To mark Nedim Türfent’s 1500th day behind bars, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and International Press Institute (IPI) hosted a panel on June 21, 2020 with journalists Mehveş Evin, Nurcan Baysal, former Member of European Parliament (MEP) Rebecca Harms, and Pete Weatherby QC from Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales (BHRC).
After MLSA Co-Director Barış Altıntaş’s opening remarks, journalist Baysal spoke about how hard it is to practice journalism in Turkey, especially for a Kurdish journalist. She said, “Making your voice heard is very difficult, not just to the international community but within Turkey too. After George Floyd’s murder, Turkish public has also started to discuss and criticize racism in the U.S. But no one looks at the structural racism in Turkey, what’s happening in their home country. Being Kurdish is criminalized in Turkey.”
‘No independent judiciary is left in Turkey’
After Baysal’s speech, former MEP Harms criticized the amnesty bill Turkey passed due to COVID-19 pandemic and said, “Murderers and thieves are better off than elected politician Selahattin Demirtaş, award-winning writer Ahmet Altan, internationally renowned civil society figure Osman Kavala, who all remained in prison. No independent judiciary is left in Turkey. There could still be some independent judges, but there is no independent judiciary. There is no justice for journalists, only politically motivated revenge wanted by Erdoğan and his entourage.”
Noting how Türfent became the target of state officials after he reported the mistreatment of civilians by the security forces, journalist Evin stated, “Being a journalist in Turkey is like walking in a minefield. Even writing about the First Lady’s Hermes bag and how much it costs can be the reason you get jailed now. You never know what may result in an investigation against you.”
The final speech of the panel was delivered by Weatherby, who underscored the fact that the coup attempt was used as a pretext to further the assault on independent journalists and added, “That has progressed, it would be right to say that it got worse and recent arrests show that this can go further.”