Message from imprisoned women journalists: We never owed obedience to the oppressors

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  • 12:42 29 November 2022
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ANKARA - Stating that the attacks on journalists are not independent of the increased pressure and attacks of the AKP-MHP government against the Kurds, the detained female journalists said, “We have never owed obedience to the oppressors. They will not be able to silence us."
Women journalists who were detained under torture on October 24 as part of the Ankara-based investigation and who were arrested by the court on October 29 for their journalistic activities, Mezopotamya Agency (MA) Editor-in-Chief Diren Yurtsever, reporters Berivan Altan and Ceylan Şahinli, and JINNEWS reporters Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer sent a message from the Sincan Women's Closed Prison.
Emphasizing that "9 journalists were arrested in the 99th year of the Republic on October 29", Habibe Eren drew attention to the fact that the operation against journalists contained a symbolic message. Eren reminded that many press institutions, including JINHA and DİHA, were closed with the Law Decrees (KHK) during the State of Emergency (OHAL) that was declared after the July 15, 2016 Coup Attempt and that the pressure on the press cannot be limited with the objection of only one segment of the society. Eren said: "That's why the society and all segments need to raise their voices before these unlawfulnesses are normalised.”
Diren Yurtsever underlined that they were arrested for their journalistic activities and said, "We have never owed obedience to the oppressırs," and stated that they were targeted for this reason. Yurtsever said, “We have ensured the right of the society to receive news even in the most critical times, and we have not taken a step back from doing what is necessary for journalism. We are tired of saying that we are journalists every time we are attacked, but we are not tired of doing journalism. We, the followers of the Free Press tradition, say that we will not back down, we will not bow down, and we will continue to defend and fight for the freedom of the press. It is a principled attitude and responsibility to defend the freedom of the press for everyone who wants a fair, free and equal future."
Drawing attention to the violations of rights and mise-en-scène that were reflected to the public during the arrest of the journalists, Ceylan Şahinli stated that the TEM chief cried with joy after the announcement of their arrest and said, "Just this detail alone shows what kind of a political and hateful mise-en-scène it was. We know well that this anger and hatred is directed against our Kurdish identity as well as our journalistic identity. They are trying to discipline us with prisons because they know they can't do it while we are outside. However, it should not be forgotten that we come from the tradition of the Free Press, which they could not silence with dozens of murders and we will not be silenced as well.”
Berivan Altan, who said, "As a Kurdish and female journalist, I defended my profession with my head held high against their attempts to force my head down during detention,"  and noted that they were arrested as a part of the repression policies against the Free Press since the 90s. Altan's message continued as follows: "Even though they tried to convey the message that they are the masters, they faced a peoples that never bowed down. And we, the free press, as the voice of the silenced Kurds, Alevis, and all those marginalised, promise that we will continue to be the voice of the people. They may have put us behind bars but they can never silence our pens."
Expressing that the arrest of 9 journalists as the elections approach was a part of the "spiral of chaos" into which the country was dragged, Öznur Değer stated that the attacks on journalists were not independent of the government's insistence on the insolvency of the Kurdish problem and the increasing pressure and attack on the Kurds. Değer said, “We understand why we were arrested and we know that the government seeks a solution by trying to silence the Free Press. On October 25, a political mise-en-scène was played, in which the Ankara Police Department was an actor, by the order of the government. However, the slogan 'The Free Press Cannot Be Silenced' echoed in the Ankara Courthouse after our arrest decision and once again showed that the voice of the press cannot be silenced with handcuffs. Even though the fact that we shouted out the facts, we wrote the things people does not dare to write about and we defend the people's right to receive news was the subject of our prosecution, we will continue to do our jobs like Ape Musa and Gurbetelli Ersöz wherever we are."

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