NEWS CENTER - DFG Co-chair Serdar Altan, who is among the 16 journalists arrested in Diyarbakır, stated that Kurdish journalists were targeted and said, "We did not know what we were accused of when we were detained, and unfortunately we still do not know what we are accused of."
While reactions to the arrest of 16 journalists in Diyarbakır continue, speaking to Evrensel Newspaper through his lawyer, Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) Co-chair Serdar Altan who is held in Diyarbakır Type D Prison spoke about the unlawfulness they were subjected to.
Stating that their houses were raided even though it is well known that they would never have fleed in the face of an investigation, Altan said: "They stormed our houses. Ofcourse they could not find any elements of any crime. They confiscated our cell phones anyway along with some CD's full of photos I long forgot about. In a short time we realised that a lot of our friends were picked up. There was a restriction order on our file so we did not know what we were accused of. We still don't."
'THE SUPPORT OF OUR COLLEAGUES WAS SUBLIME'
Stating that they were not subjected to any serious ill-treatment under custody, Altan said: "The arbitrary practices of the police officers made the detention period unbearable to a point. We frequently recieved news from outside via our lawyers. We were hearing that there was a great solidarity out there. Even though the press professional organisations had a shy attitude, we knew our colleagues were there for us and it was sublime."
19 HOURS IN THE COURTHOUSE
Regarding the long hours under custody, Altan said: "The detention period turned into torture and punishment instead of a precaution. We understood that they were trying to deactivate us, prevent us from working when the detention period was extended. They detained us for 8 days unlawfully. The absolute worse was the courthouse. We spent 19 hours in the courthouse. It was hard to see a place which was built to dispence justice was being used as a theater stage."
'JOURNALISM IS ON TRIAL!'
Stating that the police tried to keep them waiting in police vehicles in front of the courthouse until the peosecutor's interrogation, Altan told that upon the insistance of their lawyers, the journalists were taken to the courthouse jail.
Stating that they knew the interrogation will take a long time since they used their right to remain silent during the police interrogation, Altan said: "They had cooked up a narrative just to be able to arrest us. But it was falling apart as we spoke. We were journalists and it was not us on trial, it was journalism they wanted to prosecute. And that was what happened. 16 journalists were arrested and sent to jail at that court room."
KURDISH JOURNALISTS WERE TARGETED
Underlining that weekly Kurdish newspaper Xwebun was put out of commission after the operation and all their belongings were confiscared, Altan said: "Even though it was an attack on journalism, the journalists targeted with this operation were Kurdish journalists. What was done to Xwebun is a clear proof of this."
CALL FROM ALTAN
Underlining that this injustice will not be able to silence the free press, Altan made the following call: "We will continue to write wherever we are. If we can't there will be generations of journalists to follow our steps as we followed the ones before us. Free press will continue to disturb them. We can make it with solidarity of course. We are calling on to all our colleagues and press organisations to step up the solidarity and be louder in our demands. And we want to thank everyone who supported us. Let's not forget, journalism is not a crime!"