2021 started with violence against journalists in Turkey

Author: Cansu Timur

Journalists and media employers in Turkey have been facing different attacks since the beginning of 2021. On January, 15th the first attacks happened. One television presenter and one media manager were attacked in front of their homes. On March, 15th, a radio programmer was killed. The person who killed the radio programmer said that he “didn’t like some of radio programmer’s expressions during the broadcast” 


In some attacks, even no indictments are made. Some journalists are accused by politicians of arranging attacks by themselves. Some journalists asked the government officials for efficient investigation. State officials have issued reactions regarding some attacks. However, there was no complete condemnation of the growing threat and physical attacks. Even though Head of Communications Fahrettin Altun condemned the attacks, some journalists announced the lack of investigation.


According to the Journalists Union of Turkey’s announcement, from January 2021 to March, 17th 2021, nine journalists were subjected to attacks. The Union states that the ruling party does not condemn these attacks, does not conduct effective investigations, and releases attackers with low penalties. “This policy of impunity encourages new attacks. This systematic attitude shows that the government is a party to crime” they added. (https://tgs.org.tr/artik-yeter-gazetecilere-yonelik-saldirilari-durdurun/)


On January 15th, Orhan Uğuroğlu, Yeniçağ Ankara Representative was beaten by four people. In his statement to the police, he said, attackers threatened him with the sentence “We are coming from MHP. Do not criticize MHP” MHP is a political party called Nationalist Movement Party, and the partner of the ruling party (AKP). After the Uğuroğlu's statement, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said that "he organized the attack himself" The attackers were released on condition of judicial control. 


On January 15th, Afşin Hatipoğlu, the presenter, announced that he was attacked by three masked people while he was entering his house at night. The attackers could not be identified. Although no one was detained, the Minister of Interior said that the attack was not related to the fact that Hatipoğlu is a journalist, but it was caused by a personal problem. Hatipoğlu, “There is not a single concrete evidence in the case file. How do you make your statement?” he asked.


On March 8th, Levent Gültekin, While he was trying to go to the news channel where he worked he was attacked by 25 people on a busy street. Nobody was detained for 15 days after the attack. Gültekin informed the Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice that he was attacked by 25 people in the square with hundreds of security cameras, and yet they haven’t caught a single person for 15 days. ‘I condemn you both for not doing your job properly, dear Ministers” he said. After Gültekin’s reaction, 3 suspects were detained. Gültekin’s arm was broken in the attack.


On March 15th, Hazım Özsu, was a radio programmer killed by a person who had been following his program for a year. In the statement to the police killer said that he “didn’t like some of radio programmer’s expressions during the broadcast” While he was shooting Özsu with the gun, the killer said to him that he was lowering his voice then”. Özsu’s family told they wanted the punishment for this horrible murder.