Journalists and representatives from professional organizations recount how police brutality affects journalists in Turkey in our documentary, “Journalism Under Attack”
In addition to political, judicial and financial pressures press members have been facing in Turkey, police violence against journalists during news coverage has also been increasing of late. Many journalists have been injured in police interventions, examples of which we have seen frequently over the past year. Journalists being prevented from covering demonstrations not only violates press freedom, but also the public’s right to information.
The increasing police brutality against journalists is the focus of Expression Interrupted platform’s new documentary “Journalism Under Attack,” directed by Mustafa Ünlü. Our video went on air on 10 January, which is observed in Turkey as the “Working Journalists Day” since the 1960s.
In our documentary, journalists Beritan Canözer, Beyza Kural, Bülent Kılıç and Emre Orman, who have all been victims of police violence during news coverage, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu, Press, Broadcast and Printing Press Workers Union (DİSK Basın-İş) Chair Faruk Eren and the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) Chair Gökhan Durmuş recount how police violence affects journalists in Turkey.
The documentary opens with footage recorded by journalist Beyza Kural on her camera during an attempt by the police to violently take her under custody while she was covering a student protest in Istanbul on 6 November 2015.
Kural recounts the incident in the documentary: “While I was recording the detention of students in front of Istanbul University, I was pushed away by the police. I was asked to show my press card and I did. But I was still being kept away from the scene. Then one of the policemen shouted, ‘Nothing is the same, we will teach you this!’ and ordered other officers to detain me. I was kept in front of the detention vehicle, handcuffed behind my back. After my colleagues intervened, I was released.” The case Kural filed against the three officers who attempted to violently detain her is still pending.
RSF Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu recounts in the documentary how the “reorganization of the state” following the introduction of the Presidential government system has been affecting the public’s access to information. Stressing that the government has been following an authoritarian policy in the last five years, Önderoğlu says press members are increasingly facing more restrictions for this reason.
TGS Chairman Gökhan Durmuş says police brutality against journalists is a part of an all-out attack on journalism in Turkey alongside political, judicial and financial pressures. Durmuş states that the police are the visible aspect of this approach. Recalling the change in the ownership structure of the media and the fact that the government is now controlling 95 percent of the media in the country, Durmuş says the public’s access to information in Turkey has been restricted for quite some time.
Journalist Beritan Canözer, who was detained in Diyarbakır during news coverage on 16 December 2015 on the grounds that she seemed “too excited,” explains in the documentary that she and other journalists working in the field are often harassed by police officers insinuating that the journalists “record the footage for terrorist organizations.”
Journalist Emre Orman talks about the methods he came up with to avoid police intervention and being taken into custody while covering demonstrations while Bülent Kılıç, a photojournalist for Agence France Presse (AFP), recounts the violent arrest he faced while covering last year’s banned Pride Parade in Istanbul.
DİSK Basın-İş Cahir Faruk Eren draws attention to the violence perpetrated by civilians in addition to police brutality: “We have been experiencing this fascist terror recently. Many journalists were attacked, and the attackers faced no penalties, they were almost rewarded. And sadly, impunity encourages this mob.”