RWB concerned over aggressive Turkish paper campaign

RWB concerned over aggressive Turkish paper campaign

PanARMENIAN.Net - Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by the aggressive smear campaign that the Islamist and nationalist daily Yeni Akit (New Agreement) and its website, Habervaktim.com, have been waging in recent days against four leading journalists – Ali Bayramoglu, Cengiz Candar, Hasan Cemal and Yasemin Congar – because of their views on Turkey’s Kurdish issue, the organization said on its website.

"By targeting people committed to tolerance and peace, this campaign is trying to block any evolution in Turkish society," Reporters Without Borders said. "Experience has shown the degree to which this kind of prejudiced, xenophobic and paranoid discourse is not just harmful but also dangerous. Words have meaning and the accusations levelled against these journalists expose them to real peril. This virulent hate campaign must stop at once and everything possible must be done to protect its targets."

Yeni Akit has been attacking the well-known columnist Ali Bayramoglu for several weeks, accusing him of being an Armenian who "defends Armenian ideas with a racist basis." A defender of minority rights and friend of Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper editor murdered in 2007, Bayramoglu has been branded by Yeni Akit as a "despicable enemy of the Turks” and as one who "even hides the fact that he is Armenian from his friends."

Alluding to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the newspaper said Bayramoglu’s "support for the terrorist organization" had been demonstrated by his participation in a conference in London entitled "In search of solutions to the Kurdish issue."

The demands of Turkey’s Kurdish minority continue to be one of the most sensitive issues for the Turkish media to cover. The crackdown on peaceful Kurdish activists and Kurdish media has intensified in recent months and the trial of 44 pro-Kurdish journalists, of whom 36 are in preventive detention, is due to open on September 10.

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