Journalists, politicians protest in Berlin after attack on exiled Turkish journalist

Photo: BirGün

Dozens of journalists and politicians protested in Berlin on Friday against a recent attack on Erk Acarer, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government who lives in exile in Germany, Turkish Minute reported.

Three assailants attacked Acarer on Wednesday “with knives and fists” in the courtyard of his apartment building in Berlin, according to his tweets after the incident.

Acarer, a columnist for the Birgün daily, claimed the attack was evidence that confirmed everything he had written and said against the “Islamist and fascist” AKP government and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), since one of the assailants shouted “You will not write” during the attack.

Representatives from Turkey’s SOL (Left) Party, the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) attended the protest, in addition lawmakers from the German Bundestag.

The crowd chanted “Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism” during the protest in which it was claimed that the attack on Acarer in fact targeted people’s right to information, local media reports said.

Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Germany Executive Director Christian Mihr delivered speeches during the protest, which took place in Kreuzberg, one of the most densely Turkish neighborhoods in Berlin.

Mihr emphasized that such attacks occurring in Germany, which should serve as a safe haven for independent journalists from around the world, were shocking and that they also threatened the safety of all other exiled or immigrant journalists in the country.

Yücel said he believed the German federal government had been taking such attacks seriously but that the measures taken to prevent them weren’t effective.

Yücel was jailed in Turkey for nearly a year, from February 2017 to February 2018, which led to a rift between the Turkish and German governments, with Berlin using diplomatic channels to secure his release.

After his release, he returned to Germany, where he published a book recounting his detention in Turkey. He also testified before a Berlin court in May 2019 and revealed the physical and psychological abuse he was subjected to during his detention, holding Erdoğan personally responsible for the torture he endured.

A number of journalists and politicians in Turkey and abroad, as well as social media users, accused Erdoğan and his AKP government of responsibility for the attack on Acarer.

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 in 2021, according to RSF.

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