The International Press Institute along with 18 other press freedom and freedom of expression organizations, including PEN International and several PEN centers, on Thursday sent a joint letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for justice following the recent physical attacks on two journalists, Yavuz Selim Demirağ and İdris Özyol.
The letter urges the Turkish government to publicly denounce these acts of violence and ensure journalist safety in the run-up to the mayoral election in İstanbul set for June 23.
On May 10 journalist Yavuz Selim Demirağ, a regular contributor to the government-critical Yeniçağ newspaper, was attacked outside his home in Ankara. The assailants beat the journalist with baseball bats as he was returning home after presenting his evening television program on Türkiyem TV. Authorities detained six alleged perpetrators who were released within 24 hours reportedly on the grounds that there was no perceived threat to the journalist’s life.
This attack was followed on May 15 by another incident in which investigative journalist İdris Özyol was reportedly attacked outside the Yeni Yüzyıl newspaper’s building in Antalya in southern Turkey. Özyol was hospitalized with injuries to his head and chest. The Progressive Union of Journalists issued a statement linking the attack on Özyol to public threats against journalists made by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Regional Chairman Talu Bilgili.
“We are writing to you to express our serious concern over the brutal attacks on journalists in Turkey during the past five days,” the groups said in the letter.
“As representatives of the undersigned organizations dedicated to the promotion of freedom of expression, press freedom and the free flow of information, we would like to request Your Excellency to condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and call for the police and justice system to ensure that the perpetrators of these attacks are brought to justice.”
The letter was signed by Articolo 21, Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Danish PEN European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), German PEN Initiative for Freedom of Expression (IFoX), International Press Institute (IPI), Norwegian PEN, PEN America, PEN Belgium-Flanders, PEN Canada, PEN International, PEN Netherlands, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO) and Swedish PEN.