Demonstrators hold a placard which reads "to Struggle Shoulder to Shoulder" on July, 31 2021 in Istanbul, as they take part in a solidarity protest one day after seven people from a Turkish family of Kurdish origin were killed. Journalists were attacked covering a protest against the killing on August 1. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

Mob attacks journalists covering Istanbul protest and police beat, detain two reporters

On August 1, 2021 a mob in Istanbul attacked at least six journalists covering a march against the killing of seven members of a Turkish family of Kurdish origin, while also attacking the protesters, according to news reports. The police detained at least two journalists but none of the alleged attackers, the reports said.

Derya Saadet, a reporter with the leftist news website said that about 20 people charged at the protest and the journalists covering it in an interview with leftist broadcaster Artı TV, which the outlet posted to Twitter. Saadet said in the interview that she fell to the ground but when she tried to get up roughly eight men hit her and kicked her after identifying her as a journalist until other reporters dragged her away.

CPJ spoke to Saadet via messaging app and she said that her phone was broken during the attack and that she suffered bruises but did not seek medical treatment. Hayri Tunç, a reporter for the leftist news website Gazete Fersude, whom reports said was also attacked, though did not provide details, tweeted photographs of the men who attacked Saadet. Tunç did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.

Attackers also hit reporter Ceylan Bulut and broke her phone, according to the journalists’ employer which tweeted video of the incident.

Another reporter, Muhammed Enes Sezgin, with the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, told CPJ in a phone interview that he was hit by attackers as well as a plainclothes police officer as he was covering the protest. He said that after the protest as he was sitting in a park writing his article, police detained him, hit him, and drove him to the hospital to verify his medical status on the way to the police station in accordance with a Turkish law preventing police abuse of detainees.

At the hospital, Taylan Öztaş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish biweekly Özgür Gelecek, who had also been hit by protesters and was at the hospital seeking a doctor’s report for battery, witnessed police hitting Sezgin, he told CPJ via phone. When he tried to intervene, he said police detained him in handcuffs and hit him. 

According to the two journalists and a report in Mezopotamya News Agency, police took them as well as four protesters to a police station. Sezgin told CPJ that police punched the group of six, and kicked them on their arms, heads, and stomachs in a dark room with no visible cameras. Sezgin also said he was strip searched.

According to the Mezopotamya News Agency, the journalists and the four others were transferred to a court in accordance with a prosecutor’s request for their official arrest but the court released them while placing a travel ban on four of the five, including the journalists. The journalists said they did not know for how long the ban would be in place.

Rojin Altay, another reporter with Mezopotamya News Agency, told CPJ via phone that she was hit in the head by the attackers at the protest, and was also kicked in the legs, making it hard for her to walk for a few days. She said after learning that Öztaş was taken into police custody after he sought a doctor’s report about his injury she decided not to go to the hospital for documentation of the attack.

CPJ emailed the Istanbul police for comment but received no reply.