Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turkey: Kurdish newspaper distributor gunned down in southeastern Turkey


His death follows a week of violent rioting sparked by fighting in a Kurdish city near the Syrian border
This article was originally published on on 14 October 2014.

Türkçe /Read in Turkish
Reporters Without Borders condemns media worker Kadri Bagdu's murder today while distributing the Kurdish dailies Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem in Seyhan, in the southeastern province of Adana. His targeted killing harks back to the darkest hours of Turkey's recent history.

Bagdu, 46, was distributing the newspapers free of charge on the street in the Sakir Pasa district of Seyhan when he was shot five times by two individuals on a motorcycle who then sped away. One of the shots hit him in the head. He succumbed to his injuries several hours later.

Employed by the Firat media company, Bagdu had been doing the job for 17 years. The news of his death came as Reporters Without Borders' Turkey representative, Erol Önderoglu, was on the phone with Firat representative Hediye Özbay. It was preceded by a week of the most violent rioting Turkey has seen in 30 years.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Kadri Bagdu's colleagues and family,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“A full and impartial investigation must be carried out in order to quickly identify the gunmen and anyone who gave them their orders. We urge the authorities and all other parties involved to curb the mounting tension and prevent this targeting murder from leading to a new spiral of violence.”

The possibly imminent fall of Kobane, Syria's third largest Kurdish city, has electrified Turkey and is jeopardizing the peace process between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and the PKK armed rebels. Demonstrations by Kurds, Islamists and nationalists in Turkey have led to clashes in which more than 35 people have died since 7 October.

Some 20 Kurdish journalists were murdered during the 1990s, at the height of the clashes between the PKK and the Turkish army. Almost all of these murders are still unpunished. The start of peace talks between the government and PKK in March 2013 raised hopes of an end to a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people since 1984.

Reporters Without Borders' Turkey representative will take part in a news conference being organized by Kurdish media at noon tomorrow outside Özgür Gündem's office in Istanbul to protest against Bagdu's murder.