Turkey has had a shoddy record on protecting independent journalism for years now. Termed by the Committee to Protect Journalists “the world’s worst jailer of journalists,” international journalist groups like the CPJ and and Reporters without Borders have underlined the extent to which journalists have been subject to police violence as they try to cover the demonstrations.
Reporters without Borders notes that “The police are required to maintain law and order, but they also have a duty to protect journalists while they are doing their job as reporters.”The reports give multiple examples of journalists injured by police action.
Among them was Ahmet Şık, who is subject to a criminal case that has been profiled in Amnesty’s major report on Turkey’s attacks on freedom of expression, Decriminalize Dissent. This past week, according to Reporters without Borders and others, “Şık was hit on the head by a tear gas canister… while photographing clashes between police and protesters…. Onlookers said the canister was deliberately thrown at Sik from a distance of about 10 metres.” This story conforms with more general reports of police deliberately targeting individuals with gas canisters.
Yet these injuries are part of a larger picture, one in which Turkey has routinely and consistently used excessive force against peaceful protesters and endangered innocent bystanders. It is time to tell Turkish authorities that this disgraceful misuse of police force must end.