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Kurdish journalists appeal for international solidarity in the face of oppression

KURDISH journalists called for international solidarity today after being targeted by state security services for exposing the alleged rape of a woman by Turkish soldiers.

Reporters from the Yeni Yasam newspaper in the largely Kurdish city of Dersim were threatened over the weekend after they released an exposé on the alleged rape of a local woman by three Turkish army officers.

A number of journalists face jail and editor Osman Akin is already facing charges for criticising Operation Peace Spring — Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria which started in October last year.

The paper also included articles on the disappearance of Dersim University student Gulistan Doku, who has been missing for more than two weeks, and on plans to introduce a controversial law that will allow rapists to escape justice if they marry their victims.

Mesopotamia Women Journalists Platform spokeswoman Ayse Guney, who is editor of the all-female Jin News media platform, explained that the news has alerted women’s organisations, political parties, NGOs and journalists to what is happening in Dersim.

She told the Morning Star that “rape is state policy in Kurdish cities” and said it was obvious that the main purpose of the threats against the journalists was to protect Turkish army officials and “prevent this policy from being exposed.”

“The Kurdish press and women’s agency I work with were targeted because of the news,” Ms Guney said. “Four press institutions I worked with have been closed, our websites are blocked and a lawsuit was filed against our stories.

“It is now very difficult to live in Turkey. It is even more difficult to be a female journalist. We are faced with a lot of verbal and physical harassment, threats of rape, arrest and detention by the police during news reporting.”

It is important to keep the spotlight on women’s issues, Ms Guney explained, describing sexual equality as “the oldest problem of civilisation.”

“We have to ensure equality, defend our rights and fight for our freedom because women’s history is an unwritten history. In revealing this, it is important to write about women and make women’s voices heard,” she said.

Ms Guney appealed for international solidarity, urging people to pressure their own governments, to be bold and to share each other’s stories.

“We want our voice to be heard all over the world,” she said.

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