‘Turkish police tried to kill me,’ prominent photojournalist Kılıç claims

Police officers arrest AFP photographer Bülent Kılıç while covering a Pride march in Istanbul that had been banned by authorities on June 26, 2021. Hacı Bişkin / Gazete Duvar / AFP

Award-winning photojournalist Bülent Kılıç, who was detained during a Pride parade in Istanbul on Saturday, said the police tried to kill him after pushing him to the ground.

“They tried to kill me, they tried to prevent me from breathing. They will be held accountable in court,” Kılıç, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer, said on Twitter after he was released on Sunday.

Riot police in Istanbul fired tear gas and blocked streets during a march in support of LGBT+ rights, detaining 25 people including Kılıç.

Images posted on social media showed police pinning Kılıç to the ground with their knees. In a video recording of his detention by the police, Kılıç was heard screaming, “I can’t breathe.”

After his release from İstanbul police headquarters, Kılıç said he had filed a “violent arrest” complaint against the police who pushed their legs into his neck and back during the arrest.

“Journalism is not a crime, get your knees off our neck,” Kılıç said in another tweet.

Reporters Without Borders in Turkey condemned his arrest. AFP management also protested the “violent arrest” of Kılıç “while he was only doing his job as a journalist.”

The march participants comprised several civil society groups that had gathered under the motto, “The street is ours.”

Footage and photos of participants showed some being pushed and dragged by riot police on Istiklal Avenue in the heart of the city.

After a spectacular Istanbul Pride parade in 2014 joined by more than 100,000 people, Turkish authorities have banned the march in recent years, officially for security reasons.

LGBT+ groups accuse the Turkish government of waging a “hate campaign” against them, encouraging violence against a vulnerable community.

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