Friday, September 13, 2013

Turkey: At least 12 Turkish journalists attacked by police in two days


Reporters Without Borders condemns the resumption of police violence against journalists that has accompanied a new wave of demonstrations in Turkey's biggest cities in the past few days. At least 12 journalists were injured or attacked by police in the space of two days in Istanbul, Izmir and the capital, Ankara.

“It is unfortunately clear that the police did not learn any lessons from their appalling handling of the 'Occupy Gezi' protests,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Three months later, the police are still resorting to the same disproportionate violence and news providers are still being deliberately targeted although they are just trying to cover what is happening.

“This unacceptable violence has been encouraged by the complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the abuses from May to July. We again call for full and impartial investigations in order to identify and punish the perpetrators of this violence.”

Ali Açar (photo above), a reporter for the daily Cumhuriyet, and Kaan Sagnak, one of its photographers, were among the victims of police violence last night in Istanbul. Cumhuriyet said Sagnak was injured in the arm by a “rubber bullet fired from a distance of two metres.”

Freelance photographer Ufuk Kosar was injured in the left arm (adjoining photo). DHA news agency reporter Ugur Can, Anatolia news agency reporter Bülent Doruk and Agence France-Presse photographer Ozan Kose were also the victims of police violence near Istanbul's Taksim Square.

Independent journalist and photographer Ahmet Sik told Reporters Without Borders that a rubber bullet hit him in the chest as he was trying to cover an arrest on Istiklal Avenue, near Taksim Square. The police drove him and other reporters and cameramen back to prevent them covering what was happening. One policeman aimed his rubber-bullet rifle at Sik while ordering him not to approach (lead photo).

Serdar Akinan, the owner of the Vagus.TV website, reported on Twitter that a policeman with no identification number on his helmet head-butted one of his reporters, Rabia Celik, as she was taking photos last night.

Metehan Ud, a reporter for the left-wing daily Günlük Evrensel, received a beating from policemen in the western city of Izmir. The Association of Turkish Journalists (TGC) has condemned the new wave of violence, recalling that nearly 100 journalists were attacked or detained during the “Occupy Gezi” protests.

On 9 September, two Günlük Evrensel reporters based in Ankara, Hasan Akbas and Birkan Bulut, were beaten by police when they tried to cover a demonstration in Tuzluçayir, a neighbourhood that is part of the district of Mamak. Akbas said the police attacked them after seeing their press cards and after making sure there were no witnesses.

Berna Sahin, a reporter for the left-wing daily Birgün, lost consciousness for several minutes after a stun grenade exploded near her in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Okmeydani on 9 September.

Sahin said it was clear that she was “deliberately” targeted because she was on a street controlled by the police and was clearly identifiable as a journalist, and because no demonstrator was anywhere near her at the time.

Riza Özel, a journalist with the daily Hürriyet, was injured in the leg by a rubber bullet while trying to take cover as police dispersed a demonstration on the Middle East Technical University campus in Ankara on 6 September. He was also hit on the head by a stone thrown by a demonstrator and was hospitalized after losing consciousness.