Int’l associations condemn police attack on journalists during Suruç protests

Photos: Twitter (Erdem Şahin, Fatoş Erdoğan)

The International Press Institute (IPI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday condemned Turkish police violence in İstanbul and İzmir against journalists covering demonstrations commemorating the victims of the 2015 Suruç bombing.

“Turkish authorities must clamp down on police abuses of journalists covering protests; officers are far too willing to harass, obstruct, and fire tear gas and rubber bullets at members of the press,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Authorities must hold officers who have used unnecessary force to account, and ensure that journalists can work safely.”

In a video uploaded to Twitter by Eylem Nazlıer, a reporter at the local Evrensel daily, police can be seen firing tear gas and rubber bullets at Nazlıer and other journalists as they order members of the press to leave the area.

Freelance journalist Emre Orman tweeted a video showing police throwing a journalist to the ground, and officers are seen hitting several journalists with their shields. In that tweet, Orman wrote that an officer punched him during the scuffle and then uploaded another video showing that punch. After the incident, Orman posted photos of welts and bruises on his face, hand, arm and leg.

Meral Danyıldız, a reporter for the BirGün daily, tweeted that the journalist thrown to the ground in Orman’s video was Fatoş Erdoğan, a reporter for the online Dokuz8haber outlet. Danyıldız also wrote that an officer had grabbed her while she was covering the clashes.

Erdoğan posted images on Twitter showing wounds to her wrist and hand.

Police also fired rubber bullets that hit Agence France-Presse photographer Yasin Akgül, according to tweets by OrmanErdoğan and other journalists at the scene, and Erdem Şahin, a photojournalist for the European Pressphoto Agency, also tweeted that he had been shot by rubber bullets alongside the other reporters.

“The number of cases where Turkish police use excessive force and violence against journalists has significantly increased over the last months. Journalists are responsible to provide the public with objective news, and any attempt to prevent them from covering public events is a clear violation of public’s right to access information,” IPI Turkey Program Coordinator Renan Akyavaş said.

“Turkish authorities must take all necessary measures to protect and ensure journalists’ safety while working. The use of excessive force by the police against people who are exercising their fundamental rights such as right to protest and press freedom cannot be met with impunity.”

Turkish journalists are often targeted and jailed for their journalistic activities. Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and ranked 153rd among 180 countries in terms of press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 173 journalists are behind bars in Turkey and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!