20 consecutive years in the free press: Mehmet Ali Ertaş

DİYARBAKIR - Imprisoned Xwebûn Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş has been working as a journalist for 20 years in the free press. His colleague Hakkı Boltan said, "He is the soul of the free press" for Ertaş.
22 people, 20 of whom are journalists, were detained in the operation against Kurdish journalists in Diyarbakır on June 8. 16 of the journalists, whose journalistic activities were considered a crime, were arrested on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organisation" by the court they were referred to after eight days of detention.
One of the imprisoned journalists, Editor-in-Chief of Xwebûn Newspaper Mehmet Ali Ertaş, was held in handcuffs for 10 hours by the police on the day he was detained. Journalist Haki Boltan, his 17-year colleague, spoke about what kind of a person and a journalist Ertaş is.
Ertaş, who has been detained numerous times for his journalistic activities since he started his career at the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) in 2003, was detained and arrested on March 29, 2008 while following a story in Mersin. Having been imprisoned for a while, Ertaş continued his career right after his release. Following the closure of DİHA on October 29, 2016, Ertaş continued his professional life in Dihaber, Mezopotamya Agency, Azadîya Welat newspaper and lastly the weekly Xwebûn newspaper.
Ertaş, who has worked as a reporter, editor and news chief in the news agencies he has worked for, is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Xwebûn.
Ertaş, who has been working as a journalist for 20 years without interruption, has reported important news in the contemporary politics, especially seasonal workers and the stories of displaced Kurdish families. Ertaş, who also struggled for the Kurdish language in all areas he was in, prefers to especially write in Kurdish. Ertaş's sensitivity to speaking and writing in Kurdish also had a serious impact on the of Kurdish press.
Describing journalist Mehmet Ali Ertaş as "a veteran of the free press", Journalist Hakkı Boltan said: "Ertaş is one of the first names that come to mind when talking about the free press today. Ertaş worked sincerely and from the heart. Ertaş understood the principles of the free press well because when you don't understand something, you can't give yourself completely to that work, so his work showed that. In this sense, Ertaş gave himself completely to the free press ."
Stating that Ertaş has been working hard for the development of the Kurdish language as well as journalism, Boltan said: "He leads by example. When we wrote a story about mother tongue and we did something wrong, he couldn't have slept that night. He would call the reporter that wrote the story first thing in the morning, talk to them for hours, explains why he thinks that was a mistake and he wouldn't give up until he was convinced that he was understood. This shows that Mehmet Ali was working for the growth and development of all his colleagues not just for himself. All his efforts was for the development of the free press.
Stating that they define Ertaş as a "model" in the free press, Boltan said, "He is a model for us. Mehmet Ali has written dozens of articles on the development of journalism. Thanks to him, we were able to write better stories. Thanks to him, we loved journalism. He is a very humble person and does not like populism. He is the spirit of the free press. He raised himself with free press and lives with the tradition of the free press.”
Boltan continued to describe Ertaş as follows: “Mehmet Ali used to say, 'I wish eating, drinking and sleeping were not in my life'. He thought these things were a waste of time. We insisted he ate when he got sick. He got angry with us. He said: "Do I not see myself? Don't I know how I am?" We finished our work and went home at night. He continued to work through out the night. He worked like that from the day he started working as a free press employee. He never wronged any one. He never did anything wrong and I can testify that he will never do anything wrong in the future. Because he got his press card and licence as a journalist from the people. We will continue to work with the strength he gave us.
MA / Cengiz Özbasar

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