People wave Turkish flags as they take part in an anti coup rally at Taksim square in Istanbul, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Turkey's polarized factions should learn from their mistakes and overcome their antagonism, the main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said during an interview with The Associated Press. (AP/Beta).

Journalists condemn Turkey’s request to punish Kosovo journalist over coup comments

Kosovo journalists demand the dismissal of the Turkish Ambassador after her request for legal action against a local journalist who is critical of the Turkish President Erdogan.

On Tuesday, the Kosovo Journalist Association, AGK, rallied in support of Berat Buzhala, a Kosovo journalist and editor of Gazeta Express who criticized Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media and expressed support for the failed coup d’etat in Turkey.

“I invite the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo who are holidaying in Turkey to align with the army :P,” wrote Buzhala on July 15, while a coup attempt was happening in Turkey.

In the following days Buzhala made other comments on Turkey as well, calling Erdogan “a thief” and criticizing the curtailed freedom of press in Turkey.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the Turkish Embassy in Prishtina sent a note to Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs  requesting that it take legal action against the journalist.

“[The ministry should] ensure that necessary steps will be taken against this person in accordance with the law,” the note said, according to Reuters.

According to the note, the embassy ‘reminded’ the ministry that the Kosovo law stipulates that the comments of Berat Buzhala, who is followed by 40,000 people online, could put him in jail from six months to five years. Reuters claims that the note referred to the law prohibiting citizens joining armed conflicts outside the country.

On July 26, the Association of journalists demanded an apology from the Turkish Ambassador in Prishtina Kivilcim Kilic  and her dismissal.

“We consider the Turkish Embassy’s request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take action against said journalist to be a major violation,” the Association’s reaction said.

“We demand an apology from the Turkish Embassy in Prishtina for this scandalous act as soon as possible, and we also demand the dismissal of Turkish ambassador to Kosovo, Kivilcim Kilic. An ambassador that calls for the arrest and punishment of journalists is unacceptable for our community,” the response concluded.

Buzhala said that all of his Facebook statuses were of satirical nature and that he does not expect from the request to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, Buzhala does not eliminate the possibility of a prosecutor building a case against him.

“I fear that a prosecutor might file a case against me, we have seen prosecutors that are in favor of instating Sharia Law,” Buzhala said.

Buzhala is surprised that a large country like Turkey would even consider his Facebook statuses. He suspects Kilic’s actions intended to express her loyalty to President Erdogan, after the latter dismissed two ambassadors and dozens of diplomatic staff.

After the failed coup attempt on July 15, the Turkish president declared a state of emergency for the next three months and has suspended the European Convention on Human Rights. More than 10,000 people have been detained after the coup attempt, while Amnesty International reported that many of the detainees were tortured and raped.

27/07/2016 - 12:27

27 July 2016 - 12:27

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.