Turkish police arrest editors of main Kurdish daily, feminist news agency

JINHA journalist accused of spreading terrorist propaganda · Turkish authorities issue arrest warrants against 42 journalists in the country

Zehra Dogan and Zeynel Bulut.
Zehra Dogan and Zeynel Bulut.
Turkey's wave of arrests after the attempted coup of July 15 is not only hitting thousands of politicians, judges and military personnel, but also journalists. Some of them are prominent Kurdish media editors. Zeynel Abidin Bulut, editor of the main Kurdish daily in Turkey, Azadiya Welat, was arrested yesterday. And five days ago, the editor of JINHA, a pioneering feminist Kurdish news agency, was detained too.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) yesterday reported Bulut's arrest in a checkpoint in Amed (Diyarbakir), the capital of North Kurdistan. According to the CPJ, Azadiya Welat's lawyer said Bulut had been detained after an appeal court upheld a sentence against him without his knowledge. The lawyer added that it was not known on what charges the journalist had been arrested, or whether the arrest was related to his job.

Meanwhile, JINHA agency reported that one of its editors, Zehra Dogan, was arrested on 21 July while she was in a cafe in Mardin. As reported by the agency, Dogan was accused of spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization. Dogan has been reporting over the last five months on the conflict between Turkish forces and PKK-linked militias in the area of Nisêbîn (Nusaybin).

Azadiya Welat is the successor to former weekly Welat, launched in Istanbul in 1992 shortly after a veto against Kurdish language publications was lifted. Over the last years, Sseveral editors and editors-in-chief of the newspaper have been jailed on charges of spreading PKK propaganda.

JINHA is a women-only news agency, currently specializing in Kurdistan and the feminist movement. Operating since 2012, it reports in Turkish, Kurdish and English. JINHA's reporters often suffer harassment and arrests by the Turkish forces.

Dogan's and Bulut's arrests add to those of other Turkish journalists having been detained since July 15. The situation could worsen after Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants against 42 journalists whom are believed to be related to the coup. At least five of them have been arrested.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) speaks of a "wholesale and arbitrary nature of the attacks on the Turkish media" under the current context, and recalls that Turkey is ranked 151 of 180 in the world index of press freedom.