Özgür Gündem trials start: first hearing postponed

Today, the “visiting editors-in-chief” of closed-down Özgür Gündem newspaper started to stand trial. The first hearing, where Ayşe Düzkan and Ragıp Duran stood trial, has been postponed to December 15.

The trials of journalists, who participated in the “visiting editor-in-chief” campaign that was started as an act of solidarity with the closed-down Özgür Gündem newspaper, started today. Before the hearing of Ayşe Düzkan and Ragıp Duran, journalist unions including European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), Journalists' Association of Turkey (TGC) and press union (Basın-İş) of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) made a statement in front of the courthouse. Secretary General of DİSK Arzu Çerkezoğlu, HDP Istanbul MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu and CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu were also there as an act of solidarity.

Both Ayşe Düzkan and Ragıp Duran are charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”, because of the news reports and articles that were published in Özgür Gündem during their one-day “visiting editor-in-chief” work.

Along with Düzkan and Duran, İnan Kızılkaya also stood trial. He was arrested after the newspaper was closed down on August 16 and he was the managing editor.

Ruhi Su and Musa Anter were commemorated

In the press statement, Ruhi Su and Musa Anter were commemorated on the occasion of their death anniversary.

Ayşe Düzkan was the first one to speak. She stated that they are being tried, because they demand democracy and press freedom. Commemorating Musa Anter, Düzkan reminded the oppression that Özgür Gündem has been subjected for years. Reminding that many workers of Özgür Gündem have been killed, Düzkan stated: “Demand of peace is a part of this country. Kurdish people demands equitable peace. As a Turkish person from Izmir, peace is also very important and necessary for me, since young people will going to die during their military service, as long as there is no peace.” Pointing out that the mainstream media has been inciting war, Düzkan emphasized that this is a crime under the international laws: “I believe that the war-mongers will stand trial one day and be punished as they deserve.”

CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu stated that the measure of democracy in a country is the press freedom and the right to receive information and ideas: “Özgür Gündem had been publishing the matters that no one else dares to publish. In Özgür Gündem, there were Hacı Birlik and Hurşit Külter.” Mentioning the footage of Turkish soldiers torturing a woman guerrilla, Tanrıkulu said: “Yesterday, I watched a horrible footage. And today, not a single newspaper is mentioning this. If Özgür Gündem wasn't closed down, they would be reporting this.”

Former editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem Hüseyin Akyol also spoke: “Our 'visiting editor-in-chief' friends have lawsuits against them. We are proud of them.”

Up to now, 100 journalists and intellectuals worked as a visiting editor-in-chief in Özgür Gündem and 20 of them have investigations.

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı, RSF Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu and publisher Ahmet Nesin had been arrested for some time and then released pending trial.

In the next days, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Celal Başlangıç, Fehim Işık, Yıldırım Türker, Ayşe Batumlu, İhsan Çaralan, Murat Çelikkan, Beyza Üstün, Celalettin Can, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin will stand trial.

Novelist and editorial consultant of Özgür Gündem newspaper Aslı Erdoğan has been under arrest for over a month. Linguist Necmiye Alpay is also arrested for being a consultant as well.

On the other hand, charges against 9 people have been dismissed so far. And new investigations continue to be launched against visiting editors-in-chief.

Here is the list of journalists who are called to give a statement: Free Journalists' Association co-chairs Nevin Erdemir ve Hakkı Boltan, Hasan Cemal, Aydın Engin, Şeyhmus Diken, Derya Okatan, Murat Uyurkulak, Said Sefaoğlu, Faruk Balıkçı, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Mehmet Güç, Nadire Mater, Kumru Başer, Kemal Can, Necmiye Alpay, Jülide Kural, Deniz Türkali, Çilem Küçükkeleş, H. Hayri Şanlı, Veysi Altay. 



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Gözde Kazaz