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The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has criticized a new wave of violence against journalists in Turkey covering the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests. Journalists covering the Gezi protests’ anniversary in Istanbul and Ankara have again been beaten, intimidated, insulted and injured by the Turkish police forces while doing their job.According to figures gathered by the EFJ affiliate, the Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikasi (TGS – Journalists’ Union of Turkey), several journalists have been attacked by the Turkish police forces while reporting the peaceful protest taking place in Taksim square (Istanbul) and Ankara. They include:

  • Ivan Watson (CNN) has been intimidated and taken briefly into custody during alive coverage for CNN International in Istanbul
  • Piero Castellano (Italian photojournalist) has been injured by the police in Ankara
  • Erdal Imrek (Evrensel) has received tear gas in the face and has been beaten by the police
  • Ahmet Sik (freelance, 2014 laureate of UNESCO Prize) has been beaten by the police
  • Atilgan Özdil (photojournalist for AA) has been hit at the head by an unspecified object
  • Meltem Aslan (female journalist and unionist for TGS Ankara branch) has been beaten by the police who tried to get her press card
  • Sol Gazetesi (left-wing daily newspaper) is under judicial harassment for his recent media coverage

“Those police officers who were attacking journalists are acting with impunity, it only encourages them to continue to use violence against our colleagues,” condemned the TGS, who has called on the Turkish government to punish those responsible for the attacks.

“The government should have learned from its past experience and realised that attacking professional journalists, banning the means of communication, intimidating and threatening human rights defenders will never make the country a better place to live.” reminded the EFJ.

According to a Reuters report in the Guardian on 1 June, ‘Near Taksim, hundreds of people chanted “Resign, murderer AKP” and “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” before police fired teargas at the crowd, forcing it to retreat.

Eighty people were detained and 13 were injured in clashes with police, Turkey’s Human Rights Association said, but no official figures were immediately available. Police helicopters circled overhead.

Tourists lugging suitcases were forced to turn back to escape the stinging gas. A few hundred protesters carrying political banners ran away from police down a hill towards the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway bisecting Istanbul, Europe’s biggest city with about 14 million residents.

Police also broke up protests in the capital Ankara and the southern city of Adana, CNN Turk reported.
EFJ news release 3 June 2014.
The Guardian