A press conference was held on Thursday at the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation headquarters in İstanbul about the situation of Turkish cameraman Cüneyt Ünal and Palestinian journalist Bashar Fahmi Kadumi who have been held hostage in Syria for 53 days.
The press conference was attended by Kadumi’s wife Arzu and his children, journalist Hamit Coşkun who was held hostage in Syria earlier this year and IHH Chairman Bülent Yıldırım.
Yıldırım gave information about IHH’s ongoing efforts to ensure the release of Ünal and Kadumi.
Recalling IHH’s efforts for the release of Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Coşkun who had been kept hostage by Syria a few months ago and how they were brought to Turkey, Yıldırım said IHH is involved in humanitarian diplomacy again to ensure Ünal’s and Kadumi’s release.
Yıldırım: Negotiations continue in Damascus
Offering his thanks to the media for their sensitivity about the hostage journalists, Yıldırım said: “Thank you for the sensitivity you showed in the case of Adem and Hamit. We had a big experience altogether back then. Later, two of our brothers Cüneyt and Bashar
were arrested again. We have been following the same policy in the case of Adem and Hamit for also these journalists. We have come to a certain point in negotiations. Why have not we made a statement concerning this issue so far? Because, these are sensitive issues, many things need to be taken into consideration in such issues.”
Noting that negotiations aiming to ensure release of Ünal and Kadumi still continue, Yıldırım added: “Negotiations continue in Damascus for the release of our brothers. A delegation will head to Syria this evening [Thursday]. We would like to announce that no matter which side in Syria kidnaps or detains people, either the Syrian regime or opponents, the IHH is ready to be a means for humanitarian diplomacy. We have a certain level of experience to this effect. Parties accept this at the moment. We think of the captive Palestinian journalist Fahmi Kadumi as a Turkish person. Both the opposition and [Bashar al-] Assad's forces have hostages in their hands. Iran also has some hostages. During these negotiations, we have been contacted by many people. All their requests will be considered during the negotiations. We will do our best for humanitarian diplomacy. We wanted to inform the world about this. Relatives of the hostages or citizens of other countries could want to take part in these efforts. We commissioned our humanitarian diplomacy department to receive requests from those who want to cooperate with us. We are open to help. Journalists are doing their jobs. We have seen many wars. This is the first time we see journalists being attacked so much in a war. We saw the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya. We saw the wars in other places. It has been 53 days [since the journalists were captured]. This is a long time. When we took action for the release of Adem and Hamit, we met with good-intentioned Syrian officials. They helped us. I hope they will help us again. This is an agreement which is made to ensure the release of many people from both sides. Our priority is to ensure the release of these brothers as soon as possible. We will work altogether for this. No matter what our world views or lifestyles are, we have to set common targets in some issues.”
Arzu Kadumi: We just wait for a good news
Kadumi’s wife Arzu said she has been going through a difficult time for 53 days and called on everyone to be sensitive about the issue.
“My children are waiting for their father for 53 days. I answer all the phone calls I receive with trembling hands. It is impossible for me to put what I lived in the past two months into words. The burden on my shoulders is very heavy. I am appealing to all the influential authorities in the world. I am appealing to international organizations and journalism associations. They [the captured journalists] are individuals who try to perform their jobs to earn a living. I am appealing to those who follow us from the TV or newspapers, please pray for us. My husband has been living in Turkey for 20 years. He has Jordanian passport. We have seen support from his colleagues and journalism associations since his capture. I offer my thanks to all of them. We will do our best to ensure the return of Bashar and Cüneyt. We need prayers a lot. I ask for prayers from everyone. I ask the IHH to help us. What we need now is prayers. When I see the drawings of my daughter and letters of my son every day, I am trying to remain calm. But, it is being too much. I ask prayers from everyone. Cüneyt has also a 1,5-year-old daughter. Children are waiting for their fathers at home. The situation is very tragic. This is a very sad story from beginning to the end. I hope it will have a happy ending. I hope these tears will turn into joy. Bashar’s family is waiting for him in al-Quds. I talk to them everyday on the phone. We are waiting for a good news. I have not lost my hopes [about Bashar’s return]. I request everyone to pray that we get good news in the earliest time possible. We need prayers now. I ask all Turkish people to pray for us,” she said.
Hamit Coşkun: We should keep them on the agenda of Facebook and Twitter
Cameraman Coşkun who was kidnapped by Syrian forces along with Adem Özköse and released in May 60-days following their capture, also spoke at the news conference. “The families are really saddened. One minute spent my Bashar and Cüneyt there is like one month or one year for the families here. I can feel this. We need to keep this incident on the agenda of Facebook and Twitter every day,” he said.