An opposition lawmaker has revealed that five members of the press were assaulted on the street in the first 15 days of 2021, mainly due to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s refusal to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions in similar attacks over the last several years, local media reported on Saturday.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Eskişehir deputy Utku Çakırözer, who is also a former journalist, said that assaults on five journalists in 15 days shows the increasing pressure on media that’s critical of the Turkish government.
The MP said although 34 journalists were assaulted in 2019 and 17 more in 2020, those responsible for the attacks were not adequately punished.
“We have been warning [the AKP] for two years now. Threats against journalists in Turkey have turned into attacks that aim to take their lives. It’s the responsibility of the ruling power [AKP] to ensure that press members enjoy their rights to free speech and press freedom,” Çakırözer added.
“Assaults targeting Turkey’s journalists are increasing due to the lack of punishment [for the perpetrators]. The year 2021 unfortunately started with similar assaults. We have to stop this troubling course of events by ending this lack of accountability and consequences.”
The CHP MP also stated that in order to stop these attacks, members of the AKP should stop pointing to journalists who criticize them as potential targets.
The latest assault on Turkey’s journalists took place on Friday, when the nationalist Yeniçağ daily’s Ankara representative Orhan Uğurluoğlu was attacked in front of his house in Ankara by three unknown assailants.
The attack took place after Uğurluoğlu criticized in a column the AKP government for rising inflation and skyrocketing food prices, saying he was shocked and embarrassed by reports of baby formula protected behind lock and key in supermarkets because people can’t afford to pay for it.
The Turkish government increased its crackdown on critical media outlets and journalists in the country in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 following which dozens of journalists were jailed while more than 200 media outlets were closed down under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.