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JOURNALIST unions have demanded the immediate release of Mesopotamia Agency (MA) reporters detained in Turkey as attacks in Kurdish areas intensified today.
Five journalists remained behind bars after being taken into custody while reporting on the protests in Diyarbakir and Mardin in Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east, with fears authorities would extend their detention period.
MA journalists Ahmet Kanbal, Mehmet Sah Oruc, Nurcan Yalcin, Halime Parlak and Jinnews reporter Rojda Aydin were still being held at a branch of the Provincial Security Directorate in Mardin as the Morning Star went to press.
Lawyers said they had been subjected to strip searches and interrogation. It is believed that the authorities sought to expand their investigations to include previous journalistic work which would be used as evidence against them.
They are being quizzed over allegations of terrorism, the catch-all term used for all forms of dissent in Turkey.
Bullish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an offensive in the early hours of Monday morning, ordering the detention and removal from post of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors in Van, Mardin and Diyarbakir Provinces.
Security services have moved violently to crush protests against what has has been branded as a “political coup against the will of the people.”
At least 500 people including politicians, HDP activists, journalists and MPs have been detained and many more hospitalised.
Water cannon and tear gas have been used on those opposing the removal of officials in Kurdish cities with scores of detentions in Diyarbakir, Van and Dersim.
In Istanbul HDP MP and journalist Ahmet Shik was among those injured during a protest outside a central court on Tuesday.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet condemned the latest attacks on the MA, whose journalists are consistently at the front line.
“The NUJ is deeply concerned about reports of further attacks by the Turkish authorities on six more members of the Mesopotamia Agency staff.
“This is a flagrant abuse of their rights as members of the press. We fear for their wellbeing and say they must be set free immediately,” she said.
Attacks intensified today with one Turkish soldier killed in armed clashes in Silopi close to the Iraqi and Syrian borders.
Fierce fighting took place in the Lice district of Diyarbakir as military operations escalated in the Kurdish region.
HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli will be in Van later tomorrow after his visits to Diyarbakir and Mardin. The party is calling for people to join a rally in the city at 2pm.
People have been urged to resist the attacks with the Kurdistan Communities Union warning of a “genocide” against the Kurds.
Speaking in Diyarbakir HDP MP Leyla Guven, who led hunger strike action in Turkish prisons earlier this year, said: “The Kurdish people are standing up against this coup — there is resistance everywhere.”
She will urge everyone in Turkey to support their struggle, warning that it is the Kurds but “tomorrow it could be you.”
“Whatever we have achieved, we have done so through resistance. Like in all four parts of Kurdistan. We must unite in all four parts under the lead of our people and resist. I am calling on everyone,” Ms Guven said.
In a message of hope she said: “The beautiful days of tomorrow are ours, and they rely on our resistance here. We expect the biggest support from the peoples of Turkey.. … We can get over these hurdles together.”
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