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Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Turkey

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Turkey , February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5651c16.html [accessed 26 December 2014]
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Authorities have sustained their all-out assault on the press. Censorship, arbitrary detention, harassment, and imprisonment of journalists persists, as the state punishes independent reporting and commentary on the government's 11-year-old conflict with Kurdish rebels in the Southeast. Seventy-eight journalists remain in prison – the highest such total of any country in the world. Turkish courts sentenced the majority of these prisoners for violating the infamous Anti-Terror Law and the Penal Code. Both laws give courts considerable latitude in prosecuting journalists.

The most prominent case in 1996 was a state security court's March 7 conviction of noted author and journalist Yasar Kemal under Article 312 of the Penal Code. Kemal received a 20-month suspended sentence for "inciting hatred" in relation to two articles he had written for a book of essays titled Turkey and Freedom of Expression. In one of the articles, Kemal accused the Turkish government of waging a "campaign of lies" in its comprehensive censorship of reporting on the Kurds.

The state security courts have used the Anti-Terror Law and the Penal Code with equal severity to censor newspapers, frequently issuing closure orders. The leftist daily Evrensel, in particular, suffered a series of harsh measures in early 1996. On April 4, an Istanbul security court ordered the paper closed for one month for "inciting hatred" and "promoting racism." On April 9, April 19, and May 9, the paper was again ordered closed, for periods ranging from 10 to 30 days, for violating both the Anti-Terror Law and the Penal Code.

Beyond prosecution and censorship, journalists have increasingly been the targets of harassment and police violence. In 1996, CPJ was able to document 14 cases of arbitrary detention and 19 instances of police physically assaulting journalists doing their jobs. Most alarming was the Jan. 8 beating death of Evrensel journalist Metin Göktepe. Eleven police officers charged with Göktepe's murder went on trial in October. If convicted, they each face up to 16-and-a-half years in prison.

In the self-styled republic of Northern Cyprus, propped up by 35,000 Turkish troops, unknown assailants on July 6 gunned down Kutli Adali, a 61-year-old columnist for the daily Yeni Duzen, near his home. Adali was an outspoken critic of the Ankara-backed northern government's controversial population policies, which continue to facilitate the settlement of Turkish nationals in north Cyprus. Shortly before his murder, he had received anonymous threats spurred by an investigative report about the theft of antiquities from a Cypriot monastery, in which he had implicated a retired Turkish general. A little-known group, the Turkish Defense Brigades, claimed responsibility for Adali's murder, although no one has yet been charged in the crime. Government investigations into the murder have been described by many observers as inadequate.

The formation of the Islamist-led government of Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in June 1996 failed to result in any noticeable improvements in the realm of press freedom. But the international community's sustained scrutiny of the Turkish government's actions offers a modest degree of hope for the future. Efforts such as the European Parliament's decision in October to temporarily suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid to the government, because of its poor human rights record, may produce the necessary leverage to pressure Ankara for change.

1996
Tekin Aygun, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

Aygun, a reporter for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was arrested and remains in Umraniye Prison. The circumstances of his arrest are unclear.

1996
Songül Çinar, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

Çinar, a reporter for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was arrested and charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the penal code. She is currently in Ankara Prison.

1996
Adil Kurt, Newroz, IMPRISONED

Kurt, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish magazine Newroz, was arrested in early 1996 and remains incarcerated in Gaziantep Prison. The circumstances of his imprisonment are not clear.

1996
Ozden Ozbay, Ozgur Ülke, IMPRISONED

Ozbay, the former editor of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Ozgur Ülke, was arrested and charged with violating Article 312 of the Penal Code and Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Anti-Terror Law. He has yet to be sentenced and is currently in Gebze Prison.

1996
Hafize Sayran, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

Sayran, the Zonguldak bureau chief for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was arrested and is being held in Ankara Prison. It is unclear what charges, if any, were filed.

January 1
Sedat Hayta, Devrimci Emek, IMPRISONED

A former editor for the leftist weekly Devrimci Emek, Hayta was arrested and charged with aiding an outlawed organization under Article 169 of the Penal Code. He is currently in Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul.

January 8
Metin Goktepe, Evrensel, KILLED

Goktepe, a reporter for the left-wing daily Evrensel, was found beaten to death near a gymnasium in Istanbul. Earlier that same day Goktepe was covering a funeral for two leftist inmates killed during a prison riot. He had been stopped by police and taken to a nearby Istanbul gymnasium, where 1, 053 mourners from the service were being detained. In the presence of hundreds of detainees, police officers ordered Goktepe to lie face down on the floor and began kicking him and beating him with their batons and fists. After losing consciousness, Goktepe was dragged out of the gym and left to die on a bench outside. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a brain hemorrhage brought on by severe blows to the head. In a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, CPJ urged the government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the matter. Evrensel blames police for Goktepe's murder, but the police have denied responsibility. Although no one was formally arrested, 11 policemen are charged with Goktepe's murder. Their trial began in October, and, if convicted, they each face up to 16-and-a-half years in prison.

January 30
Erhan Il, Devrimci Emek, IMPRISONED

Il, a reporter for the leftist magazine Devrimci Emek, was arrested and charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the Penal Code. He is being held in Bayrampasa Prison.

February 19
Ozgur Oktem, Devrimci Emek, IMPRISONED

Oktem, a reporter for the leftist magazine Devrimci Emek, was arrested and charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the Penal Code. He is being held in Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul.

March 7
Yasar Kemal, LEGAL ACTION

An Istanbul State Security Court convicted the prominent Turkish author and journalist Kemal of "inciting hatred" and imposed a 20-month suspended prison sentence on him. He was convicted of violating Article 312 of the Penal Code for two articles he published in a collection of essays called Turkey and Freedom of Expression. One of the articles was originally written for the German magazine Der Spiegel. In that article, he accused the Turkish government of waging a "campaign of lies" to hide its oppression of the Kurds. He was sentenced even though the prosecutor recommended that Kemal be acquitted and despite the fact that in December 1995 he had been found innocent of similar charges regarding the same article's publication in Der Spiegel. Kemal's publisher was also convicted on the same charge but had his sentence converted to a suspended fine. Kemal is planning to appeal the suspended sentence, stating that accepting it would be tantamount to admitting guilt for writing about the Kurdish insurgency.

March 13
Hamza Yalcin, Odak, IMPRISONED

Yalcin, a reporter with the left-wing monthly Odak, was detained during a police raid on Odak's office in Istanbul. Five other journalists with Odak who were detained with Yalcin were released on March 21. Yalcin was formally arrested and charged with belonging to an illegal organization. He is being held in Bayrampasa Prison in Istanbul.

March 15
Aslihan Yucesan, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Ibrahim Cicek, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Haci Orman, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Aysel Cicek, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Sabahat Karahan, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Zeynel Yesil, Atilim, IMPRISONED
Dogan Sahin, Atilim, IMPRISONED

Yucesan, owner of the weekly Atilim, and at least six reporters and editors from the weekly were taken into police custody. Among the detained journalists were Cicek, Orman, Cicek, Karahan, Yesil, and Sahin. Police initially denied that they had detained the journalists; then, after three days, acknowledged the fact. Atilla Cinar, chief of the counter-terrorism department of the Istanbul police, accused the journalists of membership in the Marxist Leninist Communist Party, an urban guerrilla organization thought to be responsible for several bombings and robberies in Istanbul. On March 29, Ibrahim Cicek, Sahin and Orman were transferred to Bayrampasa Prison. They have been charged with membership in an illegal organization, a violation of Article 168 of the Penal Code. The reporter Karahan and Atilim's owner, Yucesan, were released.

March 16
Ibrahim Cicek, Atilim, IMPRISONED

Cicek, a former editor in chief of the leftist weekly Atilim, was detained during a police raid on the paper's headquarters in Istanbul. He has been charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the Penal Code and is being held in Bayrampasa Prison.

March 18
Hatice Onaran, Devrimci Cozum, IMPRISONED

Onaran, formerly the editor legally responsible for the left-wing monthly Devrimci Cozum was arrested and detained after her sentence to six years and ten months in prison was upheld. She was convicted of publishing terrorist propaganda under Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law. The charges cited six articles published in Devrimci Cozum. She is currently being held in Gebze Prison, outside Istanbul.

March 19
Atilim, LEGAL ACTION, CENSORED
Ismail Akkin, Atilim, LEGAL ACTION
Ozgür Genclik, LEGAL ACTION

Istanbul's State Security Court ordered the weekly paper Atilim closed for one month for allegedly disseminating "separatist propaganda." The court also sentenced Akkin, the weekly's editor, to six months in prison on the same charge. Akkin is free pending an appeal. The order also suspended Ozgür Genclik, a magazine for young people published by Atilim. CPJ urged the Turkish government to reverse the closure of Atilim and the sentencing of Akkin.

March 21
Serpil Korkmaz, Demokrasi, IMPRISONED

Korkmaz, a reporter with the pro-Kurdish daily Demokrasi, was detained by police in Istanbul. She was released on April 2 without charge.

March 23
Burhan Ozbilici, Associated Press (AP), ATTACKED
Kemal Gokcanli, Channel 6, ATTACKED
Serkan Cinier, Interstar, ATTACKED

Police officers beat photographers and cameramen who were covering a police raid on an Ankara University building that had been taken over by students protesting tuition increases. Among those assaulted were Ozbilici, a photographer with the AP; Gokcanli, a cameraman for the privately owned Channel 6 television station; and Cinier, a cameraman with the privately owned Interstar television station. The two cameramen were hospitalized after the attack. Ozbilici's account of the incident indicated that police intentionally targeted the journalists. CPJ called on the Turkish government to discipline the police officers who brutalized the journalists.

April 9
Evrensel, CENSORED
Ali Erol, Evrensel, LEGAL ACTION

An Istanbul State Security Court ordered the leftist daily Evrensel shut down for one month for charges relating to two articles it published on Aug. 30, 1995. The first article, titled "Special Forces Execution in Midyat," was ruled to have incited racism, which is in violation of Article 312 of the Penal Code. The second, "Efforts To Mediate Between Iraqi Kurdish Groups," was deemed a violation of Article 6 of the Anti-Terror Law banning the publication of "statements by terror organizations." Earlier, on April 4, Evrensel was ordered shut down for one month for "inciting hatred" and "promoting racism" in a September 1995 column about World Peace Day. The column called for an end to the fighting between the Turkish army and Kurdish rebels. The daily continued publishing pending an appeal. Also on April 9, Erol, the editor legally responsible for Evrensel, was sentenced to two years in prison and fined US$1, 050 on the same charges as those made against the newspaper. On April 4, a previous two-year prison sentence against Erol was commuted to a US$60 fine. Erol remains free and the paper continues publishing pending appeals of these convictions.

April 18
Evrensel, LEGAL ACTION

An Istanbul State Security Court ordered the leftist daily Evrensel closed for 10 days for publishing the statement of a terrorist organization, a violation of Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law. The charge cited an article about the Revolutionary Front of the People's Liberation Party, published in the paper on Oct. 29, 1995.

April 18
Hürriyet, ATTACKED

Gunmen raked the Istanbul headquarters of Hürriyet, one of Turkey's leading dailies, with automatic gunfire as they sped past in a car. No injuries were reported, but bullets shattered the windows. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 3
Veli Aydin, Ozgur Gelecek, IMPRISONED

Aydin, a reporter for the leftist magazine Ozgur Gelecek, was arrested and has been charged with membership in an illegal organization under Article 168 of the Penal Code. He is currently in Sagmalcilar Prison.

May 7
Emin Konar, Ozgur Halk, IMPRISONED

A reporter for the pro-Kurdish monthly magazine Ozgur Halk, Konar was detained during a police raid on the magazine's office in Elazig and later arrested and charged under Article 169 of the Penal Code (aiding an outlawed organization). He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and is currently in Elbistan Hapas Prison.

May 9
Evrensel, LEGAL ACTION
Ali Erol, Evrensel, LEGAL ACTION
Haluk Gerger, Evrensel , LEGAL ACTION

An Istanbul State Security Court ordered the leftist daily Evrensel closed for 20 days for publishing an article titled "Confessions of a Military Officer," which allegedly incited racism, a violation of Article 312 of the Penal Code. Erol, the editor legally responsible for Evrensel, received a two-year prison sentence, which was commuted to a US$50 fine. Earlier in May, in a separate case, Gerger, a free-lance writer and contributor to the newspaper, was convicted of inciting racial hatred and was sentenced to 20 months in prison for an article published in Evrensel in June 1995. He remains free pending appeal. In a letter to Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, CPJ expressed its fear that the paper was being targeted for demanding that policemen who beat an Evrensel reporter to death in January be brought to justice.

May 12
Mustafa Demirdag, Ozgur Gelecek, IMPRISONED

Demirdag, an editor for the leftist magazine Ozgur Gelecek, was arrested and later tried and convicted under the Anti-Terror Law. He is serving a three-year and five-month sentence in Sakarya prison.

May 13
Bulent Balci, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

A former editor of the leftist weekly Kurtulus, Balci was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison under Article 168 of the Penal Code (being a member of an outlawed organization). He is in Umraniye Prison.

May 21
Aydinlik, CENSORED

A court ordered the leftist weekly Aydinlik to cancel an article it planned to publish in its May 25 issue. The article contained allegations by a leader of Turkey's criminal underworld that Minister of Justice Mehmet Agar, formerly the national police chief, had ties to organized crime. Aydinlik complied with the court order to remove the story, but on May 24 the issue was seized at the printer anyway, on charges that it was pornographic. On May 31, police confiscated the June 1 issue of Aydinlik after a judge ruled that one of its articles insulted the judiciary. The piece, titled "Are the Judges Mehmet Agar's Personal Bodyguards?," criticized the May 24 seizure of the weekly. CPJ wrote to Turkey's Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and condemned the ongoing government campaign against the newspaper.

May 29
Radio Aktif, ATTACKED

Radio Aktif, a local radio station in the Mediterranean coastal town of Mersin in southern Turkey, was set on fire by unidentified assailants. The fire destroyed all the station's equipment, tapes, and documents. No one was injured in the blaze.

June 8
Mehmet Guc, ATV, HARASSED
Sevil Erdogan, Siyah Beyaz, HARASSED
Sukran Can, Demokrasi, HARASSED
Nadire Mater, IPS, HARASSED
Atilim reporter, HARASSED
Devrimci Emek reporter, HARASSED
Mete Cubukcu, ATV, ATTACKED
Musa Agacik, Milliyet, ATTACKED
Other journalists, ATTACKED

Six reportersÑGuc of the privately owned ATV; Erdogan of the mainstream daily Siyah Beyaz; Can of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Demokrasi; Mater of IPS; and two unidentified journalists, one with the leftist Atilim and the other with Devrimci Emek - were detained by police while covering a demonstration in Istanbul against poor working conditions for civil servants. Two other reporters, Cubukcu of ATV and Agacik of the mainstream daily Milliyet, were kicked and punched by police. Other journalists were also assaulted. Police dispersed the demonstrators, who had not obtained permission for the rally, and detained more than 250 people.

June 17
Interstar, CENSORED
Channel D, CENSORED
ATV, CENSORED
Show TV, CENSORED
Channel 7, CENSORED
Can TV, CENSORED
Mega Radio, CENSORED

The Radio and Television High Board (RTUK) ordered blackouts of four television stations and issued warnings against six stations for a wide range of coverage that they deemed unacceptable. RTUK ordered Interstar Television of Istanbul to stop broadcasting for three days (June 27-29) and three other television stations - Channel D, ATV, and Show TV, all in Istanbul - to shut down for a day. RTUK also warned Interstar, Channel D, and Show TV that they could face another blackout for further transgressions. The RTUK also issued warnings against Channel 7 of Istanbul, Can TV of Diyarbakir, and Mega Radio of Adapazari. A warning is the first step toward a blackout. Interstar was accused of "going overboard" in its criticism of a public figure, aired during a news bulletin on April 25. ATV was reprimanded for a May 29 newscast that reported on a controversial trial. The board said that ATV had violated a court order not to report the proceedings. Channel D and Show TV were accused of violating an article of the radio and television law banning programs that "could harm the psychological development of children and youth." Channel D had aired a magazine show about ghosts and spirits, and Show TV had aired a program about genies.

June 25
Yildiz Gemicioglu, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

Gemicioglu, a former Adana bureau chief of the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was arrested by authorities and remains in Konya Prison without charge.

June 25
Altan Koman, Atilim, IMPRISONED

Koman, a reporter for the Iskenderun bureau of Atilim, was arrested and charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the Penal Code. He is currently in Malatya Prison.

June 28
Nurcan Turgut, Demokrasi, IMPRISONED

Turgut, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish daily Demokrasi, was detained by police during a raid on the newspaper's office in Elazig. She was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison under Article 169 of the Penal Code (aiding an outlawed organization). Turgut is serving her sentence in Nevsehir Prison.

Early July
Fehmi Calmuk, Aksam, HARASSED
Ahmet Hamdi Takan, Interstar Television, HARASSED
Noyan Unal, Interstar Television, HARASSED

Calmuk, a political reporter for the mainstream daily Aksam; Takan, a political reporter for Interstar Television; and Unal, an Interstar cameraman, were covering parliamentary coalition negotiations when they were harassed by police. The police had been called by politicians from the Welfare and True Path parties, who were participating in the negotiations and knew that the journalists were waiting to interview them as they emerged from the talks. When the journalists showed the police their government-issued press cards, the police reportedly told them they could not tell whether their identification cards were authentic. The three were taken into custody around midnight and released a few hours later.

July 6
Kutlu Adali, Yeni Duzen, KILLED

Adali, a political columnist with the leftist daily newspaper Yeni Duzen, was shot and killed near his home in Lefkosa, the Turkish sector of Nicosia in north Cyprus. The Turkish Revenge Brigade, a little-known, extreme right-wing group, claimed responsibility for the murder. The Turkish Revenge Brigade first came to public attention several months ago when it circulated pamphlets in Northern Cyprus warning that it would punish those who oppose the cause of the Turks in Cyprus. Yeni Duzen is an organ of the leftist Republican Turkish Party (CTP). Adali was an outspoken critic of policies of the Northern Cypriot government and had criticized many politicians in his newspaper column. He was known as an advocate of peaceful cooperation with the Greek-dominated state of Cyprus. CPJ wrote to the Northern Cypriot authorities and urged them to conduct a thorough investigation into Adali's murder.

July 15
Hatice Tuncer, Cumhuriyet, ATTACKED
Kaan Saganak, Cumhuriyet, ATTACKED
Irfan Kurt, Evrensel, ATTACKED
Muhittin Erdogan, Kurtulus, ATTACKED
Aysun Gunduz, Atilim, ATTACKED
Sevil Erdogan, Siyah Beyaz, ATTACKED
Alper Turgut, Cumhuriyet, ATTACKED
Efe Erdem, Milliyet, ATTACKED
Yuksel Koc, Global Daily, ATTACKED
Saban Dayanan, Mavi Radio, ATTACKED

Tuncer, a reporter for the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet; Saganak, a photographer with Cumhuriyet; Kurt, a journalist with Evrensel; Erdogan, a reporter for Kurtulus; and Gunduz, a reporter with Atilim, were beaten and detained by police while trying to cover a demonstration against police brutality in front of the office of the governor of Istanbul. Police dragged several of the journalists away by their hair, broke cameras, and confiscated film. The journalists were later released. Police also beat five other photographers and reporters. According to eyewitness accounts, police intentionally targeted journalists. Several reporters who were attacked fled to the office of the Turkish Journalists Association. They were chased by three police officers, who forced their way into the association's office. The secretary general of the association, Leyla Tavsanoglu, objected to the police raid, telling the police that they were pursuing legitimate journalists. The police countered by claiming the journalists were terrorists. CPJ wrote a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan expressing fear that unchecked police brutality against journalists will have a chilling effect on press freedom in Turkey. CPJ urged the Turkish government to bring to justice those officers responsible for the attacks and to issue clear directives to the police aimed at preventing the abuse of journalists.

July 19
Can TV, CENSORED

Diyarbakir-based Can TV was warned by the Radio and Television High Board (RTUK) not to use the Kurdish language in news broadcasts. A Can TV official said that Kurdish was used only when local interviewees were responding to questions. A second warning from the RTUK could result in a one-day blackout of the station.

August
Fatih Yesilbag, Ozgur Gundem, IMPRISONED

A former editor in chief of the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, Yesilbag was arrested and charged under numerous articles of the penal code and Anti-Terror Law. He is currently being held in Bursa-Keles Prison.

August
Gennue Kilic, Ozgur Ulke, IMPRISONED

Kilic, a former editor of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Ulke, was charged and convicted under Article 169 of the penal code (aiding an outlawed organization). She also faces additional charges under the penal code and the Anti-Terror Law for articles published in the newspaper during her tenure.

November
Beyazit Ekiz, Kizilbayrak, IMPRISONED
Duygu Tuna, Kizilbayrak, IMPRISONED

Ekiz and Tuna, reporters for the Gebze bureau of the leftist weekly Kizilbayrak, were detained during a police raid on the magazine's office. Both women were formally arrested and charged with being members of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the penal code. They are being held in Gebze Prison.

November
Esra Yildirim, Kurtulus, IMPRISONED

Yildirim, a Trabzon correspondent for the leftist weekly Kurtulus, was charged with aiding an outlawed organization under Article 169 of the penal code and is currently being held in Ankara Prison.

November 17
Cuma Akin, OzgurHalk, IMPRISONED

Akin, the Batman bureau chief for the pro-Kurdish monthly magazine OzgurHalk, was detained after a police raid on the magazine's Diyarbakir office. He is being held in Diyarbakir Prison, awaiting official charge.

November 17
Ozgur Cavusoglu, Atilim, IMPRISONED

A reporter working at the Izmir bureau of Atilim, Cavusoglu was arrested at his home and charged with being a member of an outlawed organization under Article 168 of the penal code. He is being held in Buca Prison.

November 19
Muteber Yildirim, Ozgur Ulke, IMPRISONED

Yildirim, a reporter for the now-defunct pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Ulke, was convicted under Article 312 of the penal code for an article he wrote for the newspaper. He is currently being held in Bayrampasa Prison.

November 20
Adil Harmanci, Demokrasi, IMPRISONED

Harmanci, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish daily Demokrasi, was detained at his home in Van by police along with his wife. Although his wife was released, Harmanci remains in Van Prison without charge.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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