Women's news agency in southeast Turkey target of gov't 'war on terror'

A groundbreaking women’s news agency based in Turkey’s Kurdish majority southeast is facing an uncertain future as it continues to be targeted by Ankara over alleged links to terrorism, French news outlet RFI said on Tuesday.

Working under the slogan "With a women's pen in the pursuit of truth,’’ the fully female staffed JinNews is putting up a battle against the discourse of male state violence, it said.

But the agency’s reports on alleged human rights abuses by security forces, particularly against women, from the region, which for decades has been embroiled in a conflict between a Kurdish insurgency and the Turkish state, leaves JinNews vulnerable to crackdowns.

"Almost 20 of our colleagues had been in and out of prison. We couldn't count the number of raids," the agency’s Turkish news editor Gülşen Koçuk told RFI. "It is not hard to see what's at stake in Turkey for a journalist using her pen freely."

Is not only Jin's reporting of contentious subjects alone that make the agency a target, according to Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Senior Turkey researcher with Human Rights Watch.

"They are not treated as journalists. They are treated as terrorists, and this is the problem. The government doesn't understand there is a right to do objective journalism in the region,’’ Sinclair-Webb said.

Turkey’s southeast is a stronghold for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), accused by Ankara of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Turkish government has pursued a years-long crackdown on the party and its supporters.

But JinNews is determined to stand its ground. 

"Fear doesn't even enter our minds," Kocuk said. "We are not afraid, and we keep writing."