Turkey16 November 2007
Military court bans coverage of case of eight soldiers accused of insubordination
Reporters Without Borders today condemned an order issued on 12 November by a military court in the eastern city of Van banning any media reports, comments or criticism of an investigation into eight soldiers held on suspicion of “persistent insubordination,” abandoning their positions and failing to fight as ordered against guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The soldiers were arrested after being released on 4 November by the PKK, which had captured them during an attack on a Turkish army position near the Iraqi border on 21 October.
“This ban on reports, comments or criticism is above a reflection of the army’s concern to preserve its image and prevent the public from knowing what soldiers think and experience far from the army high command,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The media have the right and duty to report what is happening in the Iraqi border region and to report the views of the men fighting there.”
The court order, which applies to all print and broadcast media, has been posted on the website of the Council for Broadcast Monitoring (RTÜK) since 13 November. It was issued after some of the detained soldiers’ statements were published in the Turkish press on 12 November. They said they had been short of ammunition and some of their guns had stopped working. Two of them gave interviews to a Kurdish television station, Roj TV, while they were captives.
Three weeks ago, on 23 October, the government banned all “negative” programmes about the death of 12 soldiers during the offensive in which the eight were taken prisoner. The council of state rescinded the order the next day on the grounds that it was too vague.
Three French journalists covering events in the region were arrested as they tried to cross from Turkey into Iraq at the Harbour border crossing on 24 October.