An author, lawyer and journalist who made a career and a name for herself from years of working as a court reporter who chased high-profile legal cases has become a victim of Turkish government’s massive crackdown on freedom of press in Turkey.
Ayşenur Parıldak, a 27-year-old reporter from Turkey’s now-closed Zaman newspaper who has been behind bars for 13 months, was named the recipient of the first Shahnoush Award by the Oslo-based Vigdis Freedom Foundation.
Recently a messenger came to Colorado with dark warnings from a troubled land: Abdulhamit Bilici, the former editor-in-chief of Zaman, Turkey’s go-to newspaper before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brutal crackdown. You don’t often meet people like Abdulhamit Bilici in the United States. You almost can’t believe that someone with his backstory sits before you.
Hanım Büşra Erdal was subjected to a strip search at the police station and humiliated by police officers when she was taken from her prison cell as she was preparing to leave the prison. A strip search is allowed only if circumstances so warrant. “She is a journalist and was taken from the prison. She was already going through routine checks and searches in prison,” her lawyer said.
A number of TV and radio stations that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15 due to their links to the faith-based Gülen movement have been sold to the pro-government Turkuvaz Media Group without a tender.
An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks three consecutive life sentences for 30 individuals who include journalists and executives from the now-closed Zaman daily on coup charges. The daily, which was affiliated with the Gülen movement, was first seized by the Turkish government in March 2016 and the closed down in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
On March 4, 2016, exactly one year ago today , hundreds of riot police officers fired rubber bullets and gassed loyal readers of Turkey’s best-selling daily when they stood vigil on the sidewalk across the newspaper’s offices to peacefully protest the news of impending the unlawful takeover of Zaman newspaper.
Journalist Abdulhamit Bilici, who was dismissed as editor-in-chief of Zaman said the Zaman daily should have kept its distance from the ruling AKP. He also said his media group made a mistake by not objecting to the imprisonment of journalists in the late 2000s.
The Turkish-language newspaper “Zaman” will stop operations in Germany after “threats” to readers, a staff member has said. The Turkish government took over the paper in Turkey itself in March. “Our subscribers are being visited; they are being threatened that if they continue to subscribe, they will have problems,” Bag said. He added that the current situation in Turkey, where the government is carrying out a wide-ranging media purge, was spilling over into Germany.
Thanks to a new decree law released as part of the state of emergency declared late on July 20 following a failed coup, Turkey’s government is now set to seize all the Turkish companies owned by businessmen somehow linked to the US-based Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Before the live feed was cut from the Zaman building on that Friday in March, I watched police shoot rubber bullets into the crowd gathered to protest the paper’s seizure. Bloodied, the crowd retreated, still screaming for free speech but knowing hope was gone.