Turkey: At Least 31 Journalists Attacked, 1 Journalist Killed in the Last 17 Months

As five journalists have been assaulted over the last two weeks and the perpetrators have been released, bianet compiled the attacks launched against journalists throughout 2018 and in the first quarter of 2019 based on bianet Media Monitoring Reports by Erol Önderoğlu.

Accordingly, four journalists were attacked and one journalist was threatened with death in the first three months of 2019.

While two journalists were assaulted in April 2019, five journalists were attacked in May so far.

In 2018, at least 20 incidents of assault took place. One journalist was killed.

4 attacks, one threat in first three months of 2019
Daily Sözcü’s Representative to Konya Mehmet Ali Kayacı and journalist Ömer Faruk Karabulut were attacked while they were following the electoral campaign of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sarayönü district in Konya on February 27, 2019.

Kayacı and Karabulut were verbally and physically attacked after an interview that they made in a coffee house and broadcast online. The journalists filed a criminal complaint regarding the attack.

Reporting on the unlicensed buildings constructed in Göreme National Park, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, İhlas News Agency (İHA) Reporter Coşkun Sağlamdin was threatened with death by the municipality workers and owners of the unlicensed buildings on February 19. The journalist also filed a criminal complaint.

Journalist İrfan Değirmenci was also attacked in İstanbul on February 11 while he was trying to interview the people waiting in the line to buy vegetables sold at the stalls set up by the municipality to regulate prices.

Journalist Murat Gürkan was assaulted due to a news reported on Aydın-based Nazillipost website on December 21, 2018. Making a statement on the attack, Journalists’ Association of Nazilli (NGC) indicated that Gürkan was attacked by Nazilli Municipality Football Club Chair Özgen Türker.

2 journalists attacked for 3 times in April
Based on the news that we have compiled from local and national news websites, two journalists were attacked in April 2019. Of these journalists, Ali Rıza Tığ was attacked twice in three days.

As reported by Gazete Karınca news website, Aydın Atay, a student at the Journalism Department of Antep University and a reporter for the Mezopotamya Agency (MA), was intercepted by two people wearing masks on April 3. Stabbing Atay in his leg, the assaulters escaped after stealing his mobile phone. He complained against the assaulters.

Ali Rıza Tığ, the Grant Holder of Zonguldak-based Pusula newspaper, was physically assaulted on April 29. Tığ filed a criminal complaint against the assaulters. One day later, Tığ was attacked again in front of his house. The wound on his head was stitched.

5 attacks in May so far
In May, five journalist have been attacked so far.

Yavuz Selim Demirağ, a program producer for the Türkiyem TV and a columnist for the daily Yeni Çağ newspaper, was attacked by seven people in İstanbul on May 10. Taken into custody in relation with the incident, six people were released after their deposition.

In Antalya, investigative journalist İdris Özyol was assaulted on May 15 and Ergin Çevik, the Editor-in-Chief of Antalya-based Güney Haberci news website, was attacked on May 20.

On May 24, Hakan Denizli, the Grant Holder of the Adana-based daily Egemen newspaper, was assaulted. While the ones who attacked Özyol and Çevik were released, the assaulters of Denizli have not been caught yet.

Lastly, Sabahattin Önkibar, a columnist for the Odatv news website, was targeted by attackers. The assaulters of Önkibar have been released.

Önderoğlu: Attacks are like a contagious disease
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Representative to Turkey and bianet Media Monitoring reporter Erol Önderoğlu spoke to Hikmet Adal from bianet regarding the escalating attacks against journalists.

Önderoğlu said, “As part of their promises about protecting human rights defenders and journalists in Turkey, we expect from the authorities that they particularly state that the ones responsible for these attacks will be brought to justice. Impunity is openly paving the way for new assaults.”

In his interview, Önderoğlu also underlined that the attacks against journalists have took on a character of a contagious disease and, as the responsible parties for this incident, he referred not only to the politicians who remain unresponsive or devote themselves to polarizing statements, but also to the judiciary, “who put extraordinary procedures in effect.”

At least 20 attacks, 74 threats in 2018
According to the bianet Media Monitoring Reports, throughout 2018, at least 19 journalists and one media organization were attacked, 70 journalist and four media organizations were threatened.

Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi from Saudi Arabia was killed in the Consulate General of the country in İstanbul on October 2, 2018.