By Mehmet Tosun
ANKARA (AA) - In Turkey, Jan. 10 have a special meaning for journalists who work in all conditions to ensure freedom of information.
In Jan. 10, 1961, Law No. 212, regulating the rights of journalists including the legal guarantees, was published in the Official Gazette, and the date became a milestone for journalism in the country.
Some journalists who worked to provide freedom of information were either injured or died while they were on duty.
Jan. 10 is celebrated as "Working Journalists' Day" for the journalists who work day and night in all conditions at the cost of their lives to provide freedom of information.
Some media bosses reacted to the law that gives social rights to journalists, including written employment contracts, the requirement of job descriptions, and wages in contracts.
Nine newspaper owners who did not want to accept the responsibilities imposed on them by laws signed a joint statement, claiming that Law No. 212 and Law No. 195 would create professional disadvantages. And the executives announced they stopped printing their newspapers for three days.
Journalists then decided to publish a newspaper, named "Press", throughout the boycott.
Following these developments, the date of Jan. 10 was celebrated as "Working Journalists' Festival" until 1971, and later named as "Working Journalists' Day".
Jan. 10 is not only a date celebrated to dignify journalists, but also a memorial day to commemorate the journalists who lost their lives while they were on duty.
- Death of Anadolu Agency journalist Abdulkadir Nisanci
Some journalists, working in the most dangerous areas or in the shadows of bullets and bombs, face the risk of getting injured or even dying.
On May 10, 2019, Anadolu Agency photojournalist Abdulkadir Nisanci was on a mission at Mt. Soganli, located between northeastern Bayburt and Trabzon provinces, when he fell off a cliff. Nisanci slipped when a mass of snow he stepped on broke loose.
He was following the road opening works carried out on the Derebasi road bends selected as the most dangerous road in the world.
His body was at found in a stream 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away from the cliff he fell off 14 days later.
During search and rescue activities, two Turkish soldiers were martyred.
- Commemorating journalists who died in Syria
Anadolu Agency photojournalist Sinan Gul was in northwestern Syrian province of Aleppo in 2012, when he was wounded by a sniper shooting during the clashes. The bullet hit his foot, but he recovered.
Anadolu Agency journalist Saleh Mahmoud Laila died when a shell hit their car as they travelled to Aleppo's Muyesir district.
Saleh Mahmoud Laila, who was killed in a suicide car bomb attack by Daesh/ISIS, north of Aleppo on Oct. 8, 2015.
Syrian journalist Vesim el Adil, who had made several contributions to Anadolu Agency, was killed in Russian airstrikes in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib on Sept. 23, 2015.
Adil, 28, was struck by pieces of shrapnel during a Russian airstrike in Idlib's town of Binin.
Anadolu Agency’s Syrian freelancer Majid Dirani was was got hit by shrapnel pieces from Bashar al-Assad regime tanks in Daraya, a suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus, on Feb. 19, 2016.
Dirani, 21, was trying to take pictures of mortar shelling and scouting planes flying over the area at the time he was killed.
- Commemorating injured journalists
On Oct. 11, 2019, YPG/PKK terrorists attacked a building where Anadolu Agency journalists were present in the Nusaybin district of southeastern Mardin province, with two reporters slightly wounded.
Two journalists, Omer Yasin Ergin and Ahmet Kaplan were slightly wounded due to shards of glass hit by the bullets. They were covering Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring launched in northern Syria.
The terrorists targeted the building with long-range weapons from YPG/PKK occupied areas across the Syrian border.
On Dec. 5, 2019, Anadolu Agency photojournalist Mustafa Yalcin was wounded when a projectile fired by police exploded near him, breaking the glass of his helmet and leaving his left eye severely injured.
Sarp Ozer, a senior journalist affiliated with Anadolu Agency, has been injured in a cross-border attack by PYD/PKK terror group while he was covering Turkey’s ongoing operation in Syria’s Afrin region.
Ozer got his hand and leg injured when PYD/PKK’s rocket and mortar attack targeted a nearby area, where he was present.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border into northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terrorist corridor there: Operations Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
The operation was paused following two agreements with the U.S. and Russia, allowing terrorists to withdraw from the planned terror-free zone.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
On June 22, 2018, Israeli troops shot and injured an Anadolu Agency photojournalist Ali Cadallah, who was covering rallies in Gaza Strip by Israeli troops near the Gaza-Israel security fence.
Cadallah received bullet wound in his left hand and was taken to a hospital.
Since March 30, 2018, when Palestinians began staging mass rallies near the security fence, over 125 demonstrators have been martyred -- and thousands more injured -- by Israeli army gunfire.
Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.
- Journalists killed in terrorist attacks, car accidents
On March 23, 1992, daily Sabah journalist Izzet Kezer departed to southeastern Sirnak province in 1992 to follow the spring festival Newroz, and was killed in PKK's terrorist attack, although he waved a white flag.
On Sept. 20, 1993, daily Milliyet journalist Muzaffer Akkus was killed by terrorists near a police station in Turkey’s eastern Bingol province.
In Aug. 4, 1994, Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet journalist Baris Selcuk, journalist Hande Mumcu and cameraman Salih Peker at local Show TV Channel departed from capital Ankara to follow then-Prime Minister Tansu Ciller’s trip to Black Sea Giresun province.
Driver Haci Ali Er and three journalists died in an accident near central Corum province.
On Sept. 13, 1997, Daily Turkiye journalist Ahsen Cetiner died in a car accident in northwestern Balikesir province on his way to follow then-President Suleyman Demirel.
On July 19, 1997, a group of journalists were following then-Agriculture and Rural Areas Minister Mustafa Tasar on an open-top bus in southeastern Gaziantep province. Six of them hit their heads onto a signboard and got injured. Daily Milliyet journalist Kemal Bagci died on July 22, and local journalist Nuri Karabulut died on May 1, 1998.
On October 2000, a service vehicle carrying a group of journalists had an accident at midnight. Daily Star journalist Ogun Ozdemir lost his life, while local ATV channel journalist Zafer Arslan and driver Muhammet Gozum were injured.
The founder of the Great Unity Party Muhsin Yazicioglu and six others died on March 25, 2009 when a helicopter taking him to a local election rally crashed in a mountain in the southern province of Kahramanmaras.
Among the casualties were Turkey's Ihlas News Agency correspondent Ismail Gunes.
Turkey’s Dogan New Agency correspondents Sebahattin Yilmaz and Cem Emir lost their lives in an earthquake in eastern Van province, when it was struck by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 23, 2011 and extended his helping hand to people both as a doctor and an aid worker.
Yilmaz and Emir's bodies were removed from under the rubble after about 50 hours.
* Writing and contributions by Fahri Aksut and Erdogan Cagatay Zontur from Ankara