Chronology of Events

April 2012

30 April 2012

Amnesty International report highlights prejudices against Muslims
Source:  SETimes Turkey
Date: 30 April 2012
Muslims in several European countries face discrimination in daily life, the Amnesty International report says.
Amnesty International published a report titled "Choice and Prejudice: Discrimination against Muslims in Europe," explaining how Muslims in several European countries face discrimination in daily life, especially with employment and education.

29 April 2012

When Hacktivism Strikes, Turkey Pulls the Plug of the Internet
Source:  The Istanbulian
Date: 29 April 2012
On Friday night, a vast majority of Turks was disconnected from the Internet for a couple of hours.
We have recently discovered what had actually happened that night, after a few denials from the government side.

UN Report on Violence Against Women
Source: Kamil Pasha
Date: 29 April 2012
Some comparative numbers about violence against women. (click here for the full New York Times article) There is a link to the UN report.

Indictment of Journalists in Court
Source:  Bianet
Date: 29 April 2012
Third Istanbul KCK indictment, which included 36 arrested, 44 suspects -most of them journalists- was prepared and sent to the court. Arrested journalists had told bianet “why they were in prison”.

28 April 2012

TV watchdog launches new rating inspections
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 28 April 2012
A new draft of regulations for Turkey’s TV rating system, which said the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) will introduce a strict inspection mechanism, has been presented by RTÜK head Davut Dursun.

26 April 2012

bianet “The Best News Website of the Year''
Source:  Bianet
Date: 26 April 2012
bianet received ‘the best news website award’ at the "Journalism Achievement Awards” of Turkish Journalists Association.

25 April 2012

Violence, This Time Against Women Lawyers
Source: Kamil Pasha
Date: 25 April 2012
Profession and social class clearly don’t protect women from violence. For women lawyers, the violence and discrimination follow them to the workplace. There has also been a spate recently reported in the news of doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers being attacked by the relatives of patients. Neighbors burning down the houses of  the Roma community in Manisa in 2010, lynch attempts against Kurdish citizens.

21 April 2012

After denial
Source:  Todayszaman
Date: 21 April 2012
Following racist remarks by Emre Belözoğlu during a recent game, the famous false truth that racism is alien to this country has resurfaced.

20 April 2012

Women rights, gender discussed in Istanbul
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 20 April 2012
More than 2,000 women from 140 different countries gathered in Istanbul yesterday to discuss women’s rights in economic development.

No Budget for Women's Struggle in Turkey
Source:  Bianet
Date: 20 April 2012
Ülker from Women's Solidarity Foundation, Taylı from Organization of Women's Shelters, Ömür Yılmaz from KAHDEM (Central Organization for Women Legal Support) and Nihal Yakın from Women's Solidarity Association of Izmir participated to AWID and talked about “Improving concrete proposals and feminist policies for the violence against women”.

19 April 2012

Erdoğan, media mogul inaugurate İstanbul mall
Source:  Todayszaman
Date: 19 April 2012
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and chief of Turkey’s largest media holding Aydın Doğan attended a lavish opening ceremony to inaugurate Trump Towers Mall in İstanbul on Thursday.

18 April 2012

Freedom of Speech? Not if You’re a Turkish Student
Date: 18 April 2012
Recently, a group of faculty set up a white board outside a prison in Northwestern Turkey and proceeded to give lectures.  The students, unfortunately, were inside the prison and not allowed to attend.

Turkish PM Accuses Syria of Holding Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun Prisoner
Source:  IPI
Date: 18 April 2012
VIENNA, April 18, 2012 – IPI today expressed alarm at suggestions that Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun have been in the custody of Syrian authorities since March 10, and that at least one of them, according to news reports, may have been tortured.

Turkish PM Accuses Syria of Holding Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun Prisoner
Source: International Press Institute (IPI)
Date: 18 April 2012
VIENNA, April 18, 2012 – IPI today expressed alarm at suggestions that Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun have been in the custody of Syrian authorities since March 10, and that at least one of them, according to news reports, may have been tortured. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday said that Syria was holding the journalists prisoner and must “answer for this”, according to news reports.  “We are deeply alarmed at suggestions that Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun appear to be in the custody of the Syrian government, and that at least one of the two journalists may have been tortured,” said IPI Acting Deputy Director Anthony Mills. “If the two journalists are in fact in the hands of the authorities then they must be released immediately, along with all of the other Syrian reporters who have been detained. Furthermore, those responsible for maltreatment in any form must be held accountable.”

17 April 2012

Savda: Nationalist and Militaristic Judiciary in Turkey
Source:  Bianet
Date: 17 April 2012
Conscientious objector Halil Savda made a statement after he was released from the prison by Probation Law. He said he was sentenced due to “alienating the public from military service” because of the high nationalist and militaristic sensitivity of the judiciary.

Again the Same Combination: The Banner and the Prison
Source:  Bianet
Date: 17 April 2012
Two women, a student and a teacher that unfurl a banner written "We do not want the missile shield , we want a democratic high school” arrested with many accusations like “terrorist propaganda” and they are in prison for 4 months.

16 April 2012

The third week of Media School is completed Source:  Media Association
Date: 16 April 2012
In the third week of the Media School, Erhan Sevenler from Anatolia New Agency and Metehan Demir, Ankara representative of the Hürriyet newspaper, Akın Emre Kara Gülle from Samanyolu News TV and Cemil Ertem, a columnist at Star newspaper lectured.
In his presentation, Erhan Sevenler talked about measures the journalist should take in disaster zones. Advising the participants to learn the language and some important traditions of the countries that they would go as a journalist, Sevenler noted that a good phonograph does not need caption.

14 April 2012

Released Turkish publisher beginning protest of silence
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 14 April 2012
Ragıp Zarakolu, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate, publisher and activist who was recently released from prison after months of incarceration on terrorism-related charges, is beginning a protest of silence to avoid being used to normalize Turkey’s “abnormal” justice system.

13 April 2012

Racism to be denied on 1915 anniversary
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 13 April 2012
Two nongovernmental organizations have sprung into action to stage a series of demonstrations to commemorate the forced deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and denounce racism, as the 97th anniversary of the events draws near.

Hrant Dink jurists face penalty
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 13 April 2012
Judicial authorities have recommended that disciplinary proceedings be launched against the judge and the prosecutor in the Hrant Dink murder trial for statements they made following the case’s controversial verdict in January, an official said yesterday.

12 April 2012

Arrest warrent for coup participants
Source:  Fréderike Geerdink
Date: 12 April 2012
ISTANBUL – In Turkey on Thursday morning arrest warrants were issued for the perpetrators of the ‘post-modern coup’ that ended the government of Prime Minister Erbakan in 1997. House searches were carried out at more than 31 addresses, according to Turkish media reports.

11 April 201

ECHR Condemns Turkey Regarding Use of Pepper Gas in Peaceful Protest
Source:  Bianet
Date: 11 April 2012
Turkey is to pay 11500 euro to Ali Güneş for violating Article 3 of the convention on human rights. Güneş was sprayed with pepper gas in close range and forcefully taken under custody in 2004.

Publisher Zarakolu released from prison
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 11 April 2012
A specially authorized Istanbul court ruled yesterday to release prominent publisher and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu and 14 others who had been arrested in connection with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials.

Source:  Xindex
Date: 11 April 2012
Eminent Turkish free expression champion Ragip Zarakolu was freed from prison in Turkey pending trial along with 14 others yesterday. Zarakolu, director of the Belge Publishing House, which has published works on taboo subjects such as the Armenian genocide and minority rights in Turkey, was arrested last October as part of a crackdown on those accused of supporting the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). He was indicted on 19 March under Turkish anti-terrorism laws for “aiding and abetting an illegal organisation,” a charge that could carry a 15-year sentence.

Internet crime on the rise in Turkey
Source:  SES Türkie
Date: 11 April 2012
Officials say widespread internet access has led to tremendous business opportunities and gains, but also to corresponding opportunities for criminals.
Three out of four business crimes in Turkey are conducted online, and national and international regulations to address the problem are urgently needed, according to Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim.
E-trade in Turkey doubled compared to last year, but online business crime has skyrocketed as well. [Reuters]
"The internet means freedom, but ignoring security on this issue is out of the question," Yildirim said.

10 April 2012

Ragıp Zarakolu Released
Source:  Bianet
Date: 10 April 2012
15 suspects of the first KCK case, including publisher Ragip Zarakolu, are released today. The names of the released are listed below.

Publisher Zarakolu among 15 released pending trial in KCK case
Source:  Bianet
Date: 10 April 2012
Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), was released pending trial on Tuesday along with 14 other suspects in the case.

Publisher Ragip Zarakolu released pending trial
Source:  PEN American Center/IFEX
Date: 10 April 2012
PEN American Center today welcomed the news that Ragip Zarakolu, one of Turkey's preeminent free expression champions, was among 15 freed from prison in Turkey pending trial, calling his release “a hopeful sign and a clear indication of the value of international attention and concern.” PEN cautioned, however, that Zarakolu still faces trial on charges that carry a heavy prison sentence and that scores of other writers and intellectuals remain imprisoned. 

Ragip Zarakolu is the longtime director of the Belge Publishing House, which for more than three decades has challenged publishing taboos on subjects such as the Armenian genocide and minority rights in Turkey. Zarakolu is also chair of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the Turkish Publishers Association, and a member of the Turkish PEN Center. Zarakolu was arrested on October 28, 2011, in an ongoing sweep targeting scores of journalists, politicians, and others accused of supporting the new-banned Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). He was indicted on March 19, 2012, under Turkey's vague anti-terrorism laws for “aiding and abetting an illegal organization,” a charge which could carry a 15-year sentence. Zarakolu was released today along with 14 co-defendants, two days before a delegation of Swedish parliamentarians that nominated Zarakolu for this year's Nobel Peace Prize is due to arrive in Turkey. 

Turkey has a history of using overly broad national security and anti-terrorism laws to stifle speech, and PEN has expressed alarm at a resurgence of this trend in the last two years. Dozens of writers and journalists have been jailed in waves of arrests of alleged KCK supporters and of alleged supporters of a right-wing coup attempt. Most remain in prison, including Professor Büsra Ersanli, who stands accused of “leading an illegal organization” and faces up to 22.5 years in prison, Zarakolu's son Deniz Zarakolu, and 115 others named in the March 19, 2012 indictment. 

“We are pleased to welcome our friend and colleague Ragip Zarakolu home after more than five months behind bars at Kocaeli Prison,” said Larry Siems, director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “His release is a poignant reminder of the value of international solidarity and pressure, and we thank everyone who has worked on his behalf.” 

“Where Ragip's arrest raised alarms about the Turkish government's commitment to freedom of expression, we are hoping his release signals the end of a disturbing trend,” Siems added. “We will be working to ensure that the unfounded charges that remain in place are dropped and that he, his son Deniz, Büsra Ersanli, and dozens of others who have done nothing but peacefully express their views are fully acquitted.” 

The first hearing in Ragip Zarakolu's trial is scheduled for July 2. Proceedings could continue for months or even years.

Ten Things That You Didn't Know About Turkey
Source:  The Istanbulian
Date: 10 April 2012
For Foreign Policy, Andrew Finkel listed ten things you didn't know about Turkey. I suggest you to read the full article, but here is the short list:
1. Turkey is nearly as urban as France.
2. Turkish political life is secular, but religion still has a role.

8 April 2012

OSCE Report: Turkey is the Lead Jailer of Journalists in the World
Source: Massis Weekly
Date: 8 April 2012
The International Press Institute (IPI) obtained on 4 April a report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) indicating that Turkey is currently holding at least 57 journalists in prison – apparently more than any other country.

7 April 2012

Three anonymous Christians
Date: 7 April 2012
Have you ever heard of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yüksel and Christian Tilmann Geske? Small chance you have, bigger chance you haven’t. They are three Christians (two Turkish, one German) who were brutally tortured and murdered in the East-Turkish city of Malatya in April 2007. This Monday, the court case against the killers and accomplices will resume.

6 April 2012

Source:  TRT
Date: 6 April 2012
The top brass of Turkey have marked the anniversary of Anatolia News Agency's foundation, releasing messages on the occasion. President Abdullah Gül has said the Anatolia News Agency has been carrying out in the best way its duty to make Turkey's voice heard in the world for the past 92 years.
He has said further that he believes the Agency will continue rendering service without compromising the principle that information must be conveyed correctly.

5 April 2012

Number of jailed journalists nearly doubles in Turkey
Source: World Now
Date: 5 April 2012
Turkey is jailing nearly twice as many journalists as a year ago, and sentencing them to as long as 166 years behind bars, according to a report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Ninety-five journalists are now imprisoned in Turkey, up from 57 a year ago.
"The laws need to be changed so journalists are not jailed for their work," Dunja Mijatovic, its representative on freedom of the media, said Monday. She called the numbers "worrisome."

Turkey should free its 95 journalists now in jail, says OSCE Media Freedom Representative
Source:  Association of European Journalists
Date: 5 April 2012
The Vienna-based OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFOM) has stepped up pressure on Turkey to release all 95 journalists in jail, many of who have been detained for long periods awaiting trial. A new Report by the Representative issued on 2 April shows the number of journalists in Turkish jails increased by thirty-eight to a total of 95 from 57 a year ago. Turkey now detains more journalists than any other state in the world.

4 April 2012

OSCE concerned about jailed journalists in Turkey
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 4 April 2012
The number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey is worrisome and demands the immediate attention and swift action of the authorities, Dunja Mijatović, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE’s) representative on freedom of the media said yesterday, following an update announcement on the number of journalists currently in Turkish prisons.

Journalists hurt in clashes after retiree's suicide in Athens: police
Source:  Hurriyet
Date: 4 April 2012
At least two journalists were rough-handled by riot police who broke up a protest in Athens that erupted after an elderly man fatally shot himself in an act of apparent debt despair, a police source said Thursday.

Source:  Xindex
Date: 4 April 2012
A Turkish politician has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after delivering speeches in the run up to elections in June 2011. Serafettin Halis, former Deputy of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was convicted of being part of an illegal organisation, and creating propaganda for an illegal organisation following seven speeches he delivered during the run up the the elections. Halis told local press that he is being prosecuted for speaking to his constituents, as the speeches were made in his capacity as an elected official.

Bildt is Risking the Lives of Turkish Journalists -For a Few Dollars More
Source:  The Istanbulian
Date: 4 April 2012
According to the latest study by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 95 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, compared to 57 at this time last year.

2 April 2012

'Significant' rise in jailed Turkish journalists: OSCE
Source:  Cumhuriyet
Date: 2 April 2012
The number of journalists in jail in Turkey has risen to 95 from 57 a year ago, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Monday, calling it a "worrisome" trend.

"Sivas Massacre Case Won't Be Closed Until We Say So"
Source:  Bianet
Date: 2 April 2012
Alevite organizations and dissident groups and parties protested the acquittal of some defendants at the infamous Sivas case. Education reform, discriminatory practices and recent threats to Alevites were also targeted.

Politician sentenced to 15 years in prison for campaign speeches
Source:  IFEX
Date: 2 April 2012
(BIANET/IFEX) – 30 March 2012 – Serafettin Halis, former Deputy of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Tunceli, was convicted of "membership in an illegal organization" and "making propaganda for an illegal organization" and sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison. The verdict was handed down by the Malatya Special Authority 3rd High Criminal Court on 28 March.

The sentence stems from seven speeches Halis delivered during the run-up to the elections on 12 June 2011 and in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Halis's lawyer, Hasan Dogan, claimed the speeches were within the scope of "freedom of expression" and therefore requested that his client be acquitted of the charges. However, the court evaluated the speeches in the scope of "membership in an illegal organization and spreading propaganda for the organization."

Dogan said Halis's sentence was contrary to the law and announced his intention to file an appeal.

Halis told the press that the speeches were made in his capacity as an elected official, and that he is being prosecuted for speaking to his constituents: "Trials were opened against me on the grounds of speeches I made at meetings and press releases in Dersim, which was my election district when I was a parliamentarian. Seven of these trials were decided yesterday. Even Members of Parliament are being investigated in Turkey nowadays. Wherever I made a speech, a file was prepared about me."

"I did nothing else but talking to my electorate and giving information. Every meeting that I attended on behalf of my party was accounted for as an offence. There is nothing to say anymore. There are still another 20 files pending against me. Let's see how many more years will come out of that."

'Significant' rise in jailed Turkish journalists: OSCE
Source:  The Daily Star
Date: 2 April 2012
 The number of journalists in jail in Turkey has risen to 95 from 57 a year ago, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Monday, calling it a "worrisome" trend.
"The number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey has significantly increased in the past year," the organization's media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement as she presented a new report.

OSCE study confirms nearly 100 journalists currently in prison
Source:  IPI/IFEX
Date: 2 April 2012
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today released a detailed study finding that the number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey nearly doubled over the past year, prompting the group to call for immediate reform of the country's broadly interpreted anti-terror laws. 

The report – an update to a similar report released one year ago – found that 95 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, compared to 57 at this time last year.

The report, commissioned by the OSCE's Freedom of the Media Office, was conducted by Erol Önderoğlu, a representative of press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Turkey and the editor-in-chief of the BIANET Independent Communications Network in Istanbul. 

The updated figure appears to confirm Turkey, an OSCE member state and candidate for membership in the European Union, as one of the world's leading jailers of journalists – by some accounts ahead even of notorious press-freedom offenders Iran and China. 

“The sheer number of imprisoned journalists raises fundamental questions about the law and policy on journalism and free expression in Turkey,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said. “I am concerned that the threat of imprisonment will lead to further widespread self-censorship.” 

Mijatović called on the Turkish government to change two laws that the study indicates are most commonly used to jail journalists: Articles 5 and 7 of the Anti-Terror Law – which relates, in part, to propagandising on behalf of terrorist groups – and Article 314 of the country's Criminal Code, which prohibits forming or participating in an armed organisation with the aim at committing certain offences. 

The interpretative scope of those provisions is so wide, the report noted, that “media outlets reporting about sensitive issues (including terrorism or anti-government activities) are often regarded by the authorities as the publishing organs of illegal organizations”. It added: “Courts often consider reporting about such issues as equal to supporting them.” 

Mijatović said that while Turkey had a “legitimate right” to combat terrorism and ensure its citizens' safety, “objective reporting about all issues, including sensitive topics such as terrorism, is a fundamental part of democratic societies and journalists play an indispensable role by providing information to the public”. 

The OSCE study also highlighted “exceptionally long prison sentences” handed down to convicted journalists, many of whom also face multiple trials. According to the study, one journalist, Bayram Namaz of Atilim, risks 3,000 years in prison; another, Halit Güdenoglu, is charged in approximately 150 court cases. 

Mijatović noted that extended pre-trial detentions remain a serious concern, with judges rarely agreeing to release journalists pending trial. One notable exception is an Istanbul court's decision last month to free four journalists on trial in the Oda TV case, which is named after a nationalist news website that has been critical of the government and its investigation of the alleged “Ergenekon” plot by secularists and ultra-nationalists to overthrow the government of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

Citing the amount of time the journalists had been imprisoned and the low likelihood that they could tamper with evidence in the case, the court freed IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener, who faces 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison on charges of aiding an alleged terrorist group, as well as journalist Ahmet Şık and two writers for Oda TV: Sait Çakır and Coskun Musluk. 

Representatives of IPI and its Turkish National Committee were on hand to greet the journalists following their release from the Silivri prison, west of Istanbul. 

Another exception came last Thursday, when a court in Diyarbakır ordered the release of Dicle News Agency (DİHA)'s Batman representative, Erdoğan Altan, and the agency's Diyarbakır representative, Kadri Kaya, pending trial. Both had reportedly been held since April 17, 2011. 

IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “While we welcome Turkey's rise on the world stage, we are concerned that press freedom in the country is coming under ever greater threat. Turkey has an extraordinary opportunity to shine as an example of a healthy democracy – but this can only be accomplished if the country respects its citizens' right to information via a free press. The government in Ankara should view active, investigative journalism as an asset to the county's future success, not as a threat, and immediately release those journalists whose only crime is doing their job.” 

Despite repeated calls from several leading government figures, including Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, to change the laws being used to prosecute journalists, little progress has been made. 

Trionfi emphasised: “Any restriction on press freedom must serve a legitimate aim and be necessary in a democratic society. Turkey's anti-terrorism laws certainly do not fulfil these criteria.” 

Turkey has come under increasing fire for its alleged failure to protect press freedom. Last November, a judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said Turkey had the worst press-freedom record among all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

Media School kicks off
Source:  Media Association
Date: 2 April 2012
Media School, a journalism training program designed by the Media Association and offered in cooperation with the İstanbul Şehir University has started.
Media school kicked off with the Media Association Chairman Salih Memecan’s opening speech. In his speech, Memecan talked about the 40-year change of Turkish media with the impact of technology.