We, journalists seek the right to information and stand in solidarity with our colleagues in conflict areas.
The violent conflict that re-entered our lives with renewed force following the general elections on 7th of June 2015 costing lives everyday.Through media blackouts and pressure on journalists, the authorities are trying to supress the facts about the conflict.
Our fellow journalists who live and/or work in the conflict areas face immense pressures. They are very often prevented doing their jobs, sometimes having guns pointed to their heads, sometimes having beaten and arrested. At present 30 journalists are in jail in Turkey. More recently a fellow journalist -cameraman for IMC tv station Refik Tekin- came under fire while filming a group of civilians collecting wounded and dead from the streets of Southeastern town, Cizre. He was shot, beaten up by members of security forces while wounded, and declared “a terrorist” by state owned Anatolian Agency. He is still in hospital.
We the journalists based outside the main conflict zone see it as one of our primary responsibilities to be in solidarity with our colleagues working under such pressure. We will not let them stand alone while they risk their lives daily by simply trying to do their job.
Following a formal visit to the conflict area by the representatives of our professional unions/associations, we are launching a “News Watch” initiative in solidarity with our fellow journalists. In groups, we will be taking turns, to go to the conflict areas and work side by side with local colleagues to defend both their right to work freely and safely and the publics’ right to know.
Every week another group of journalists will take over the “News Watch” in restricted areas, and will work hard to bring in much needed reliable news and analysis.
At this moment solidarity is the way to defend journalism and to defend publics’ right to information.
Journalists who wish to take part in the News Watch initiative, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest the dates you could travel.
“NEWS-WATCH” IN 11 QUESTIONS
What are we going to do there?
For showing solidarity with our colleagues in the region, we will go to their media outlets and work with them according to their needs. We can either follow stories in the field or work as an editor in their news room. We can also write stories on the working conditions of our colleagues there. Of course we can write stories about what is going on in the cities, but the important thing is to show solidarity with our colleagues at every opportunity and act in line with this aim.
How do we coordinate with our colleagues in the region?
Press organizations had already visited the region and gave information about our organization. We will coordinate with Free Journalists’ Association and voluntary journalists based there.
How long will our vigil last?
It depends on you. If you like just a day, or a week… We aim to have fellow journalists there at least one or two days of the week.
How many journalists would be at every turn of the watch?
It depends on the number of people joining the watch. We plan to rotate volunteer journalists for one or two months long period. We believe it would be good if at least two journalists could be there every week.
Volunteer journalist should move in groups?
It depends on them. They can move as they please.
Would volunteers only go to Diyarbakır?
No. We aim to go towns like Cizre and Silopi where our colleagues are under enormous pressure.
Where do we publish the stories we write, the pictures and videos we take?
If you join the watch and worked in one of the media outlets in the region, your story can be published there. Or your story can be published in your own media outlet or your blog. If you want we can also publish it in this blog dedicated to the watch.
But in any case, we want to gather all the stories of the watch in this blog. So regardless of where your piece was published, we request you to send it also to us.
We also request…
…you to write a paragraph or two of your own thoughts about your experience. We would like to publish it in the blog too.
What about the expenses?
You have to pay your flight from your own pocket. Our colleagues there say they can host fellow journalists at their homes. However we can suggest affordable hotel names too.
Is this a press tour?
No. It is an act of solidarity, organized by a small group of voluntary journalists with limited resources. So, we will encounter problems. And we invite all our collaborating colleagues to fill the void and act with us. What we do to show our solidarity would be professional journalism.
What about security in the region?
We have a limited number of bulletproof vests and can provide them if you want. We are going to a region under conflict, with very harsh conditions for journalists. Those who want to join shall be aware of this and assume full responsibility for themselves.