Coming at a few days’ interval, the arrest of French journalist Loup Bureau and the heavy sentences handed down to two Czech nationals, Markéta Všelichová and Miroslav Farkas, also arrested at the checkpoint between Turkey, Irak and Syria in November 2016, bring more light to the Turkish regime’s intentions.
If these arrests share a common background with those of the other 160 journalists jailed in Turkey, and the closing down and ban placed on close to 200 media outlets, they also represent an offensive directly linked to Erdoğan’s will to place the YPG/YPJ in a top spot on “international terrorism” lists that have quasi “judiciary” standing in indictments and sentencing…
The indictments will then be modulated as “propaganda for”, “collaboration with” or “belonging to”.
Thus, according to the Turkish press agency Anadolu (the master’s voice in Turkey, yet often considered on the same footing as AFP) the two Czech nationals “were organizating anti-Turkish propaganda in Europe, as confirmed by their different trips to Syria and Irak”. As corroboration: the use of Google who is not the best of friends in such a case, since posted on it are “images” that will serve to demonstrate your “terrorist collaboration”.
Journalism becomes a crime by percolation.
To avoid such a treatment, one would have to be a “member of the special forces” of the coalition, the only ones authorized contact with Kurdish forces, or to be “embedded” with the former, as the master’s voice for said coalition.
“We have not received any information from Turkey yet. But if I rely on reports in the Turkish media, the two Czech terrorists were fighters with the YPG which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist organization (PKK : Workers Party of Kurdistan). I have no idea how long the judiciary process will last. What I do know is that many terrorists have been arrested in Turkey so the procedure may take a certain time.”
Thus spoke Ahmet Necati Bigali, the Turkish ambassador to the Czech Republic in November 2016. Note that he reads “his” media prior to commenting…
In the specific instance of these two Czech activists, Markéta Všelichová et Miroslav Farkas, sentenced these past few days, no distinction was drawn between assistance, transmission of information on the Rojava struggle, material aid or intelligence… Their involvement was their mission as “citizens of the world” and performed according to needs, and their areas of expertise.
Of course, the judiciary battle has required, and will go on requiring the need to exploit “proof” and “defences”.
The lawyers who put forth Markéta Všelichová’s words in an interview on Czech radio last spring will come up against a Turkish injustice that uses this kind of international anti-terrorist jurisprudence to advance a YPG/YPJ quarantine and, tomorrow the communalist political organs of the Northern Syrian Democratic Confederation. In the interview she “did not hide the fact her repeated trips to the region were done in order to aid the Kurds, but she had also said that she and Miroslav Farkas, the other Czech national arrested with her were not going into the region to supply weapons to the Kurdish militia.”
After 8 months awaiting trial in jail, the sentences have just been handed down : 6 year and three months imprisonment for both of them.
When they were arrested in the first half of November 2016, the two Czechs were attempting to enter Turkey from Syria in the province of Şırnak, located in the South-east of Turkey, at the limitas of Iraki territory.
We must also note that they were more or less “handed over” to the Turkish authorities in 2016 by the Iraki Kurdish authorities… Any “journalist” or activist who has attempted travel from Rojava to Turkey via Iraki Kurdistan, also knows that authorities in Erbil lean toward zeal when it comes to anti-terrorism…
And it is precisely in the same sector that Loup Bureau was arrested.
This almost-unavoidable crossing point is under close surveillance by the Turkish regime’s forces. And those arrested there undoubtedly have files already if they have made public their “activity” and their “support”. In this area, Google, Twitter and Facebook are fearsome enemies, even worse than affiliation to a media, when these indispensable tools are turned against the journalist or activist…
But, should they not have heeded French diplomacy “recommandations” that state so clearly that “The immediate vicinities of the borders with Syria and Irak are strictly advised against…South and Southeastern departments are unadvisable except for imperative needs because of the conflict in Syria, and clashes between the Turkish security forces and PKK fighters may cause collateral damages.” (sic)
Thus, Loup Bureau would have failed to observed posted courtesy rules so that he now finds himself, after one week in custody, charged with “participation in a terrorist group” and also incarcerated awaiting “trial”. His 2013 reportage for TV5 Monde served as “evidence” for the indictment.
“Loup Bureau is indicted. He is formally designated by Turkish authorities proceeding to mass jailinsg of journalists who wish to speak independently of the war Turkey is waging on the Syrian border”, says Me Pradel, the French lawyer who has given mandate to a local colleague in Turkey. A new hearing should be held in the upcoming days. (source : Le Monde).
A further step has been taken, already we are no longer in the same logic as in previous cases, such as that of Olivier Bertrand, cofounder of the website Les Jours, in 2016, or that of Mathias Depardon, arrested then expelled one month later because he was working without a Turkish press card.
Here the Turkish regime’s political will is fed by a feverish surge against Rojava, as confirmed by the recent attempts at penetrating the territory around Kobanê. Moreover, Loup Bureau isn’t a spokesman for “lasting objectivity”… And this is why we are linking in this same article the case against the Czech activists and that against Loup Bureau.
We don’t do so in order to make matters worse, nor in order to create dubious connections, or to alarm his supporters who are certainly just as aware as we are of the fact the stakes are much more political than judiciary. It’s a question of keeping our eyes wide open.
Let’s set aside for now the “diplomatic negotiations” underway and support his legal defence. But in order to defend him, the “profession” will have to go further and not be mealy-mouthed concerning a colleague who will not appear objective to some, and who may be a victim of his subjectivity. This is why it is sometimes mentioned that he is “freelance” which in coded language means he follows his own rules. For our part, we prefer to consider he does not have to answer to a “poltically correct” editorial board.
It is impossible to support and defend journalists against the policies of Erdoğan’s regime and those he’s conducting in Syria without breaking with conventional anti-terrorism vocabulary concerning Kurdish fighters, exposing one’s self to the regime’s fury, and stepping on diplomatic toes…
Defending Loup Bureau, with all forms and democratic expressions must be on every journalist’s agenda in the coming weeks.
And perhaps in this movement, realization will grow that the campaign for Zehra Doğan stems from the same demands to free Loup Bureau or Ahmet Şık and Deniz Yücel . It will also allow to take the measure of the Turkish political regime’s unsuitability as the partner European politicians keep putting forth for a “lasting peace”.
In french : Loup Bureau • Le contexte politique de son arrestation
Reportage by Loup Bureau shown on TV5 in 2013.
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