six years in jail for each charge. In his closing speech the prosecutor, Nurten Altinok, declared that "criticising is a democratic right".
On 7 November several journalists, including Ozlem Dinler, of the leftish daily, Gunluk Evrensel, and several cameramen were prevented from getting to the Alibeykoy area of Istanbul where the press had been invited to a conference held by hunger strikers.
On 9 November the trial of Erol Ozkoray, founder and editor-in-chief of the quarterly review, Idea Politika, opened in Istanbul’s penal court. He was being tried by virtue of article 159 of the penal code for "insulting the army" and "insulting the Republic". In a series of articles the journalist had analysed the role played by the Turkish army in institutions, its political omnipresence and its economic weight that prevent a proper democratisation of the country, candidate for membership in the European Union. For just the one article published in March 2001, entitled "Permanent Coup d’Etat and Turkish Style Democracy", Erol Ozkoray risked twelve years imprisonment. Two other legal proceedings were opened against him. The cumulative punishment for the various trials added up to thirty years. The autumn issue of Idea Politika, "What Is the Army For?", was banned from being published on 14 September 2001 by the Ministry of Justice upon a request from the armed forces Chief of Staff. On 4 October 2001 Istanbul’s second penal court lifted the ban on publication. Erol Ozkoray feels that "we are faced with the army’s fury because it is afraid of the European Union, therefore of democracy. The army wants to prevent Turkey’s entering the European Union, for it will lose all its power and its right of monitoring the political system". As of 1 January 2002, the trial was on-going.
On 9 November Gultekin Kaya, editor-in-chief of the leftist nationalist weekly, Yeni Aydinklik (New Clarity), and Ugur Yildirim, author of a report called "We Denounced the Chiefs of Staff to the German Minister", published on 1 July 2001, appeared before no. 2 crown court of Istanbul for "mockery and insult of the Turkish armed forces". Gultekin Kaya said that "the critical statements are the result of press freedom and were published in this respect". The trial is on-going.
On 14 November the high appeals court, in response to an appeal, ordered a widened investigation after the sentencing to forty months imprisonment on 23 march 2000 of Coskun Ak, official of an interactive forum on the Superonline Internet site. Coskun Ak had been found guilty of "mockery of and insults to the Republic, the armed forces and the justice system" by Istanbul’s no. 4 crown court, for not having withdrawn a text on the infringements of human rights in Turkey from the interactive forum.
On 14 November the High Audiovisual Council suspended the programmes of the nation-wide network, StarTV, for a two-week period. The network’s directors were accused of violating the principle that bans the broadcasting of programmes "in the service of private interests’ (paragraph "k" of article 4 of law 3984). Radio station Radyo D was punished for the same reason for a seven-day period.
On 23 November Gulay Gokturk, journalist of the daily, Sabah (Morning), accused of "mockery of and insults to the Turkish armed forces" by virtue of article 159 of the penal code was acquitted. In an editorial called "Black Hole in the South East" the journalist dealt with cases where members of the pro-Kurd HADEP Party disappeared.
On 28 November Fehmi Koru, editorialist for the Islamic daily, Yeni Safak, appeared before the no. 2 State Security Court of Istanbul, accused of "openly inciting to hostility by racial, regional, religious, linguistic and class discrimination" in a programme aired on 12 October 1999 on the Islamic channel, Kanal 7. The journalist risked from two to six years in jail by virtue of article 312, paragraph 2 of the penal code. In his closing speech the prosecutor, Mustafa Erol, said that the journalist "divided the people into believers and non-believers". The next court appearance is set for 5 March 2002.
On 29 November the prosecutor of the State Security Court of Istanbul issued search warrants of thirty-one organisations and publications suspected of supporting the PKK, including the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, the periodicals, Yasamda Atilim and Kizil Bayrak. Hakan Kemaloglu, a Yedinci Gundem journalist, was arrested at the newspaper’s Istanbul offices and freed the same evening. The special police occupied the offices of the far-left weekly, Alinteri. They seized computer equipment, archives and kept visitors from entering.
On 3 December the Islamic daily, Akit (Accor), very critical of the authorities, printed its final issue. The newspaper’s officers declared the paper had been financially strangled by the government.
On 6 December the Sisli correctional court decided to suspend the website of the quarterly review, Idea Politika, www.ideapolitika.com. The manager, Erol Özkoray, is convinced that this punishment came from the military chiefs of staff, as does most of the pressure put on the review.
The 11 December issue of the new Islamic daily, Anadolu’da Vakit (Anatolian Times) was seized on the very same day by the prosecutor of the no. 3 State Security Court in Istanbul because of a article criticising the Ministry of Education.
On 14 December journalists of the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, Zeriman Dagdelen, Ihsan Polat, Bayram Aslan, Fatih Atabey and Haydar Sahin, along with two of the paper’s executives and a driver, were arrested while entering the Bakirkoy neighbourhood of Istanbul. Although they had shown their press credentials, they were taken to Bakirkoy’s main police station where they were detained for more than four hours.
On 19 December the offices of the local newspaper, Kent Bazetesi (Urban Journal) published in Kilis, were attacked by automatic weapons. Unidentified assailants shot several times at the paper’s windows, then ran away. The paper’s owner, Ahmed Barutcu, is also an officer in the Kilis Journalists’ Association.
On 22 December the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci Gundem, was seized by order of the prosecutor of the State Security Court of Istanbul for "propaganda on behalf of the illegal PKK organisation".
On 24 December the first hearing of journalist Irgan Ucar, had of the intelligence department of the pro-Kurd weekly, Yedinci
Gundem, opened before the no. 2 court of Beyoglu in Istanbul.
The journalist was accused of "mockery of and insults to the Republic and the Turkish armed forces" by virtue of article 159 of the penal code, for an article about the prosecution of Idea Politika journalist, Erol Ozkoray. Irfan Ucar stressed the censorship affecting journalists and public opinion.
Hüseyin Kivrikoglu, the armed forces Chief of Staff, has been denounced as a predator of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders