Free Turkey Introduction

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Turks & Tourists walk in Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey. The square and the park that lays in it became infamous world wide in the summer of 2013 as the focal point of the Gezi Park movement. 1000’s of Turks went to the streets to vent and peacefully protest there dissatisfaction with the Turkish Government headed by the Prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

 

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Sedat Senoglu at his office in the Fatih neighbourhood of Istanbul. He is facing trial at the end of the month for writing critical articles about the ruling right wing AKP party, he is editor and writer for the Atlim newspaper. Accused of being a member of the outlawed Leninist, Stalinist, and Communist Party he was released two years ago after spending six years in jail with out trial. He was freed after a ruling by the EU court of human rights. Sedat faced a life sentence for his journalistic activities. In November 2013 he was jailed for seven years for being an alleged member of an illegal organisation.

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Screen grab from a YouTube video showing a member of the police assaulting a young female protester by the banks of the Bosphorus in the summer of 2013.

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Arzur Demir sits at her home above the ETHA news agency where she works. In June 2013 she was sexually assaulted after the police raided her house during the Gezi Park protests.She is facing 12 years incarceration and accused of being a PKK sympathiser as well as in sighting terrorism after questioning the Turkish governments policies in the Kurdish east of the country in her weekly columns. She writes for numerous mainstream and alternative media outlets.

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A large poster of a woman in a traditional Muslim Hijab advertises conservative fashion near Istikal St the main shopping area in Istanbul. The Government in Turkey is increasingly pushing a traditional conservative agenda. Many young secular Turks and Journalists have been persecuted and marginalised for opposing and questioning the ruling AKP conservative right wing policies.

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Mehmet Ali wears a gas park used whilst covering the recent Gezi protests in the "Red Flag" newspaper agency offices. He was recently arrested whilst covering protests in the Kadikoy neighbourhood of Istanbul. Although working as a member of the press he claims he was beaten and tortured in detention and is now facing charges of assaulting a police office. The prosecutor’s offices have lost the records of the night after Mehmet tried to bring a case against those who beat him. Human Rights Watch has taken up his case.

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Bookshelves lay empty in the ETHA news agency offices after the books where taken as evidence in a dawn raid by police. The police have accused ETHA of owning terrorist material even if all the books can be freely brought and are legal in Turkey.

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A screen grab from You Tube shows the moment Mehmet Ali was arrested whilst covering protests in the Kadikoy neighbourhood of Istanbul. His press card and camera are clearly visible. Although working as a member of the press he claims he was beaten and tortured in detention and is now facing charges of assaulting a police officer. The prosecutor’s office has lost the records of the night after Mehmet tried to bring a case against the officers who detained him. Human Rights Watch has taken up his case.

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Ismail Saymez is a Turkish investigative journalist for the newspaper Radikal one of the countries largest broadsheets. Saymaz is one of a number of journalists charged in relation to reporting on the Ergenekon trials for "violating the secrecy of an investigation". In late 2010 he was involved in 12 legal cases carrying a total prison term of 97 years, beginning with five stories printed in early 2010, each with a potential sentence of nine years. He was found not guilty or the charges where dropped in all the cases. He has recently found out the prosecutors are working on new charges to bring against him.

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Gezi Park and Taksim Square seen from the top of the Mamara hotel. The square and the park that lays in it became infamous world wide in the summer of 2013 as the focal point of the Gezi Park movement. 1000’s of Turks went to the streets to vent and peacefully protest there un happiness with the Turkish Government headed by Prime Minister Erdogan.

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A screen grab from You Tube shows Police after clearing Gezi Park of protestors. An Amnesty international report has accused the Turkish Government & Police of oppressing the right to protest and the right to free speech by using excessive sustained police brutality as well as deliberately targeting journalists reporting on the protests.

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Ahmet Sik a Turkish investigative journalist and lecturer at Istanbuls Biglici University is author of several books and a trade unionist. His book The Imam's Army led to his detention for a year in 2011-2012, the book seized and banned by the authorities before it was published. He remains under indictment in the Odatv case inthe Ergenekon trials. On 30 July 2012 an Istanbul court accepted a new indictment against Sik, the prosecutor is seeking a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment. These are based on a declaration Sik gave to the press immediately upon his release from Silivri prison, in which he stated, "The police, prosecutors and judges who plotted and executed this conspiracy will enter this prison."

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Ahmet Sik holds the helmet he was wearing when he was shot at point blank range with a tear gas canister as he worked as a photographer at the Gezi Park protests. He was shot three times whilst working at the protests, twice with tear gas and once with a rubber bullet or baton round. He believes he was deliberately targeted due to his high profile as a journalist in the country.

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Young Turks take photo’s of each other next to Riot Police on the main shopping area of Istikal St. There is a heavy police presence in all areas of the city after the riots creating a oppressive atmosphere.

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Gökhan Biçici works as a journalist at the IMC news network where he presents a popular daily news show. He rose to fame after a video of him went viral of him being arrested and beaten whilst covering the Gezi park protests in the summer of 2013. This has led him to become a focal point of alternative Turkish media.

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A screen grab showing Gökhan Biçici being beaten whilst he shouts that he is a journalist on a street near Gezi Park shortly before he was detained. He openly admits fearing for his life as his uncle was murdered working as a journalist in the east of the country in the 1980’s.

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Prime minister Erdogan on the back pages of mainstream newspapers in Turkey.

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The Saturday Mothers perform a silent protest on Istikal St requesting the government to return the bones of many men who disappeared in the east of the country in between the 70's and 90's. Prior to Turkeys bid to join the EU in 2000 many people who opposed or questioned the government simply disappeared.

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Tugce Tatari has worked as a columnist and TV reporter for the Turkish mainstream pro government media for the last eight years. She covered the Gezi Park protests for the Pro Government Aksim newspaper. She and 22 colleagues where fired after the protests for openly criticising the Government and the Polices actions in articles printed during and after the protests. She has recently found out that prosecutors are seeking charges against her for in sighting the riots; this will almost certainly carry the risk of a custodial sentence.

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A brand new children’s playground sits in Gezi Park. The authorities have been quick to return the park to its old standards after violence swept through the park when Police attempted to remove protesters from the park. Locals say this is to stop the park becoming the focus of anti government feelings again.

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Children play in the predominantly secular area of Beyoglu many of the protestors at Gezi came from middle class secular areas such as these.

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A screen grab from You Tube shows Police after clearing Gezi Park of protestors. An Amnesty international report has accused the Turkish Government & Police of oppressing the right to protest and the right to free speech by using excessive sustained police brutality as well as deliberately targeting journalists reporting on the protests.

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Nadiye Guher of Ozgur (Freedom radio) She is restricted to living in Istanbul due to her bail restrictions. This has led to a separation from her family and young daughter who live in the east of the country. She is facing 12 years in prison after being labeled a terrorist by the government for her political stance and coverage of events in the east of the country. She has been waiting over six years for her trial, all the while living under the stigma of being labeled a terrorist.

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Screen grab of Ahmet Sik arriving at Hospital after being hit by a rubber bullet round whilst covering the Gezi Park protests.