dimarts, 20 d’octubre del 2015

A year after the murder of American journalist who denounced the Turkish help to IS

Serena Shim was killed on 19 October 2014 when a heavy vehicle collided with hers. She died on the spot, her cousin was wounded, and the truck later disappeared. This was reported by Iran's "Press TV" channel, for which Shim was working. Serena’s sister, Fatemeh Shin, said the family had received inconsistent reports about the death. “There are so many different stories. The first story was that Serena’s car was hit by a heavy vehicle which proceeded to keep on driving”. He added, as Press TV had said, that Turkey couldn’t find the vehicle nor could they find the driver. “Two days later, surprisingly they [the Turkish authorities] have found the vehicle and the driver and had pictures of the heavy vehicle heading into my sister’s car.” The "suspicious" accident prompted criticism and the governor of the province of Sanliurfa promised a report to clarify the facts. It was never issued.

Serena, born in Michigan, was a dual US and Lebanese national. She was 29 years old when she was killed and a mother of two children, a two-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. Two days before her death she had publicly denounced threats from the Turkish secret services (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MIT). The MIT had accused her of spying during the siege of Kobanê. The Syrian Kurdish city was then under attack by the Islamic State, and Serena Shim denounced the collaboration of Turkish forces with Sunni fundamentalists. Her accusation was clear: She had reported that Islamic State volunteers were arriving at the border between Turkey and Syria in trucks belonging to alleged NGOs and bearing the symbols of the World Food Organisation. Once these trucks reached the border, the Turkish Government then helped them cross into Syria to fight against the Kurdish movement. Two days earlier she had said "I'm scared (…) I’m very surprised I’m even thinking about approaching… As you know Turkey has been labeled by Reporters Without Borders… frightened by what they might use against me," she said in a recording on October 17.

Shim’s case is not an isolated incident in the Republic of Turkey. Recently, for instance, three Western journalist were expelled from the country. Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink was expelled from Turkey last September. Before her, in August, two British Vice News journalists who had been jailed on terror-related charges, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were also expelled. Their assistant, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, a Kurdish journalist from Iraqi Kurdistan remains in jail to this day. On October 18 a British former BBC journalist, Jacqueline Sutton, from The Institute for War and Peace Reporting, was hanged at Istanbul Airport. Turkey reported the death as a suicide. Sudipto Mukerjee, country director with the UN Development Programme, wrote: “Very difficult to believe that my colleague in Iraq, staffer and seasoned traveller Jacky Sutton committed suicide.” Once again, an international and not just a domestic investigation is needed. And once again it will never happen.

It would be great to be able to say that Serena Shim had not died in vain. That her death had served the purpose of changing things. It did not. The only thing that has changed is that, since then, no journalist has dared to denounce the collusion of the Turkish Islamist AKP's government with the Islamist organization Islamic State.

Jordi Vàzquez is an expert on North Africa and the Middle East, and regular contributor to different publications. He is the author of the books The Scottish National Movement and The ignored revolution (collective). His latest book, recently published, is titled Kurdistan: The People of the Sun
He tweets at @JordiVazquez

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