Sheep, umbrellas, and journalism on trial  

While the Turkish government’s way of handling crime, terror, and threat is laughable at times, with detained sheep and confiscated umbrellas, there is no humour in our country’s human rights violations, impunity, and non-existent rule of law. Today five journalists will stand trial, accused of spreading terror propaganda simply because of the subject matter of their journalistic endeavours.

While the Turkish government’s way of handling crime, terror, and threat is laughable at times, with detained sheep and confiscated umbrellas, there is no humour in our country’s human rights violations, impunity, and non-existent rule of law. On April 2, five journalists will stand trial, accused of spreading terror propaganda simply because of the subject matter of their journalistic endeavours. Journalism itself is being targeted.
 
The Turkish government’s way of handling crime, terror, and threat is laughable at times.
 
Most recently, anyone LGBTI+ is regarded as a threat to society. Even rainbow flags and umbrellas were confiscated by police at women’s gatherings and Istanbul Convention protests. Journalists’ notes and phone calls to news organizations or any story they cover can be used as “proof” of terrorist propaganda or membership. Even one hundred sheep can be detained in Ceylanpınar, Urfa, simply because they dared to graze upon the Ministry of Agriculture’s terrain.

But I see no humour in our country’s human rights violations, impunity, and non-existent rule of law. Some are still asking whether Turkey is an authoritarian state or a hybrid democracy. However, attempting to shut down the HDP, stripping politicians of their status, targeting women’s rights, LGBTI+, civil society groups, institutions, freedom of speech all imply the existence of a totalitarian state.
 
The impact of these policies those individuals and groups targeted is devastating. The recently touted Human Rights Action Plan or Erdoğan pointing to a ‘civil constitution’ do not foment hope.
 
On Friday, April 2, five journalists, four of whom have been imprisoned for six months, will stand trial. Kurdish journalists are being accused of spreading terror propaganda and recruiting new members, simply because of the subject matter of their journalistic endeavours.
 
Journalism itself is being targeted. Bizarre standards are used to hold them to account, such as which stories that have not covered.
 
However, the real reason these journalists have been imprisoned is the Van torture case. In September, two villagers were found in a coma, one of them later died due to severe injury. They had been detained by the armed forced following an operation against the PKK.
 
Mesopotamia Agency was the first to report the story, followed by JinNews and other Kurdish journalists. There is still no progress on the torture case, but the journalists who choose to cover the events are now at risk.
 
This is just one example of severe violations of human rights and press freedom.

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