Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Turkey: Barricades and tear gas prevent Turkish journalists from covering May Day demonstrations


6 May 2014
IPS Communication Foundation - Bianet 

Turkish authorities banned May Day celebrations in Taksim Square on the claim that they would "influence freedom of travel" and enabled precautions which demolished citizens' right to information and civilians' and tourists' freedom of travel.

In the Taksim district, there were police and gendarmerie barricades everywhere. The circulation and freedom of journalists, photojournalists and photographers were neglected because they didn't have yellow press badges. The movements of tourists were neglected because their entry was "forbidden".

By 4 pm local time on 1 May 2014, 12 journalists were already injured because of gas canisters and plastic bullets used by police. Some journalists were affected by tear gas and chemical water, and some were targeted on purpose.

Only state-approved press badges permitted beyond barricades!

Standing in front of the barricades, police didn't let by many of the tourists who wanted to reach to their hotels in the Cihangir or Firuzağa districts with their luggage.

When journalists attempted to take photographs of İstiklal and Sıraselviler Avenues, the police asked if they had "yellow press cards" – the term for state-approved media credentials in Turkey. When they didn't, police didn't allowed them to pass the barricades. Journalists and police forces had arguments in front of barricades on İstiklal Avenue. Police said they "only" wanted yellow press cards and that they don't discriminate between the people who don't have them.

Police justify themselves with “Kanal 7”

Police justified the ban by showing a Channel 7 (Kanal 7) personnel's identification card to others and saying "Look, I'm not letting him pass". Journalists objected by saying that the yellow press card restriction is unfair and discriminatory, but the police didn't change their minds. These journalists and photographers weren't allowed into Taksim Square.

t24 editor detained

t24 news website night editor Deniz Zerrin was detained while trying to escape the tear gas that police used on Fulya Ortaklar Street, and reach her office in Taksim. Zerrin reportedly argued with the police and was subsequently detained. The editorial director of the website Doğan Akın wanted to talk to the police authorities but police denied to talk to him.

Journalists' Society of Turkey: Dismiss this attitude

The Journalists' Society of Turkey (TGC) condemned police in a statement, saying that police were attacking some members of the press on purpose and preventing them from doing their work.

“Journalists trying to do their job for [the] public to [access] information and learn the truth were once again targeted by the police on May Day. Reporters, photojournalists and cameramen were affected by tear gas and chemical water. Police forces didn't want journalists to work for public welfare and prevented them from being in Taksim,” said the TGC.

TGC wished recovery for all of the journalists and said “Journalists face police attacks with tear gas, chemical water and batons on May Day to prevent the public from seeing what's happening on May Day. We are condemning this attitude and understanding and we would like this attitude dismissed.”

At least 12 journalists were targeted

According to various sources, ETHA reporter Ali Haydar Doğan's arm was broken while he was watching the clashes in Okmeydanı. Barış Yarkadaş was injured in Beşiktaş, while reporting for Halk TV on the clashes between police and the demonstrators in Barbaros. In Şişli, EPA photojournalist Sedat Suna suffered an injury to his leg. Police injured Sol newspaper reporter Elif Örnek's head. Sol newspaper journalist Emin Şentürk was injured by a plastic bullet while he was monitoring the incidents. Duruş News Editorial Director's foot was battered. Police attacked Milliyet newspaper photojournalist Ozan Gücelce, with a gas canister and injured his right hand. Struggle Union Magazine reporter Yusuf Ali Gümüşlü was injured on his arm and Yurt newspaper writer Hakan Gülseren's nose was injured. Journalist Fetullah Şenocak's arm broke in Şişli and he was taken to Haseki Hospital. It was reported that at around 2 pm, police attacked reporter Murat Bay with plastic bullets, and he was wounded. Osman Oral's tibia was injured, but his condition is well.