Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Judge asks journalist Zeynep Durgut: "Have you ever been subjected to male violence?"

Judge asks journalist Zeynep Durgut:

MA reporter Durgut, who was violently detained while covering a press statement on violence against women, and 17 other women appear before the court on the charge of “violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations”




The first hearing in the trial of Mezopotamya new agency (MA) reporter Zeynep Durgut, who was battered and detained while covering a press statement on 25 November 2023, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and 17 other women on the charge of “violating the Law no. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held at the Şırnak Criminal Court of First Instance on 22 March 2024.


The hearing, at which Durgut and her lawyer were present, began with identification. P24 monitored the hearing.


Five women, who delivered their defense statements in Kurdish through an interpreter said, “We did not know about the governor’s office’s ban. We learned about the march on TV and we decided to attend. Because we do not speak Turkish, we did not understand what the police were saying. We did not resist the police but the police assaulted us as though we were. They grabbed us from our arms, beat us with batons and put us on the detention vehicle.”



Zilan Yaman, then Peoples’ Democratic Party (currently DEM Party) Şırnak Province Co-Chair, who also provided a defense statement at the hearing said that they had been encircled while negotiating with the police and they were assaulted when they requested that the police circle be parted. Upon the judge asking, “From what you are saying, this is very unusual. Why would they assault you?” Yaman replied, “They said that there was a decision for a ban. So, we requested that the crowd be allowed to move towards the HDP building and disperse without incident. They accepted this but they said they would only allow us to disperse in smaller groups and not as the whole body. We said that we would not accept this because older women from outlying districts did not know their way and decided to do a five minute-long sit-in within the police circle. Upon this, the police took away our placards and started to assault us.”


Durgut: “Women were subjected to male violence”


Delivering her defense statement, journalist Zeynep Durgut said that 25 November was day on which women around the world, not just in Turkey, publicly demonstrated against violence. Durgut said “But in our case, women were subjected to male violence on such a day” and gave the following account of what had happened: “There were three journalists at the demonstration, including myself. A day before the incident, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) freely carried out a march despite the governor’s office’s ban. But on 25 November, the police tried to confiscate our video cameras despite knowing we were journalists. I have the right to obtain footage as a journalist. Two male officers handcuffed me behind my back. They broke my video camera and my tripod. They then assaulted the demonstrating women and detained them. We were made to wait for hours in the detention vehicle and we were insulted. The public’s right to learn the news was prevented.”


Judge: “Have you ever been subjected to male violence?”


The judge interrupted Durgut’s statement and asked her, “Independently of the case, have you ever been subjected to male violence before?” Upon Durgut pausing, the judge said “Well, I will ask after the hearing” and continued with the hearing.


Going on with her defense, Durgut said, “We were the victims but we came under investigation. A woman’s arm and another one’s finger were broken. I was insulted by police officers in the detention vehicle. As I concentrated on my work, I did not hear the police announcement but even if I had, I would not have left the area because I am a journalist.”


The judge interrupted Durgut while she spoke about the police circle and said, “The police form this circle to protect the people there.” In response, Durgut said, “This circle was formed not to protect but to attack.”


Durgut’s lawyer Samet Ataman criticized the indictment and said “Are we to act according to the hierarchy of norms or the province governor appointed by the government?” Ataman continued his statement by criticizing the bans imposed by the governor’s office and said, “The governor’s office knows very well what and when Kurds will react to, and imposed bans on these dates. Civil servants and students were forcibly taken to the event held on 24 November, which was also a day covered by the ban. The security forces, which assaulted the crowd on 25 November had switched over from protecting the crowd on 24 November.”


Lawyer Ataman submitted the photos of women assaulted by the police to the judge and said, “The women were made to wait in the detention vehicle for hours. When I called the prosecutor on duty as their lawyer, he was upset with me and hung up saying ‘You cannot talk to me.’ The prosecution calls the demonstration ‘illegal.’ That is not the case. Since the same prosecutor who filed the indictment will present the final opinion, it is likely the prosecution will request sentencing. If the criminal complaints I have filed until today had been concluded, these people would not have been in this state today. A balance needs to exist between citizens and public workers. There is no element of crime, no use of force or violence, no danger, and no unlawfulness. How can an 80-year-old be dangerous? It is a shame to have these people come here. We request their acquittal.”


Following statements by lawyers, the prosecutor requested the missing elements in the file to be completed. The judge ruled for those defendants who had not provided a statement to be ordered to provide a statement and adjourned the trial until 27 June 2024.


Background of the case


The press statement that a group of women wanted to read out at the Ömer Kabak Square in Şırnak on 25 November 2023, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was prevented by the police.


The police cited a decision by the governor’s office of Şırnak to ban all meetings, demonstrations, marches, and press statements in the town for seven days between 22-28 November 2023 and detained 21 people, including Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Zeynep Durgut and Ömer Akın as well as JinNews reporter Rozerin Gültekin. While the equipment of detained journalists was broken, the detainees were released from custody the same day after giving their statements.


The Şırnak Chief Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment against journalist Zeynep Durgut and 17 other women who attended the press statement on the charge of “attending illegal meetings and demonstrations unarmed and not dispersing of their own despite warnings.” A decision not to prosecute was issued concerning journalists Ömer Akın and Rozerin Gültekin.


The statements by journalist Durgut and the 17 women that they had been subjected to police violence as they were detained was not included in the indictment. The indictment also claims that the police violence was “proportionate” and does not mention Zeynep Durgut’s statement that she was a journalist.