The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Team paid a visit to journalist Ziya Ataman, who has been imprisoned at the Van High Security prison complex since 2016. Relaying that his health is relatively better now, Ataman shared that he is very concerned about his colleagues who were arrested in Diyarbakır on June 16th. Ataman stated that he himself had gone through a similar process and that there is an attempt to finish off journalism in the region through criminal investigations and lawsuits. Ataman continued: “What does it mean to arrest 16 journalists in an obviously unlawful manner? This is an attempt to eradicate journalism in the field and in the region. Especially at a time when politicians, political party representatives visit Diyarbakır daily and when the country and the region is struggling with an economic crisis…”
Ataman said that he learned that the criminal investigation which resulted in the arrest of 16 journalists was based on “membership of a terrorist organization” accusation which he himself had faced and was convicted of. Saying that the questions posed to journalists were baseless and typical, Ataman continued: “They asked journalists why they are interested in Kurdish issue, why do they care about it. Furthermore, the prosecutor asked a journalist why he used the word ‘dungeon’ instead of a ‘prison’. There is another meaning of arresting 16 journalists with questions like these: We have no reasonable cause to arrest you but we will still arrest you and we will do this blatantly. Last time, it was Gulenists who had arrested Kurdish journalists en masse and arbitrarily. It was actually Gulenists who came up with the ‘KCK Press’ accusation which was also used against 16 journalists arrested in Diyarbakır. Gulenists are gone but the judicial harassment targeting Kurdish journalists is still carried out over plots they came up with.”
Saying that some organizations which are active in the fields of press freedom and freedom of expression chose to stay silent, Ataman stated: “It is quite difficult to comprehend why some organizations and institutions remain silent. I wonder if they see and know things to which we do not have access here. Is it so difficult to see that this is a comprehensive violation of the press freedom and freedom of expression? Or are they still hiding behind the shallowness of ‘It is different with Kurdish journalists…’? I hope that cliché is not still valid outside…”
Saying that he does not know what to think about the fact that his arrested colleagues will now be able to send him more letters, Ataman said: “They will send me more letters now. I caught myself being happy about it. I laughed but also felt a bit ashamed. But I will keep this from them.”
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