ISTANBUL – Several thousand people demonstrated for press freedom on Sunday in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Since two prominent journalists were arrested last week for alleged involvement in plans to topple the AKP government, solidarity among Turkish journalists is on the rise.
The demand for press freedom was reinforced by carrying portraits of arrested journalists. So far 68 journalists are behind bars in Turkey, among them Kurds who wrote about the Kurdish question, but also more and more reporters who are allegedly somehow connected to Ergenekon, a group of, among others, (ex)military personnel who supposedly plot against the government.
Since the Ergenekon investigations began in 2007, mainly journalists have been arrested who were strongly against the AKP and pro-army. The investigative journalists arrested last week, however, are among the ones who first published about the coup plans and are considered by everybody to be beyond suspicion. Many journalists carried the slogan“I was silent, but now they came for me“. Not only the arrests are a problem, but also the long remands: some journalists have been in jail for over two years without the prospect of the actual trial starting any time soon.
The head of the Platform for Press Freedom, Ercan Ipekci, called for the immediate release of all journalists. The police kept their distance during the demonstration.