When Turkish authorities seized control of the daily newspaper “Zaman,” some journalists were fired or resigned themselves. One of them is Sevgi Akarcesme, who left her home and fled to Brussels with a one-way ticket.
Turkish authorities on March 4 seized control of the critical daily newspaper “Zaman,” which has links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accusing the paper of aiding terrorist groups.
The mass-circulation opposition newspaper has since reopened under heavy police guard, with the editors-in-chief removed from their posts or leaving voluntarily.
Among them is the now Brussels-based Sevgi Akarcesme, who fled her country with one suitcase and a vague future. Until March 6, she served as the editor-in-chief of “Today’s Zaman,” the English edition of the Turkish top-selling daily. Now, she’s not entirely sure what tomorrow will bring.
“It wasn’t the first time our newspaper had been raided, but it was definitely the most brutal raid,” she told DW. “And this media witch hunt is not limited to our newspaper alone.”
According to Akarcesme, “everyone who dares to criticize the government is somehow accused, detained, intimidated or imprisoned. So why should I take such a risk when I can speak my mind freely here?”
French and German leaders are due to meet in Berlin to discuss ways of tackling the latest wave of refugees entering Europe. The influx of people seeking asylum is the largest in 50 years.
France’s President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to meet in Berlin on Monday to discuss strategies to tackle the ongoing refugee crisis, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
The French government also said the two leaders would try to provide a fresh stimulus to the European Union’s (EU) response to dealing with the thousands of migrants reaching Europe’s shores. About 107,000 refugees arrived in Europe last month, triggering fears that the bloc would not be able to cope with the crisis.
Merkel and Hollande were planning to discuss “harmonizing” strategies on asylum policies and thinking of a “complete European policy” to deal with asylum seekers, news agency AFP reported a government official as saying.
The two leaders would also prioritize compiling a list of countries, nationals of which would not be granted asylum in Europe. There were also plans to set up reception centers in Greece and Italy to help identify illegal migrants and asylum seekers.
Police estimated that more than 21,000 people marched through the Russian capital on Sunday to mourn Boris Nemtsov, shot dead on Moscow’s streets late on Friday. A volunteer group charged with monitoring turnout, meanwhile, claimed that more than 50,000 had passed through metal detectors before the march.
“Vladimir Putin must resign,” the crowd chanted as it edged along the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge, the site of the shooting, next to the Kremlin. Many held flowers, waved Russian flags, or held pictures of the opposition politician and former deputy prime minister.
Some carried large banners of Nemtsov’s face reading “Heroes Never Die,” the same slogan used in Ukraine to honor more than 100 people killed in the public protests that toppled the former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Nemtsov had been critical of Russia’s stance in the Ukraine conflict.
The former deputy prime minister, a sharp critic of President Putin since he took power in 2000, is the highest-profile politician to be assassinated in post-Soviet Russia. Amnesty International on Sunday called for the killing to be “meaningfully investigated.”
It looks as if Kobani, in northern Iraq, is about to fall into the hands of the “Islamic State.” The fighting around the Kurdish city resembles sieges and ensuing urban warfare in recent history.
Every day, the Kurdish news agency Firatnews brings more reports of the fighting over Kobani. On Friday morning, the news from the front was brief: the “Islamic State” militia had increased its attacks on the east and the south of the city. The Kurdish YPG fighters had already repelled seven waves. Two days earlier, 24 of the attackers had been killed in fighting at a farm, but only “four of our vanguard comrades had lost their lives,” according to Firatnews.
The agency is based in Amsterdam, and western intelligence agencies are suspicious of it because they consider it too close to the PKK, the leftist group still considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. For that reason, Firatnews reports are mistrusted. Yet at the same time, it’s difficult to ignore such sources in arriving at a good image of the fighting. There are no more independent journalists in Kobani – Western news services depend on Internet sources and the air reconnaissance reports, especially from the US Air Force.
On point, however, the Firatnews reports appear to be accurate: IS fighters seem to be suffering bigger casualties than the Kurds. That is inevitably the case in siege situations – defenders, no matter how poorly equipped or trained they are, always have significant tactical advantages over their attackers. They know the terrain, they can use cellars and hiding places to mount ambushes. A ruined building often offers more cover than an intact one, and it takes little work to turn ruins into barricades.