Turkey Journalists’ Society (TGC) condemned the series of attacks in a statement.
TGC said, “We expect that the impunity imposed on all attacks on newspapers and journalists will not be applied in this case. It is impossible to talk about democracy in a society where there is no freedom of the press. Social peace cannot be achieved in an environment where newspapers and journalists are constantly targeted. Attacks on the press are direct attacks on the public’s right to receive information and learn the truth. We want those responsible to be found and punished as soon as possible”.
A letter signed by 20 international organisations–led by the International Press Institute and Committee to Protect Journalists–following the attacks on Demirağ and Özyol on May 16 called on Erdoğan to condemn the assaults and make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, reported Hurriyet Daily News. “Attacks like those against Demirağ and Özyol, if left unpunished, will have a serious chilling effect on the country’s journalists and further strengthen a climate of fear, which seriously hinders Turkey’s credibility as a democracy,” read the letter.
“A brief analysis of these attacks reveals that the frequency of such moves against journalists increase at times when the country passes through politically-troubled straits and is open to provocations. Besides journalists, prominent politicians from different lines become targets of such physical attacks at these times. A lynch attempt attack against Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu by a nationalist crowd during a funeral of a fallen soldier in early April should be interpreted within this frame.
“More striking is the fact that this increase in attacks against dissident journalists comes on the eve of the Istanbul election rerun, which has fuelled political tension once again following the cancellation of March 31 polls for Turkey’s largest metropolis. Although there is no direct link between these mentioned attacks on journalists and Istanbul’s renewed elections, an increase in the tension would further complicate the political climate”.
“Having monitored media freedom issues and impunity towards crime committed against media representatives for 25 years, this is the first time I noticed that a government circle has provoked a hostile climate for journalists, at this extent, kept observing intimidations and violence against ‘recalcitrant’ media representatives”, Erol Önderoğlu, a Turkey Representative for RSF who is facing trial, told Index.
“President Erdogan, the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party circles remained silent, although the first attack occurred on May 11, and everybody knew it would be contagious. In fact, the government was complicit in allowing MHP militants to silence criticism coming from nationalist or secular parts of the society. It is not a coincidence, then, that two parliament enquiry demands submitted by Iyi Party (Good Party, born from a division within the MHP) and by the main opposition party CHP aiming to investigate this hostile environment for journalists have both been rejected by AKP and MHP votes. Since May 11, no less (sic) than 10 journalists, columnists and reporters were physically attacked in this post-local-election process. All perpetrators were arrested but released pending trial, except for one case in which four men involved in a gun attack were sent to jail. The question is, how shall we expect to fight against impunity if the government itself is clearly involved in the propagation of violence?”