18th July: One Day, Three trials. A New Normal For Turkey’s Free Speech

18 July is a critical day for free speech in Turkey. Three different trials have been held at three different courthouses across the country. Critics argue, that for all of these trials the motivation is to violate the freedom of speech of politicians, journalists and activists for political maneuvering. The Coalition For Women In Journalism is following all these trials closely, with deep concern about how women journalists get effected by these long courthouse proceedings, including those who are not themselves on trial but feel effected by them nonetheless.

Journalist Kibriye Evren (GazeteDuvar)

Journalist Kibriye Evren (GazeteDuvar)

One crucial trial today was a representative of the situation in which women journalists work in Turkey today, especially those working for the Kurdish or opposition media. Kibriye Evren, who is working for the pro-Kurdish news agency Jinnews, is convicted of making propaganda of a terrorist organization and supporting it due to her tweets, RTs, journalistic acts and travel routes to abroad. Anonymous witness statements, which are very popular nowadays regarding the cases of the journalists, were also included in the indictment. In an interview to CFWIJ on July 17th a day prior to the trial, her lawyer Pirozhan Karaali had told us that they expect the verdict of the court committee in this hearing, but today the hearing has been delayed to 24 September.

Canan Kaftancıoğlu leaving the courthouse on 18 July

Canan Kaftancıoğlu leaving the courthouse on 18 July

CHP İstanbul provincial head Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been convicted of defamation of the president, spreading hatred in the society and making propaganda of a terrorist organization due to her social media posts that date back to 2011- 2012. The second hearing of the trial carried out today, early in the morning at İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse. Many journalists, supporters, activists, human rights defenders participated in the hearing. In spite of the crowd, the demand of the lawyers for a bigger place to hold the hearing was declined by the judge. The prosecution requested that Kaftancıoğlu be found guilty and sentenced to a jail term. The defense team has asked the court not to reach a verdict until all evidence has been gathered for which the defense team requested additional time. All requests of the defense were rejected and the trial was adjourned to September 6th.

Before leaving the courthouse, she made a statement for the press mentioning “Those (cases) are not coincidence, but a judicial engineering. AK Party designs politics through the judiciary.”

The last hearing of today that has still been going on in Silivri, the outskirt district of İstanbul, is marking one of the historical protests in the history of modern Turkey; Gezi Park Protests. According to the 657-page indictment prepared for Gezi Park protests, Osman Kavala, a businessman and human rights defender who has been in prison since November 2017, and the human rights defender Yiğit Aksakoğlu who was imprisoned for 8 months and released at the first hearing, journalist Can Dündar and actor Mehmet Ali Alabora including 16 defendants are accused of attempting to eliminate the government of the Republic of Turkey. As a two-day long hearing, the verdict of the court committee is expected to be announced tomorrow.

As the Coalition For Women In Journalism, we have been monitoring and following each cases related to the freedom of speech in Turkey. Our main demand from the Turkish authorities is to regulate the judiciary system for a new page in Turkey’s free speech and recognize journalists not as defenders of particular groups, but the truth itself.

For more information about any cases of abuse or obstruction of reporting for women journalists in Turkey or other parts of the world, please get in touch with us below.

Press Contacts:

Nida Kara:

Regional Coordinator