Voices in Danger: Police in Taksim Square target journalists in violent crackdown

The coverage of Turkey's protests is being hampered by aggressive police action

Share
Related Topics

It is particularly poignant that a silent man has become the latest face of the unrest that began in Istanbul and has spread across Turkey.

Erdem Gunduz, now dubbed 'standing man', has taken to holding eight hour long silent vigils in Taksim Square, Istanbul, a course of action now copied by hundreds around him.

In Turkey too, voices are in danger. At least eight journalists were briefly arrested yesterday. Media personnel were kept at a distance from the ongoing police operation to clear the square.

“The illegal arrests must stop at once, and investigations must be carried out in order to punish those responsible for the abuses,” said Reporters Without Borders, the international organisation that campaigns for a free press. “Officials must also clearly condemn this behaviour and stop scapegoating the media in their speeches because it gives the impression that they are encouraging these excesses.

“We are very disturbed by the increasingly systematic nature of the police violence, which seems more like revenge than law enforcement. It is unacceptable for journalists to be deliberately targeted, prevented from working and beaten by the police officers who are supposed to protect them.”

Reporter Gökhan Biçici and cameraman Okan Altunkara of pro-Kurdish IMC TV, Dogan New Agency reporters Ferhat Uludaglar and Ugur Can, cameraman Emre Fidan of nationalist TV channel Ulusal Kanal and Aslan Sahan, a reporter for the Aydinlik daily newspaper, were arrested on Sunday, as they reported on clashes between police and demonstrators in various Istanbul neighbourhoods.

Police grabbed Biçici’s gas mask and iPad and dragged him along the ground. According to the latest information, he is still in police custody, as is Daniele Stefanini, an Italian freelancer who was injured and arrested.

Other journalists have had their photos and video footage deleted by the police. Cem Türkel, a photographer for the evening newspaper Aksam, for example, was forced to delete the photos he had just taken of clashes in the district of Harbiye, near Taksim Square, on the night of 15 June.

A British freelance journalist also claimed to have been arrested and held by police for three hours last night in the district of Osmanbey. When his camera and microphone were returned his photos and recordings had been deleted. His notebook and press card have not been returned. Police are currently refusing media personnel without press accreditation access to Taksim Square and other areas of high police presence.

Police hit photographer Eylem Düzyol with batons as she took photos in Istanbul at the weekend. “We had been working within view of the police since the morning,” she told Reporters Without Borders. “They knew perfectly well that we were journalists and I even showed my press card to convince them. But they still kept hitting us.” They plan to file a complaint.

Foreign journalists have been targeted too, with Russian reporter Arkady Babchenko arrested while photographing police vehicles on Taksim Square on 14 June. He was held overnight and is now having trouble walking because of the blows he received to his legs.

Another Russian, Alexandra Bondarenko, a reporter for Russia Today TV’s Spanish-language service was hit by a rubber bullet while covering clashes on the evening of 15 June..

According to some accounts, police also deliberately fired teargas at journalists covering the past weekend’s protests near Kizilay Square in Ankara.

The Turkish Association of Journalists (TGC) asked Istanbul’s governor and senior police officers to put a stop to the arrests of journalists. The association also said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats against the media “are endangering the safety of journalists.”

The Islamist newspaper Zaman’s news director, Ibrahim Dogan, was admitted to Taksim Hospital the same day with a broken arm after being hit by a teargas canister fired by the police.

Many other Turkish journalists have been hit with teargas, and sustained other, more serious injuries as police have sought to clear the protests. Some have ended up with broken limbs, and other serious injuries.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland: Executive Director

£66,192 per annum including car allowance of £5,700): The Richmond Fellowship ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Office Junior

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Site Agent

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This traditional family company...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Fighters from Isis parading in Raqqa, northern Syria, where the ‘Islamic State’ has its capital; Iranian-backed Shia militia are already fighting the group on the ground in Iran  

Heartlessness towards refugees is the lifeblood of jihadist groups like Isis

Charlie Winter
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent