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Turkish journalist from opposition newspaper beaten with baseball bats - The Independent

14.05.2019, 17:04
A Turkish journalist who has been critical of the government has been taken to hospital after he was attacked by a gang wielding baseball bats outside his home, as The Independent reported. Yavuz Selim Demirag, a columnist for the Yenicag newspaper, was beaten up by a group of five or six people on Saturday, the paper reported. The attack came shortly after he had appeared on a TV show on Friday. It was not immediately clear why Mr Demirag had been assaulted, although many suspect it was connected to his newspaper’s hostility to political allies of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yenicag, which publishes news under the slogan “Turkey Belongs to the Turks”, is known as a fiercely nationalistic publication and strongly loyal to the secular ideology of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This has led the newspaper to refuse to support nationalist political parties which have in recent years allied themselves with the Islamist AKP, led by Mr Erdogan. In 2016, an armed mob stormed the offices of Yenicag in Istanbul, causing damage to the building and cars parked outside. Turkey’s febrile politics are even more volatile at the moment after the electoral authority ordered elections for the mayor of Istanbul be re-run following a surprise victory for the opposition candidate. Mr Erdogan’s party, which had previously controlled the mayoralty, claimed the poll was marred by fraud but his opponents decried the move as the desperate attempt by the increasingly authoritarian AKP to cling onto power in Turkey’s largest city. Ever since the failed military coup against Mr Erdogan’s government in 2016, the president’s crackdown against independent and opposition journalists has intensified. According to Reporters Without Borders – which ranks Turkey 157 out of 180 in the world for press freedom – dozens of media outlets have been closed down or bought up by pro-government groups. More professional journalists have been imprisoned, often with life sentences, in Turkey than any other nation in the world. Just last month, six senior staff members of the liberal anti-authoritarian Cumhuriyet newspaper had their jail sentences of more than three years upheld by an appeal court. The group are accused on “assisting a terrorist organisation” based on contradictory and scant evidence. The Independent
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