LETTERS: Journalists in the line of fire

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The Independent Online
From Dr Paul Mansour Sir: Jonathan Eyal quotes shocking statistics for the deaths of journalists in Algeria and Rwanda last year. Although, thankfully, the numbers of deaths do not compare, if serious injury, imprisonment, torture and "disappearance" areincluded, one of the most dangerous countries in which to work for a newspaper is Turkey.

Since 1993, at least 13 employees of the Kurdish-owned newspapers Ozgur Gundem and (following its closure by the government) its successor, Ozgur lke, have been murdered or "disappeared" in circumstances strongly suggestive of security force involvement, and scores (at least 50 in 1994) of their editors, journalists and other staff have been imprisoned and tortured. On 3 December 1994 the premises of Ozgur lke in Ankara and Istanbul were bombed, with one death and four serious injuries.

These have been the only Turkish papers consistently to report human rights violations from the predominantly Kurdish south-east, where the government is pursuing a policy of "total conflict" against guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). The brunt of the conflict has been borne by civilians: extra-judicial execution, torture, "disappearance", village destruction and imprisonment for expressing peaceful opinions have become daily events, and any journalists brave enough to say so become targetsthemselves.

Yours faithfully, PAUL MANSOUR Turkey Co-ordinator Amnesty International British Section London, EC1

4 January