Turkish media organizations have called for the immediate release of journalist Aziz Oruc at a press conference held at the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD)’s Diyarbakir branch building demanding, the Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.
Last week, Oruc was detained in the Dogubayazit district of eastern Agri province and had been labeled as a terrorist by the Turkish Interior Ministry and the country’s pro-government media outlets since then.
A statement by the ministry, which was later cited as a source by Turkey’s pro-government news outlets covering the incident, announced the journalist’s detention, saying “a terrorist was captured after entering Turkey from the Iranian border.”
Among those who attended Tuesday’s event were representatives from the pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia Women Journalists Platform (MKGP), the Free Journalists Initiative (OGI), and the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS).
Oruc’s family members, as well as the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MPs Saliha Aydeniz, Dersim Dag, and Remziye Tosun, were also present during the press conference urging Oruc’s release.
“Oruc was detained in Turkey on December 11. He was arrested back in 2017 and convicted over crimes related to the press conferences and rallies he had attended. That’s why he had to go to the Kurdish region [of Iraq],” Ayse Guney, MKGP spokeswoman, explained during Tuesday’s conference.
“He was captured by the Armenian authorities while entering the country from Iran, to go to Europe, and was then sent back to Iran, which left him at the Turkey-Iran border,” Guney added.
“They wanted me to enter Turkey illegally. Although I repeatedly tried to go back to Iran from the soil of Turkey and to enter Turkey through official ways, they didn’t let me do that,” Oruc recently told the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA) through his attorneys.
Guney further stated that the story of Aziz Oruc involves an international crime since he was tortured for days back in Armenia, which rejected his asylum request and sent him back to Iran.
“It’s not Aziz’s journalism that must be questioned, but the laws. Everybody who worked with him, who witnessed his journalism, must raise their voices,” she added.
OGI spokesman Hakki Boltan on Tuesday argued that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government creates its own type of pro-government journalists and arrests those who resist it and engage in real journalism.
“Most recently, they attempted to terrorize the journalism that has been done for years by our friend Aziz. Journalism is not a crime; we will continue doing it under all circumstances,” Boltan noted.
Mahmut Oral, TGS’s representative in Diyarbakir, pointed at the oppression dissident journalists face in Turkey, highlighting that a total of 110 journalists are currently behind bars.
“Oruc’s unlawful detention is an example of oppression on journalism in Turkey. Those who try to oppress us should know that this wall of oppression will be demolished,” said Oral indicating that Oruc has been in jail for eight days.
“He is a father first and then a journalist. I want him to be released immediately,” Hulya Oruc, the detained journalist’s wife, also demanded during Tuesday’s conference.