In Turkey / Türkiye

Hurriyet Daily News, Jan 8, 2016

Imprisoned journalist Can Dündar's wife Dilek Dündar accepts Press Freedom Award on husband's behalf in front of Silivri Prison. (Hüseyin Sarı, Today's Zaman)

Imprisoned journalist Can Dündar’s wife Dilek Dündar accepts Press Freedom Award on husband’s behalf in front of Silivri Prison. (Hüseyin Sarı, Today’s Zaman)

Dilek Dündar, the wife of imprisoned Cumhuriyet Editor-In-Chief Can Dündar, accepted a Press Freedom Award in front of Silivri Prison on behalf of her husband on Friday, sharing a note from Dündar saying he dedicates the award to all imprisoned journalists and hopes for an improvement of freedoms not only for journalists but for the whole of Turkey.

Dündar was handed the award by the İzmir Karşıyaka Municipality and the İzmir Journalists Association (İGC) but was unable to accept the award on Oct. 10, when twin suicide bombings in Ankara killed 102 people and injured more than 500.

In his note, Dündar also said he believes Silivri will eventually be home to those who commit real offenses.

Karşıyaka Mayor Hüseyin Mutlu Akpınar and IGC President Misket Dikmen jointly granted the award to Dilek Dündar in front of Silivri, during which Akpınar stated Dündar actually won the award in 2015 but the two general elections and terrorist attacks prevented an award ceremony from being held last year.

“Amid the Ankara bombings grief, the two institutions decided to postpone the award ceremony until after the Nov. 1 general election but then Dündar was arrested and put in Silivri. I think this is the first time in history a freedom award was given out in front of a prison. It is a shame for democracy. Everyone should acknowledge that the creation of an advanced democracy is not possible by imposing limitations over peoples’ rights and freedoms. If those journalists are in prison today, it is because they honestly informed the public and practiced free thought. They are not being held in prison for trying to incite a war that killed people or trying to deprive individuals of their freedoms. They are suffering for defending freedoms,” Akpınar told the media at the event.

Dikmen noted there are 32 journalists currently behind bars in Turkey and for the first time this award is being granted to a journalist who is still in jail.

“In previous years, we presented this award to several journalists who saw the inside of a jail cell at some point in their lives. I hope in the future no journalist will be imprisoned for conducting journalism and for using their rights granted by the Constitution,” Dikmen addded.

Taking to the floor, Dilek Dündar said journalists have for a long time been subjected to increasing bans and punishments for their efforts to shed light on the matters for the public benefit and are paying the price for what they have done.

“Journalists are doomed to have a life stuck between death and prisons. Death separated us from Metin Göktepe [a journalist who was allegedly beaten to death by the police in 1996 and whose assailants have escaped punishment so far]. What kind of crime did Metin commit? He just did his work. Dear Can, we used to visit journalists who were in prison and carried their photos on our collars. We always believed everything will be back on track. Later, we used to say no success will go unpunished. And now, you are in prison but feel comfortable. You are awarded frequently. I receive this award on your behalf. I do not despair about the future of this country,” she noted.

In the meantime, Mehmet Soğancı, the head of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB), took over the Wait for Hope vigil in front of Silivri on Friday in support of Dündar and Cumhuriyet Ankara bureau’s chief Erdem Gül.

The vigil was started by Bütün Dünya magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Mete Akyol as a sit-in protest in front of Silivri on Dec. 2.

Dündar and Gül were arrested on Nov. 26 after being charged in May with “espionage,” “revealing confidential documents” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” The charges relate to the Cumhuriyet daily’s publishing of a report claiming that trucks loaded with weapons, discovered in January 2014 en route to Syria, actually belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and had been sent to provide support to rebel groups.

Read also:
Kurdish reporter tortured by Turkish police while in custody, ANF News report, published on Kurdish Daily News, Jan 9, 2016

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