A lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has requested the opening of a parliamentary inquiry into a series of physical assaults that have targeted critical journalists and opposition politicians in Turkey during the 18-year rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), local media reported on Thursday.
Sezgin Tanrıkulu, also a prominent human rights activist and deputy head of a parliamentary committee on human rights, on Thursday, requested the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the considerable number of physical attacks that have targeted journalists and politicians in Turkey since 2002.
“People question whether the Interior Ministry had taken the necessary measures to prevent these attacks. Among those who carried out attacks on journalists and politicians within the last 18 years, the number of assailants who were found and the details of the legal proceedings launched against them must be shared with the public,” the lawmaker said in the written request.
It is also important to reveal the number of journalists who have been killed in Turkey in the past 18 years along with the number of murders that remain unsolved, Tanrıkulu added.
The MP also cited the claim that the ruling AKP was ordering the attacks targeting dissident journalists and politicians in order to intimidate them, which is based on the government’s policy of impunity that has protected a considerable number of the assailants so far.
“[Many] journalists have been sent to prison in Turkey, and the AKP’s politically motivated operations have left nearly 10,000 members of the press in the country unemployed. Hundreds of critical press outlets have been shut down, and journalists who refuse to serve as government mouthpieces have been attacked,” Tanrıkulu further stated.
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.
According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are behind bars in Turkey and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.
A world leader in jailing journalists, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).