Director of the widely circulated documentary The Tree of Eternity: The Yirca Resistance, portraying the villagers’ struggle against the expropriation of their land by the State and the Capital, Kazım Kızıl has always turned his lens to the oppressed to capture their struggles. On 17 April 2016, Kazım was detained during a street protest against the rigged constitutional referendum of 16 April, and was arrested 4 days later on charges of insulting the president.

The charges of insulting the president pressed against Kazım are based on his tweets, sent prior to this protest, which points to the possibility of retrospective accusation. Clearly, the real reason behind Kazım’s arrest is to prevent him from documenting and disseminating the images of people’s rightful reaction to the fraudulent referendum results. It is not the documentation, or dissemination of such images that sparks this popular backlash but rather the attempt to install a new regime based on the illegally obtained results of a manifestly manipulated election.

We consider Kazım’s arrest as yet another in a long line of repressive acts by the government against dissident filmmakers, particularly documentarians and journalists. With over 150 journalists imprisoned, each and every foreign journalist accused of espionage, many editors detained from their news offices by police raids, the illegal attacks on journalistic freedom betray the panic state that the totalitarian regime is in to prevent the facts from surfacing.

We do not accept the baseless charges brought against Kazım Kızıl and demand his immediate release. As documentary filmmakers and journalists in Turkey, we hereby declare that we will never surrender to these oppressive policies and illegitimate arrests, and we will continue documenting and disseminating the facts of our country despite the constraints and regardless of the consequences.

Kazım Kızıl is a documentary filmmaker, video-activist, and photographer. With his widely circulated documentary The Tree of Eternity: The Yirca Resistance, he not only made the dissident voices of Yirca villagers heard, but also became an active member of the resistance against the expropriation of land for a thermal power station. He participated in every form of resistance, demonstration, and social movement with his camera – becoming the eyes and ears of all who could not be there. His videos and photographs document the facts in their purest and strongest state. His latest documentary Where Are You Buddy? portrays the working conditions and stories of child farmworkers. To watch his films and videos, please click here.