Chronology of Events

February 2012


29 February 2012

After victory for free speech in France, Turkey’s turn next?
Source: Reporters Without Borders
Date: 29 February 2012
Reporters Without Borders hails yesterday’s ruling by the Constitutional Council that a proposed law punishing the “denial of legally recognized genocides” is unconstitutional. It had been on the verge of being signed into law by President Sarkozy.
More: http://en.rsf.org/france-parliamentarians-urged-to-refer-26-01-2012,41771.html


Genocide-denial law declared unconstitutional
Source:  IFEX
Date: 29 February 2012
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Paris, 29 February 2012 - ARTICLE 19 welcomes the decision of the French Constitutional Court that a law criminalising public denial of crimes of genocide is unconstitutional and incompatible with the Constitution's guarantees to the right to freedom of expression.

“We applaud the Constitutional Court for ruling in favour of freedom of expression. The law's severe criminal sanctions would have interfered disproportionately with an individual's right to engage in historical debate. The Human Rights Committee has affirmed that laws which penalise the expression of opinions about historical facts are incompatible with a state's obligation to respect freedom of expression,” says Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. “We urge President Sarkozy to respect the decision and refrain from seeking to draft another law,” she added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy intended to ratify the law by the end of February. The French National Assembly approved the law on 22 December 2011 and the Senate on 23 January. The Constitutional Court was requested by MPs and senators to review the law and found it in violation of the Constitution and other national laws, in particular the Penal Code and the Law on Freedom of the Press.

ARTICLE 19 has previously raised a number of concerns about the law and petitioned the French president not to sign it. We have argued that holding an individual criminally liable for denials of historical events amounts to an unacceptable restriction on the right to freedom of expression. Because no pressing social need exists for the suppression of historical debate, the law is not necessary in a democratic society and therefore violates both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. This has been reaffirmed in General Comment No. 34, adopted last year by the UN Human Rights Committee.

Since international freedom of expression standards do not permit general prohibition of expressions of an erroneous opinion or an incorrect interpretation of past events, ARTICLE 19 calls on the French Parliament to reject President Sarkozy's request to draft yet another such law.
More: http://www.ifex.org/france/2012/02/29/law_declared_unconstitutional/


France: Genocide Law Overturned
Source:  Bianet
Date: 29 February 2012
The French Constitutional Council found the draft bill on the criminalization of the denial of genocide contrary to the constitution. The members of the French parliament who applied to the council announced to lift the law.
More: http://bianet.org/english/minorities/136560-france-genocide-law-overturned  


Journalists Record: 147 Men, 27 Women
Source:  Bianet
Date: 29 February 2012
The ratio of women working in the print media ranges at around 15 percent; only one publications director is female. Nurcan Akat, Turkey's first female general publications director, told bianet, "the situation of newspaper staff is deplorable" and explained the reasons.
More: http://bianet.org/english/gender/136551-journalists-record-147-men-27-women

28 February 2012

RedHack Hacked Police Directorate
Source: Bianet
Date: 28 February 2012
RedHack hacked the POLNET police network and the Ankara Police Directorate and seized and published denunciations, complaints and other correspondence related to the worries of sensitive citizens.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/136509-redhack-hacked-police-directorate


Turkish hackers, WikiLeaks disclose security documents
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 28 February 2012
A successful hacking attempt by a left-wing Turkish group of the Ankara Police Department’s computer network and WikiLeaks’ recent publishing of emails it “acquired” from U.S.-based intel company Stratfor have led to questions about the future of online security.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-hackers-wikileaks-disclose-security-documents-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=14814&NewsCatID=341


Turkish journalist in prison moved by international support
Source: IFJ
Date: 28 February 2012
The Turkish journalist Barış Terkoğlu, in jail since Februari 2011, was adopted by the Belgian Union of Journalists (AGJPB). Today Barış Terkoğlu sent a letter to AGJPB from Silivri prison and thanked them for their support :
Dear  Friends,
You gave me the courage and strength to end my words in my court defense with the following:
If you ask “what is law?”, we probably have to say that it is mostly about the “applications”.
No matter what the written law is, if people thinking and writing in a certain way are continously investigated and imprisoned then it means that thinking and writing that way is forbidden.
 Unfortunately this is what happened to us as well.
It is critical journalism that is forbidden in these courts, and it is critical journalism that is being destroyed with such cases.
I will say this again and again.
I, and I confidently can say that “we”, wrote what we believed to be right.
As the news director, regardless of whether I agree or  disagree with the ideas or the writings of our authors, I take full responsibility for what our authors have written.
 In my defense I explained in detail and defended every one of the articles, news and analysis. In the end my writings reflect my thoughts.
I also want you to acknowledge this:
If you release me today I will sit on the stairs of this very courthouse and write the same news and articles. Even if I stay in prison for 100 years, the day I get released I will insist on the same thoughts. If I lose my right arm I will write my thoughts with my left arm. I do not need an organization, instructions or orders to do these. As you can see for almost a year now I am separated from all other suspects and I continue to write the same thoughts which are considered as crime.
One is not defined by his genes but by his actions.
And I am who stems from the tips of my fingers.
I can not become someone else with the fear of prison, police-threat, or prosecutors’ punishment. I can not exchange the freedom of my body with the slavery of my soul.
 If what is expected by these hearings is this, and this what I think is expected, I am turning the exchange offer down.
Now not only for myself but for all suspects and for my country, if it is in your hands, I demand justice.”
Our words were not enough to earn our freedom.
Our next hearing is on the 12th of March.
I believe that, no matter what it takes, freedom will rightfully be with us one day.
Yours Truly,
Barış Terkoğlu
Silivri 1 Nolu Cezaevi, F-1 Koğuşu
Silivri/İstanbul/Turkey.
More: http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/turkish-journalist-adopted-by-agjpb-responded-by-a-moving-letter


Minority newspapers to be able to publish official announcements
Source: Cumhuriyet
Date: 28 February 2012
Newspapers of "minorities", as determined by the Lausanne Peace Treaty, in Turkey will be able to publish official announcements.
More: http://en.cumhuriyet.com/?hn=318418


French court cancels ‘genocide’ denial bill
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 28 February 2012
France’s Constitutional Council has struck down a government-backed law criminalizing denials of the 1915 events as genocide on the grounds that it contradicts the French constitution in a move that looks set to ward off a deepening crisis in Turkish-French ties.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/french-court-cancels-genocide-denial-bill.aspx?pageID=238&nid=14901&NewsCatID=338

27 February 2012

Conscientious Objector Savda Arrested again
Source: Bianet
Date: 27 February 2012
Conscientious objector Savda was arrested and taken to prison upon the approval of a five-month prison sentence on charges of "alienating the public from military service". Amnesty International Turkey and the Human Rights Foundation condemned his arrest. More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/136484-conscientious-objector-savda-arrested-again


In Solidarity with Arrested Writer Zarakolu
Source: Bianet
Date: 27 February 2012
Advocators for freedom of expression from Turkey and abroad expressed their solidarity with detained writer Ragıp Zarakolu in Ankara on 25 February. PEN International Head Schoulgin and Nyegard from the Norwegian Publishers Association sent solidarity messages.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/136478-in-solidarity-with-arrested-writer-zarakolu


Uzbeks censor Turkish TV series
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 27 February 2012
Three state-run televisions in Uzbekistan have banned the broadcasting of Turkish TV series on the grounds that they contain “unsuitable content.”
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/uzbeks-censor-turkish-tv-series-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=14709&NewsCatID=381


Journalist, in poor health, is released pending trial
Source: IFEX
Date: 27 February 2012
(BIANET/IFEX) - 23 February 2012 - As reported on 22 February, journalist Dogan Yurdakul, detained defendant in the Oda TV case, was released pending trial due to health reasons by the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court. Yurdakul, 66, is suffering from hypertension, heart disease and kidney failure. During his time in prison, he also developed diabetes and a cyst on his right kidney.

In their application to the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court, the journalist's lawyers emphasized that Yurdakul was at risk of developing life-threatening complications that could possibly lead to his death, and therefore requested his release.

Yurdakul, who was a coordinator for Oda TV, was taken into custody at his home in Ayranci (Ankara) on 3 March 2011. On 6 March, he was arrested by the order of a court on duty and taken to prison.

Yurdakul spent 11 months in a prison cell with journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener at the Silivri Prison a few miles west of Istanbul. At the ninth hearing of the Oda TV trial on 23 January 2011, there was an interesting conversation between Yurdakul and President Judge Mehmet Ekinci about the journalist's health condition.

Yurdakul had told judge Ekinci that he was taken to the Forensic Medicine Institute, where they decided to perform an angiogram. The judge, however, said that he had not received a report on the issue and would make a decision once the report was received. This was followed by a discussion on whether the court had the right to interpret a medical report.

Selcuk Kozagacli, the President of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (CHD), told BIANET that Yurdakul was severely ill and should be released from prison immediately.
More: http://www.ifex.org/turkey/2012/02/27/journalist_released/

25 February 2012

Justice minister hints at retrial in Dink case
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 25 February 2012
Turkey’s justice minister indicates a possible retrial in the Dink murder case as a deputy PM labels a new ruling that says the hit was unorganized unconvincing
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/justice-minister-hints-at-retrial-in-dink-case.aspx?pageID=238&nID=14628&NewsCatID=339


TV fair readies to kick off next week
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 25 February 2012
The Turkish television industry will welcome the DISCOP Istanbul Television Publishing and Fair between Feb. 28 and March 1.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tv-fair-readies-to-kick-off-next-week.aspx?pageID=238&nid=14574&NewsCatID=381

24 February 2012

‘No organization behind murder’
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 24 February 2012
An Istanbul court issues its detailed ruling in Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder case and says although there are doubts there was no evidence on the existence of an organization behind the crime
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-organization-behind-murder.aspx?pageID=238&nID=14516&NewsCatID=339


"Journalists Need a Lawyer on Standby"
Source: Bianet
Date: 24 February 2012
According to an analysis of the Committee to Protect Journalists, "A critical journalist in Turkey these days needs a lawyer on standby. The press is laboring under a creaking judicial system".
More: http://bianet.org/english/minorities/136428-journalists-need-a-lawyer-on-standby


DDK report's censored pages call for probe of state officials in Dink case
Source: Todayszaman
Date: 24 February 2012
The undisclosed sections of a report prepared by the State Audit Institution (DDK) regarding the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink openly accuse police and intelligence officials of negligence in the murder and call for the investigation of certain individuals, the Habertürk daily reported on Friday.
More: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-272359-ddk-reports-censored-pages-call-for-probe-of-state-officials-in-dink-case.html


Turkish journalists protest killings of reporters in Syria
Source: Todayszaman
Date: 24 February 2012
Journalists from various associations gathered in Ankara on Friday to protest the killing of journalists in neighboring Syria. A group of journalists from the Turkey's Photojournalists Association (TFMD), Turkey's News Cameramen Association (THKD) and the Diplomacy Reporters Association (DMD) convened in front of the Syrian Embassy in Ankara.
More: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-272433-turkish-journalists-protest-killings-of-reporters-in-syria.html


IPI's Turkish National Committee Welcomes Release of Journalist in Oda TV Case
Source:  IPI
Date: 24 February 2012
VIENNA, Feb 24, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI)’s Turkish National Committee today welcomed the release of one of the defendants in the Oda TV trial and called for the release of other journalists the group said had been jailed because of their work.

News website Bianet reported Wednesday that an Istanbul court ordered the release of journalist and author Doğan Yurdakul, 66, for health reasons.

The journalist is said to suffer from hypertension and problems with his heart and his renal system. He also reportedly developed diabetes and a cyst on one of his kidneys in the 11 months since his detention on Mar. 3, 2011.

Yurdakul’s lawyers reportedly told the court that Yurdakul's continued incarceration could cause a further deterioration in his condition that could possibly lead to his death.

IPI’s Turkish National Committee said in a statement:

“We welcome the release of Doğan Yurdakul in consideration of his health problems….We look forward to the release, pending trial, of those other journalists who are detained and who are being prosecuted for having done their job.”

Yurdakul was formally arrested on March 6 and until his release this week shared a prison cell at the Silivri Prison west of Istanbul with IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener and journalist Ahmet Şık.

The three are part of a group of 10 journalists and others charged with various crimes related to the government’s claim that they and nationalist news website Oda TV served as the media wing of the alleged “Ergenekon” plot. They deny accusations that their role was to use their positions to discredit a probe into the alleged plot by secularists and ultra-nationalists to use terrorism to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government.

IPI’s Turkish National Committee in its statement today also urged the government to reform “all articles [of Turkish law] blocking press freedom and the freedom of speech” and it called for full “implementation of the people’s right to obtain information.”

Over 100 journalists are currently imprisoned in Turkey, most in pre-trial detention. Most of those detained are alleged to have violated criminal or anti-terrorism laws banning membership or support in armed criminal organisations. Approximately one third of those imprisoned reportedly were taken into custody in connection with the Ergenekon probe, while the others were detained on charges stemming from alleged ties to banned Kurdish and leftist groups.

IPI and its subsidiary, the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), have criticised Turkey’s treatment of journalists in the past year, including the conditions under which journalists are imprisoned. Suzan Zengin – a human rights activist, journalist and translator who spent two years in pre-trial detention for alleged ties to an illegal Marxist organisation – died last October of an undisclosed ailment, four months after she was released. Critics attributed her death to the government’s alleged failure to provide adequate medical care for chronic health problems during her incarceration.
More: http://www.freemedia.at/index.php?id=288&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=6053&cHash=ed9ca0fdb5


IPI's Turkish National Committee Welcomes Release of Journalist in Oda TV Case
Source: International Press Institute (IPI)
Date: 24 February 2012
VIENNA, Feb 24, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI)’s Turkish National Committee today welcomed the release of one of the defendants in the Oda TV trial and called for the release of other journalists the group said had been jailed because of their work.
News website Bianet reported Wednesday that an Istanbul court ordered the release of journalist and author Doğan Yurdakul, 66, for health reasons.
The journalist is said to suffer from hypertension and problems with his heart and his renal system. He also reportedly developed diabetes and a cyst on one of his kidneys in the 11 months since his detention on Mar. 3, 2011. http://www.freemedia.at/home/singleview/article/ipis-turkish-national-committee-welcomes-release-of-journalist-in-oda-tv-case.html

23 February 2012

Doğan Yurdakul Released
Source: Bianet
Date: 23 February 2012
Oda TV defendant Yurdakul was released from the Silivri Prison due to health reasons after eleven months of detention. Yurdakul had shared a cell with journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/136397-dogan-yurdakul-released


CPJ slams legal treatment towards scribes in Turkey
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 23 February 2012
A recent analysis published on the website of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) slams the treatment of journalists in Turkey, saying that many journalists - especially Kurdish and leftist sympathizers - face extremely harsh legal treatment.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/cpj-slams-legal-treatment-towards-scribes-in-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nid=14401&NewsCatID=339

22 February 2012

Attacks on Zaman test EU-Turkey ties
Source: CPJ
Date: 22 February 2012
Last week, suspected supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, took their confrontation with the Turkish state to Western Europe, attacking the French and German offices of one of Turkey's most influential newspapers, Zaman.
In broad daylight on February 15, around 15 people, some of them masked, stormed Zaman France's offices in Pantin, northeast of Paris, threatened employees, broke windows, and damaged furniture and computers, the newspaper reported.
That evening, a suspected pro-PKK group threw Molotov cocktails on the paper's premises in the German city of Cologne.
According to Zaman's editors, the attack in France has been claimed by a group allegedly close to the PKK, the "Euphrates Revolutionary Revenge Brigade." This is the third time that the paper's offices have been targeted in France, and similar attacks have taken place in Vienna and Zürich.
The EU is particularly anxious to show its determination to stop such attacks. Turkey, an emerging power in the Middle East and a crucial economic and political partner for the EU, has an axe to grind with Brussels. In particular, it deeply resents the opposition of some key member states like France and Germany to its full integration into the EU.
Any hint that EU countries would be soft on the groups that vandalized Zaman's offices would be seen by Ankara as evidence of double standards. In recent months, the EU has strongly criticized Turkey's measures against the press, in particular the prosecution and jailing of dozens of journalists, mostly charged under controversial anti-terrorism legislation.
Jean-Philippe Mauer's reaction is a sign that French authorities understand what is at stake. The deputy chairman of France's ruling party, Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), called on the Interior Ministry to take all necessary measures to protect the newspaper's offices, Zaman reported. The attacks follow complaints from Zaman officials that the French police had failed to provide security as requested for its personnel in France.
The French authorities have started an investigation while the German police have reportedly arrested two suspects.
The acts of vandalism took place on the anniversary of the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999 in Nairobi. According to some analysts, PKK sympathizers argue that Zaman is pro-government and, in a crude amalgam, therefore shares the blame for what they see as failed Turkish policies in its Southeastern provinces, a region mainly inhabited by Kurds.
Zaman ("The Time" in Turkish) is connected to Fethullah Gülen, a powerful religious brotherhood close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development (AKP) party. It also publishes an English edition, Today's Zaman.
The attacks have been strongly condemned by most European institutions and political groups. Underlining that "freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the core values of European culture," the European Parliament's Rapporteur on Turkey, Dutch Christian Democratic MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten, called on France and Germany "to conduct in-depth investigations in order to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"Terrorism is about intimidating people. The PKK wanted to intimidate the journalists working for Zaman," said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, vice chair of the Group of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, according to the newspaper. "We want media representatives and journalists to be able to work in freedom, free from intimidation and fear."
Dunja Mijatovic, representative on freedom of the media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also reacted, saying, "These attacks not only create fear in those directly affected. They also damage media freedom by attempting to silence journalists for their reporting."
More: http://cpj.org/blog/2012/02/attacks-on-zaman-test-eu-turkey-ties.php

21 February 2012

Turkey's presidential board slams Dink trial outcome
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 21 February 2012
Turkey’s State Audit Board (DDK) completed a report into the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink today, saying it found mistakes in the questioning of government personnel which adversely affected the efficiency of the overall investigation into the murder. 
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-presidential-board-slams-dink-trial-outcome.aspx?pageID=238&nID=14172&NewsCatID=339


Turkish newspaper’s offices attacked in Paris and Cologne
Source: Indexoncensorship
Date: 21 February 2012
The Paris and Cologne offices of a Turkish newspaper were attacked by supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) last week.
More: http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/02/zaman-attack-france-germany/


Presidency urges new trial in Dink murder
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 21 February 2012
The Turkish Presidency’s State Supervisory Council (DDK) recommended yesterday that top police and gendarmerie officials be prosecuted in the main Hrant Dink murder case due to their alleged negligence before and after the journalist’s 2007 killing.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/presidency-urges-new-trial-in-dink-murder.aspx?pageID=238&nID=14233&NewsCatID=339

20 February 2012

EFJ Condemns Attacks on Turkish media in France and Germany
Date: 20 February 2012
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today condemned Wednesday?s attacks on the offices of Turkish-language newspaper Zaman in Paris.
"The violence against the Zaman offices in Paris and Cologne is yet another deplorable attack on journalism and press freedom", said Arne König, EFJ President.

Zaman reported that a group of nearly 15 PKK supporters wearing masks entered its Paris office, threatened employees and vandalized equipment. Similar attacks were witnessed at Zaman news office in Cologne, Germany, when a pro-PKK group threw Molotov cocktails at the Zaman building on Wednesday evening. German police detained two people on suspected links to the attack.

"The  recent increase in violence and threats against media and journalists throughout Europe is truly alarming and must be condemned" added König. "We expect the French and German authorites to do their utmost to bring the attackers to justice and ensure that the security of Zaman and its employees is guaranted, in the name of press freedom and freedom of speach."

 A Zaman spokesperson said that the Paris attack was the third on its office in the last six months. The newspaper also accused PKK supporters of carrying out prior attacks on its offices in London, Vienna and Zurich.
More: http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/efj-condemns-attacks-on-turkish-media-in-france-and-germany


Coordinated attacks on Turkish newspaper’s offices in Europe
Source: RSF
Date: 20 February 2012
Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns last week’s almost simultaneous attacks on the offices of the conservative Turkish weekly Zaman in Germany and France by suspected supporters of Turkey’s Kurdish armed separatists. “We are very worried by the growing violence of the attacks on Zaman,” Reporters Without Borders said. “There is no justification for these grave acts of intimidation that could have had tragic consequences.
More: http://en.rsf.org/germany-coordinated-attacks-on-turkish-20-02-2012,41909.html


State watchdog: Flaws in investigating officials' negligence in Dink murder case
Source: Todayszaman
Date: 20 February 2012
The summary of a report prepared by the State Audit Institution (DDK) regarding the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has revealed that mistakes were made in the investigation of public officials who were suspected to have acted negligently in preventing the murder. The summary of the DDK report was posted on the website of the presidential office on Monday.
More: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-271950-state-watchdog-flaws-in-investigating-officials-negligence-in-dink-murder-case.html

17 February 2012

Turkish daily's Paris office attacked three times in six months
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 17 February 2012
The Paris office of Turkish newspaper Zaman has been attacked three times in the last six months, the daily reported on its website today. The latest attack in Paris came yesterday after the Cologne office of the newspaper in Germany was also torched by suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-dailys-paris-office-attacked-three-times-in-six-months-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=13997&NewsCatID=351  


Hrant Dink photos up for auction
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 17 February 2012
Photos showing slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink fishing at the seaside have gone up for auction, private broadcaster NTV reported on its website today.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/hrant-dink-photos-up-for-auction-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=13987&NewsCatID=385


Attacks against Turkish-language newspaper in Cologne, Paris threaten free reporting, says OSCE media freedom representative

Source: OSCE
Date: 17 February 2012
PARIS, 17 February 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, today condemned attacks on the Paris and Cologne offices of the Turkish-language daily newspaper Zaman and called for a thorough investigation.
“The attacks on Zaman’s editorial offices not only create fear in those directly affected but they also damage media freedom by attempting to silence journalists for their reporting,” Mijatović said.
On 15 February a masked group of alleged supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) entered the Paris offices of Zaman, breaking windows and equipment and threatening employees. On the same day in Cologne, alleged PKK supporters firebombed the newspaper’s offices.
“Attacks and intimidation against a media outlet and its journalists are unacceptable. I am relieved that no one was injured and that the French and German authorities have launched investigations,” Mijatović said.  “I hope that the perpetrators will be soon brought to justice.”
More: http://www.osce.org/fom/88234


Turkish newspaper’s Europe offices attacked

Source: IFEX
Date: 17 February 2012
(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, Feb 16, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned attacks yesterday on the offices of Turkish-language newspaper Zaman in Paris and in the German city of Cologne allegedly carried out by supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Zaman reported that a group of nearly 15 PKK supporters wearing masks entered its Paris office and threatened employees, broke windows, and damaged furniture, televisions and computers.

AFP reported that arsonists torched Zaman’s Cologne headquarters and that police said they arrested two people, aged 17 and 22, in the attack. AFP said that a cafe frequented by Cologne's Turkish community was also attacked yesterday.

A Cologne police spokesperson told AFP that assailants shouted “typical PKK slogans” in both attacks in the city, and AFP reported that police had not ruled out a link to the PKK, which the European Union, the United States and Turkey consider a terrorist organization.

IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “We condemn these attacks and we hope that German and French authorities conduct swift, transparent and complete investigations that hold all of the perpetrators accountable. We also reiterate that it is absolutely unacceptable to resort to violence against journalists to express political disagreement with them.”

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the arrest of PKK leader and founder Abdullah Öcalan, who remains incarcerated in Turkey.

A Zaman spokesperson said that the Paris attack was the third on its office there in the last six months. The newspaper also accused PKK supporters of carrying out prior attacks on its offices in London, Vienna and Zurich.
More: http://www.ifex.org/turkey/2012/02/17/zaman_attacked/

16 February 2012

Turkish newspaper office torched in Germany: police
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 16 February 2012
Arsonists torched the headquarters of the Turkish-language newspaper Zaman in the western German city of Cologne, police said Thursday, amid suspicions Kurdish militants might be to blame.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-newspaper-office-torched-in-germany-police.aspx?pageID=238&nid=13908&NewsCatID=351      


Dink lawyers file charges against 24
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 16 February 2012
Lawyers for murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink have requested that the Istanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor’s Office file a criminal case against 24 public servants for their alleged role in the 2007 killing.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/dink-lawyers-file-charges-against-24.aspx?pageID=238&nID=13860&NewsCatID=339


Dink Family Petitions Prosecution of Public Officials

Source: Bianet
Date: 16 February 2012
After the final hearing of the trial related to the Hrant Dink murder in January, the family of the slain Turkish-Armenian journalist applied to the chief prosecutor's office for the litigation of public officials in the context of the murder.
More: http://bianet.org/english/minorities/136199-dink-family-petitions-prosecution-of-public-officials


Demonstrators and Job-Seeker in Custody
Source: Bianet
Date: 16 February 2012
23 people were taken into police custody in Taksim/Istanbul when the police intervened against demonstrators on 15 February, the day jailed PKK leader Öcalan was extradited to Turkey. The same day, journalist Yıldız was taken into custody when she applied for a new job.
More: http://bianet.org/english/minorities/136202-demonstrators-and-job-seeker-in-custody


Turkish Newspaper’s Europe Offices Attacked
Source: International Press Institute (IPI)
Date: 16 February 2012
VIENNA, Feb 16, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned attacks yesterday on the offices of Turkish-language newspaper Zaman in Paris and in the German city of Cologne allegedly carried out by supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Zaman reported that a group of nearly 15 PKK supporters wearing masks entered its Paris office and threatened employees, broke windows, and damaged furniture, televisions and computers.
http://www.freemedia.at/home/singleview/article/turkish-newspapers-europe-offices-attacked.html

14 February 2012

Arrested publisher applies to ECHR
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 14 February 2012
Arrested publisher Ragıp Zarakolu’s lawyers have filed a suit at the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the prosecutor’s orders that led to his arrest on Nov. 1, 2011, as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/arrested-publisher-applies-to-echr.aspx?pageID=238&nID=13693&NewsCatID=339

13 February 2012

Too vague, too fast, too far from fact
Source: Journalistinturkey
Date: 13 February 2012
The news in Turkey sometimes just doesn’t make sense. But as a foreign correspondent, you have to write about it anyway. Promptly. Usually you manage, but sometimes, I admit, you don’t. Like last week. The news was so utterly confusing, I couldn’t, as the Dutch saying goes, make chocolate of it.
More:  http://www.journalistinturkey.com/blogs/too-vague-too-fast-too-far-from-fact_2914/


HRW: Draft reform law falls short on media freedom
Source: Todayszaman
Date: 13 February 2012
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday that proposed reforms submitted to Parliament fail to address concerns on media freedom in Turkey, leaving key problems with free speech untouched.
More: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-271335-hrw-draft-reform-law-falls-short-on-media-freedom.html


Musician detained; band members pledge to hold solidarity concerts
Source: IFEX
Date: 13 February 2012
(BIANET/IFEX) - 13 February 2012 - Seckin Aydogan, a member of the band Grup Yorum ("Group Comment"), has been in detention for six weeks. He was taken into custody on 13 December 2011 during a police raid on the Rights Association in Nurtepe, and formally arrested three days later. He is being held at the Tekirdag No. 1 F Type Prison and is scheduled to appear at his first hearing at the Caglayan (Istanbul) courthouse on 2 April.

The group was founded in 1985. Its members have been exposed to near-constant arrests, imprisonment and bans. The band is known for its politically charged lyrics. The Galatasary square was crowded with fans who sang along with their favourite tunes and performed the halay folk dance.

In a press release, the band announced, "Yet one additional new illegal pressure was imposed on Grup Yorum and their listeners. University students were arrested in Samsun because they organized a Grup Yorum concert. They were handed down prison sentences of up to 13 years. After that, Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitim-Sen) member Berivan Dogan was sentenced to ten months in jail on charges of 'propaganda for a criminal organization' because lyrics of a Grup Yorum song were found on her computer".

"On 10 May 2011, Tavir magazine owner Bahar Kurt was taken into custody in the course of a raid on the Idil Culture Centre. In the indictment, the album 'Cemo' was alleged of "public incitement to committing crimes within the activities of a terrorist organization" and Grup Yorum members were charged with "the attempt to acquire members for an illegal organization".

"Minster of the Interior Idris Naim Sahin announced that 'terrorism was being supported' with concerts, poems and pictures. Nowadays, having opposing ideas to the policies of the power and their applications is enough to be arrested or taken into custody", it was said in the press release.

According to the indictment prepared by Prosecutor Huseyin Kaplan, Aydogan attended a rally at Taksim square (Istanbul) calling for the release of the employees of "Yuruyus" magazine. He is also alleged of "having chanted slogans". Thus, he is being tried on charges of "opposing Law No.2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations", "propaganda for an illegal organization" according to Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and "membership of an illegal organization" as ordered in Article 314 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK).

The band is going to perform for the duration of two months in solidarity with Aydogan. Performances will be held every Sunday at 6:00 pm in front of their banner featuring "Freedom for Seckin Aydogan" at the Galatasaray square in central Istanbul until 2 April. The first concert was held on 5 February. Grup Yorum invited all their fans and everybody who would like to support them to the hearing before the 15th High Criminal Court at the Caglayan Courthouse on 2 April.
More: http://www.ifex.org/turkey/2012/02/13/band_member_imprisoned/

10 February 2012

Year of Struggle for Journalists
Source: Bianet
Date: 10 February 2012
Journalism and rights organizations in Turkey and world-wide urged for the release of imprisoned journalists, called for the abrogation of the Anti-Terror Law, observed trial hearings and requested amendments regarding lengthy detention periods.
More: http://bianet.org/english/world/136060-year-of-struggle-for-journalists

Turkish media demands apology for German spoof of Turks
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 10 February 2012
Hurriyet newspaper's Europe edition and the German Foreign Council have demanded an official apology for a German television channel’s “discriminatory” skit that presented stereotypes associated with Turkish immigrants living in Germany, according to the Süddeutsche newspaper’s website.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-media-demands-apology-for-german-spoof-of-turks-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=13477&NewsCatID=351

9 February 2012

Turkey: Judicial Reform Bill - Just Placatory Gesture or Start of Real Change?
Source: CIMA
Reporters Without Borders takes note of a government bill aimed at loosening Turkey's legislative straightjacket, especially as regards the media, and hopes that it represents a first step towards more significant reforms, or else its impact will be minimal.
More: http://cima.ned.org/turkey-judicial-reform-bill-just-placatory-gesture-or-start-real-change?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

Academic Ersanlı and Writer Zarakolu - 100 Days in Jail
Source: Bianet
Date: 9 February 2012
"We want Justice and Freedom on the 100th day of arrest" demanded the Eğitim-Sen Istanbul Universities Branch on 8 February. The protestors marked the 100th day in detention for academic Ersanlı and writer Zarakolu with a demonstration in front of the Beşiktaş Courthouse.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/136030-academic-ersanli-and-writer-zarakolu---100-days-in-jail

Proposed bill promises to loosen restrictions on the press
Source: IFEX
Date: 9 February 2012
Reporters Without Borders takes note of a government bill aimed at loosening Turkey’s legislative straightjacket, especially as regards the media, and hopes that it represents a first step towards more significant reforms, or else its impact will be minimal.

“By finally addressing certain major failings in the Turkish judicial system, this bill is a step in the right direction,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This recognition of the shortcomings is welcome, contrasting as it does with the usual denial on the part of senior officials.

“But the bill envisages just a few adjustments whose effects will be very limited if legislators think they suffice and refrain from more thorough reforms. Patching holes is not enough. Civil liberties will not be properly guaranteed until the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure are completely purged of the repressive attitudes that pervade them.”

Drafted by the justice ministry and approved by the cabinet, the bill was sent last week to the national assembly, where it will soon be put to a debate and vote. Its declared aims are to “make the services provided by the judicial system more effective” and to introduce a generalized “suspension of prosecutions and sentences in media cases.”

The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled against Turkey for violating freedom of expression. The country’s legislation and the tendency of the courts to prioritize security concerns are both largely to blame. Reporters Without Borders presented its recommendations on this issue in a report released in June 2011.

Generalized three-year suspension

The most spectacular aspect of the bill seems to be the suspension of a range of prosecutions and sentences affecting journalists.

“We await the releases of journalists with impatience,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But there will not be enough of them, because what are really media cases are more often than not defined as terrorism cases by the judicial system and most of them will be excluded from this provision. Furthermore, the many journalists prosecuted in connection with their writing who benefit from a three-year suspension will in practice be forced to remain silent during this period.”

Prosecutions and sentences for “media and opinion offences” committed before 31 December 2011 and carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison will be suspended for three years and the cases will thereafter be closed for good if the persons concerned have not committed another similar offence during this period. If they have, the suspended investigation or prosecution will resume. According to the justice ministry, this provision could affect 5,000 cases involving journalists.

The nature of the crimes covered by this provision is vague. Commentators think it will cover “disseminating a terrorist organization’s statements” and “propaganda for a terrorist organization” under the Anti-Terrorism Law. If this is so, then the cases against Irfan Aktan, Ragip Zarakolu and Hakan Tahmaz will, for example, be suspended. Other detained journalists such as Vedat Kursun, Bedri Adanir, Ruken Ergün and Ozan Kilinç may also partially benefit. Some could even be freed because of the length of time they have already been held, but not those who have been arbitrarily charged with “membership of a terrorist organization.”
More:  http://www.ifex.org/turkey/2012/02/10/proposed_judicial_reform/

Judicial reform bill – just placatory gesture or start of real change?
Source: RSF
Date: 9 February 2012
Reporters Without Borders takes note of a government bill aimed at loosening Turkey’s legislative straightjacket, especially as regards the media, and hopes that it represents a first step towards more significant reforms, or else its impact will be minimal.
More: http://en.rsf.org/turquie-judicial-reform-bill-just-09-02-2012,41833.html

6 February 2012

"Hate is an Attitude Rather than a Feeling"
Source: Bianet
Date: 6.2.2012
The Hate Crimes Law Campaign Platform started a series of information meetings. The first session on hate speech was done together with media representatives. Prof İnceoğlu warned that hate speech became more hidden and more dangerous at the same time.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/135954-hate-is-an-attitude-rather-than-a-feeling


IPI Blog: Turkey's Fractured Front on Press Freedom
Source: International Press Institute (IPI)
Date: 6 February 2012
VIENNA, 6 Feb. 2012 - Just one day after Turkey's president said his country must "meticulously" protect press freedom, its prime minister derided a prominent American author for refusing to visit Turkey over the country's treatment of the media. The conflicting messages are the latest example of disunity among Turkey's leadership about how to handle increasingly vociferous criticism - both domestic and international - of the country's deteriorating record on press freedom.
http://www.freemedia.at/home/singleview/article/ipi-blog-turkeys-fractured-front-on-press-freedom.html

4 February 2012

Turkish jails filling up with journalists
Source: Jpost
Date: 4.2.2012
Aziz Tekin, a correspondent for the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, had the misfortune of becoming a news item himself over the weekend when he became the 105th journalist in Turkey to be put behind bars.
More: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=256433

3 February 2012

2011: Year of Publication Bans
Source: Bianet
Date: 3.2.2012
The annual report on the Marmara Region released by the Human Rights Association revealed, "Torture spilled over from detention centres to the street". Also in 2011 in the region, 81 publications were seized and banned, 71 more than in the previous year.
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/135914-2011-year-of-publication-bans

Jailed publisher Zarakolu up for Nobel peace prize
Source: Hurriyet
Date: 3.2.2012
Swedish MPs have applied to the Nobel Peace Committee to nominate jailed publisher Ragıp Zarakolu for the peace prize, daily Radikal reported today.
More: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/jailed-publisher-zarakolu-up-for-nobel-peace-prize-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=12932&NewsCatID=339

2 February 2012

Author Spars With Turkish PM Over Press Freedom
Source: Blogs.wsj.com
Date: 2.2.2012
Those Turks who weren’t familiar with acclaimed American novelist Paul Auster before this week, may be aware of him now. The novelist grabbed headlines in Turkey by criticizing the country’s press freedom record, provoking a public spat with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
More: http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2012/02/02/paul-auster-spars-with-turkey-pm-over-press-freedom/
Three media majors bid for ATV-Sabah
Source: Gulfnews
Date: 2.2.2012
Istanbul: News Corp, Time Warner and TPG Capital have placed bids of up to around $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) for the ATV-Sabah media unit of Turkey's Calik Holding, three sources close to the matter told Reuters.
More: http://gulfnews.com/business/media-marketing/three-media-majors-bid-for-atv-sabah-1.974565

Police use social media to monitor activists
Source: IFEX
Date: 2.2.2012 31 January 2012 – A group of activists met at the restaurant of the Haydarpasa train station on the night of 30 January. They were against the Haydarpasa Port project that is going to change the historic railway station on the Asian side of Istanbul. Railway traffic between Haydarpasa and Ankara stopped on 31 January for the duration of 24 months.

In the middle of dinner, plainclothes police officers came to the table for an identity check. Apparently, the police was informed on the grounds of a tweet on Twitter that a person with an arrest warrant was going to be at the restaurant that night.

Lawyer Efkan Bolac was also at the restaurant for the protest dinner. An official came to their table one hour after they had arrived at the Railway Restaurant and said, "The police have been waiting at the door since 7:30 pm. They got information that three people they are searching for are here and they want to do an identity check".

Bolac replied that he was not going to show his ID if there was no search warrant. He asked the police officers who had entered the restaurant for a search warrant and was told, "It is at the Sahrayicedit Police Station, come and we will show you".

"A group of about 25 to 30 people was there for the protest action, mainly writers, journalists, actors and advertisers. The police said that they received a notice via e-mail. It was claimed in the e-mail that 'as written on Twitter, three people with a search warrant were going to come there'. The police conducted an identity check, said that the searched persons were not present and left the restaurant", Bolac recalled.

"When the notice refers to a public place, the police have the right to control the accuracy of the notice according to the Identity Notification Law," Bolac explained, and said that teams of uniformed police officers were outside the restaurant.

"It is now possible to say that social media 'is under surveillance'. I think that the police control communications made via Twitter and Facebook. This incident was the first control of Twitter, I assume. Even trials can be opened on the grounds of the things written there."

In a circular sent to police directorates on 16 September 2011, the Ministry of the Interior drew attention to the high number of actions organized by protestors via social networking sites or written and visual media.

According to NTV, the ministry wanted to "increase the supervision and control" at designated meeting points announced on this kind of sites.

"Some groups and people that try to destroy a peaceful and serene environment in our country are known to meet at certain places for demonstrations and protest actions. They communicate via the use of social networking sites or written visual media. Increased supervision and control according to the provisions of the Law on Powers and Duties of the Police are useful," the circular read.

The ministry also announced on its website that it was going to open accounts on Facebook and Twitter and "use the social media effectively".
More: http://www.ifex.org/turkey/2012/02/02/police_surveillance/

1 February 2012

First Surveillance of Twitter?
Source: Bianet
Date: 1.2.2012
A group of people who arranged for a dinner via Twitter for the protest action "Haydarpaşa should not get dark" encountered a police control. The police was informed due to a related notice on Twitter. In the opinion of lawyer Bolaç, the police are "closely following the internet".
More: http://bianet.org/english/freedom-of-expression/135853-first-surveillance-of-twitter