Caroline Stockford and Sylvia Kuck of PEN Norway highlight the persecution of Kurdish journalists in Turkey, criticising systemic legal failures and authoritarian threats to press freedom.

Recent analyses of 29 indictments against journalists in Turkey reveal systemic faults which amount to judicial harassment, leading to serious human rights abuses.

“Legal examinations reveal systemic faults in cases against journalists,” Caroline Stockford, Turkey Advisor for PEN International Norway, stated, highlighting Turkey’s precarious rank of 165 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index.

On 27 April, just a day after Kurdish Journalists Day, nine journalists were detained in the country, with three, including reporters from Mezopotamya Agency (MA), arrested under terrorism charges. These events have brought renewed focus on the pressures faced by journalists in Turkey, particularly those reporting for Kurdish outlets.

“Despite Turkey’s legal commitments under its Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights to protect press freedom, Kurdish journalists face relentless judicial harassment. Our demand is clear: press freedom, legally protected, must be enforced without discrimination. The ongoing judicial harassment and unfair detentions targeting Mezopotamya Agency’s staff are unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with our Kurdish colleagues,” Stockford added.

Echoing this sentiment, Sylvia Kuck, a board member of the German Journalists Association in Hesse, spoke out against the detention of the three MA journalists: “Journalism is not a threat. The only systems that perceive journalism as dangerous are authoritarian ones. Democracies have freedom of thought and press freedom; these are crucial standards that need defending.”