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Kurdish journalists harassed, detained ahead of key municipal race in Turkey

The detentions come amid ongoing demonstrations across the majority-Kurdish southeast region in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the arrest of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party leader Abdullah Ocalan.
People take part in a protest against the arrest of nine journalists working for Kurdish media outlets including Mezopotamya news agency in Istanbul, on Oct. 31, 2022.

Pressure on Kurdish media in Turkey showed no signs of letting up as four journalists working for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency and the all-female JINNEWS were detained by police in the early morning hours on Tuesday in the port city of Izmir. 

One other journalist with the liberal online news outlet Duvar and a media relations worker for the pro-Kurdish DEM party were also detained in the raid carried out by anti-terror units, Turkish media reported.

Three of the journalists who are being held incommunicado work for Mezopotamya, a news agency that is frequently targeted by authorities for its trenchant coverage of right abuses against Turkey’s large Kurdish minority. Zeki Gozupek, a reporter at the agency, told Al-Monitor that the detained journalists were being denied access to their lawyers. He said the detentions were likely linked to ongoing demonstrations despite sustained obstruction from security forces, which are taking place across the majority Kurdish southeast region in the run-up to the 25th anniversary on Feb. 15 of the arrest of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. “The aim is to deter and intimidate the media, to prevent them from reporting on these protests calling for the freeing of Abdullah Ocalan,” Gozupek said.

Ocalan has been held in an island prison off the coast of Istanbul since his capture in Nairobi, Kenya, by Turkish Special Forces with the help of the CIA.

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