Police clash with journalists in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 20, 2021. Police injured at least six members of the press during the clashes. (Photo: Emre Orman/Twitter)

Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets into crowd of journalists in Istanbul

Istanbul, July 21, 2021 – Turkish authorities must ensure that journalists can cover political events without being harassed or attacked by police, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, police in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district disrupted a political march commemorating the victims of the 2015 Suruç bombing and shoved, hit, and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a group of journalists, injuring at least six, according to according to news reports and posts on social media by those journalists.

“Turkish authorities must clamp down on police abuses of journalists covering protests; officers are far too willing to harass, obstruct, and fire tear gas and rubber bullets at members of the press,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities must hold officers who have used unnecessary force to account, and ensure that journalists can work safely.”

In a video uploaded to Twitter by Eylem Nazlıer, a reporter at the local daily Evrensel, police can be seen firing tear gas and rubber bullets at Nazlıer and other journalists as they order members of the press to leave the area.

Freelance journalist Emre Orman tweeted a video showing police throw a journalist to the ground, and officers are seen hitting several journalists with their shields. In that tweet, Orman wrote that an officer punched him during the scuffle, and then uploaded another video showing that punch. After the incident, Orman posted photos of welts and bruises on his face, hand, arm, and leg.

Meral Danyıldız, a reporter for the daily BirGün, tweeted that the journalist thrown to the ground in Orman’s video was Fatoş Erdoğan, a reporter for the online outlet Dokuz8haber. Danyıldız also wrote that an officer had grabbed her while she was covering the clashes.

Erdoğan posted images on Twitter showing wounds to her wrist and hand.

Police also fired rubber bullets that hit Agence France-Presse photographer Yasin Akgül, according to tweets by Orman, Erdoğan, and other journalists at the scene, and Erdem Şahin, a photojournalist for the European Pressphoto Agency also tweeted that he had been shot by rubber bullets alongside the other reporters.

CPJ could not immediately determine the severity of the journalists’ injuries.

Istanbul police previously fired tear gas and rubber bullets at groups of journalists during a protest in February, as CPJ documented at the time.

CPJ emailed the Istanbul police directorate for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.