Journalist shot two weeks ago in Diyarbakir riots dies

New York, April 17, 2006—Journalist Ilyas Aktas died on April 14 in an Ankara hospital two weeks after he was shot in the head during protests in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, in southeast Turkey, local and international media reported. The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled by the shooting and is still investigating the circumstances surrounding it.

Media reported that at least 13 civilians were killed during the protests which lasted two weeks.

Aktas, 24, a reporter for the left-wing newspaper Devrimci Demokrasi (Revolutionary Democracy), was hit March 30 during clashes between security forces and Kurdish demonstrators. Doctors declared him brain dead.

The protests, which continued into early April, were sparked by the funerals of four Kurdish guerrillas killed in clashes with Turkish forces.

Devrimci Demokrasi
’s owner and editor Erdal Guler told the Turkish press freedom organization Bia that Aktas was in Diyarbakir to cover the protests. He said witnesses saw Aktas being shot during the clashes in which demonstrators threw stones and fire bombs.

However, CPJ is still investigating reports Aktas may have been a participant in the protests.