Bild: Humanistically motivated: Recently, Italian journalist, author, filmmaker and activist Gabriele del Grande was doing research near the Turkish-Syrian border. , Arrest of Italian journalist Gabriele del Grande causes uproar Fotoquelle: Wikimedia Commons, AWI

:bsz international. Italian journalist Gabriele del Grande gets arrested in Turkey on April 10. The Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum (MFH) demands his instant release, referring to all further imprisoned people who are questionably accused for presumably no reason.

It’s an autocracy in progress: After the unsuccessful coup attempt in July 2016, more than a hundred journalists have been arrested, about 150 media institutions have been shut down and more than 700 journalist passes have been annulled. These numbers given by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) are representative for the policy of censorship, shaped by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey. Now this series of censoring is being continued by current affairs. In the morning of April 10 Italian journalist Gabriele del Grande has most certainly been arrested in the Hatay Province in southern Turkey. The famous author and human rights activist went to this region near the Turkish-Syrian border in order to do research for his upcoming book when he was suddenly arrested during a police check. The Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum (MFH) shares these information as the human rights organisation cooperated with del Grande during the past years. With reference to diplomats in Ankara this has been confirmed by the Italian news agency Ansa. The MFH does not have any information concerning the reasons for the arrest at the moment.

One in a hundred

Gabriele del Grande is well known for being co-author and co-director of the semi-documentary „Io sto con la sposa“ (translation: I’m with the bride), which won a special prize at the Venice International Film Festival in 2014. Lately, his work focused on the conflicts in Syria considering the consequences of war locally. He is the first journalist who systematically documented the numbers of thousands of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, recording his research work in his blog „Fortress Europe“. 

The Italian newspaper LaPresse reported that del Grande shall be deported to Italy right away as the Italian government demanded the journalist’s release instantly. The General Secretary of the Italian journalist‘s union FNSI, Raffaele Lorusso, stated, that del Grande’s arrest is another proof of the unsustainable conditions journalists in Turkey are suffering from. “Since July 2016 the Turkish prisons are totally overcrowded with real or alleged oppositionists”, says Christian Cleusters, executive secretary of the MFH. “Especially critical journalists are systematically locked away. The massive attacks on the press and freedom of expression are paving the way for a dictatorship that Turkey is currently covering at high speed.”

What’s next?

The reasons for arresting journalists and oppositionists become more and more absurd and vague. Erdoğan’s measures of repression peak in view of the referendum last Sunday. Even the famous anchorman İrfan Değirmenci has been dismissed from his television broadcaster Kanal D as he confessed to voting „No“ („Hayir“) on Twitter. This development and the fact, that Turks narrowly voted in favour of the constitutional changes, force journalists and public people to self-censorship leaving one quesiton behind: Where is this despotism going?

:Marcus Boxler 


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