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Another DİHA reporter attacked

(BIANET/IFEX) - On the evening of 25 May 2010, Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Ömer Çelik was assaulted in the Istanbul district of Şişli. The attackers referred to themselves as "üklücü" ('idealists') in reference to the "Grey Wolves", an ultra-nationalist and neo fascist youth organization of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Çelik, a student at the Marmara University Faculty of Communication, was brought to the emergency room of the Etfal Hospital after the incident. He underwent medical treatment in the brain surgery ward and the orthopaedic ward. Çelik sustained two cracks in his skull and his left arm is broken in three places below the elbow. He had to be given stitches to the head and his arm has been encased in plaster.

Çelik was discharged from hospital the following morning. However, risk of a trauma was a concern for 24 hours.

Çelik had published an interview with academic Özgür Sevgi Göral on 24 May, one day prior to the attack. He drew attention to the "increasing racist attacks" against Kurdish students in eastern provinces. The journalist wrote that these attacks had reached alarming dimensions.

The DİHA Agency announced that Çelik got on the bus from Beşiktaş to Şişli (the European side of Istanbul) at around 9:30 p.m. on 25 May. The journalist was followed by three people whom he knew from Marmara University and who introduced themselves as "ülkücü". According to DİHA, a group of eight people, alleged members of the so-called Hearth of the Ideal (Ülkü Ocakları), an organization affiliated with the Grey Wolves, assaulted Çelik after he had got off a bus.

As reported by DİHA on 26 May, images of the attackers were captured by security cameras as they approached the journalist with clubs in their hands. Two of the attackers were visible in the footage; one of them wore a black t-shirt and could be seen holding a club.

The police took Çelik's statement in hospital. Çelik said that the people he knew from the university got on the same bus. The journalist stated that he was able to identify the attackers and filed a criminal complaint.

The journalist's medical report determined that Çelik will be unable to work for one month. He must be kept under constant observation.

In another incident on 19 May, private security officials interfered when DİHA reporter Murat Altunöz covered a boycott organized by the Mustafa Kemal University Students Association (MKÖDER) in the university's canteen. Altunöz was threatened by the university's security staff and by civilians impersonating gendarmerie officers.

Altunöz was forced to enter a car and was threatened, "We warned you before. Why are you making news for DİHA? You will have to face bad things". Afterwards, the people in the car let him go.

Yet another DİHA reporter, Pınar Ural, was assaulted in a contracted public bus of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality after she had covered a student protest on the Maslak Campus of the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) on 17 May.

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  • Two reporters harassed in separate incidents

    DİHA reporter Pınar Ural was attacked on a bus in Istanbul while reporter Murat Altunöz was threatened by security guards while covering a university boycott.

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