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Journalists attacked in Edirne and Malatya

(BIANET/IFEX) - 11 May 2011 - The head of the South-East European Journalists Association (AGD), Bulent Ayan, "Sabah" newspaper reporter Murat Savas and "Edirne" newspaper reporter Birol Cakan were attacked on the evening of 6 May 2011 in Edirne (western Thrace). The AGD, the Edirne Journalists Association (EGD) and the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) condemned the attack on the journalists. They urged the authorities to find the yet unidentified perpetrators.

Ayan is also the general publications manager of the local "Hudut" newspaper and Savas reports for the "Hudut" daily as well. Both journalists were attacked together with Cakan after they had left a restaurant on the evening of 6 May. Two unidentified individuals assaulted them in a side street.

The two attackers approached the journalists from behind. They pushed Savas and Cakan on the ground and started kicking them. When Ayan tried to get help, the aggressors ran away and disappeared into the dark.

Savas and Cakan suffered several injuries in the attack and underwent medical treatment at the Edirne State Hospital. The journalists drew attention to the fact that the attackers leaped to the street from the garden of a Turkish bath.

The journalists said that they did not know the attackers. In their opinion, the way the assault was carried out indicated that it was an organized attack.

The AGD and EGD announced in a joint statement that the reason for the attack has not been understood yet. However, they pointed to the fact that three journalists had been attacked and condemned the incident.

The associations called on the authorities to find the perpetrators and the instigators.

The TGC declared in a press release, "It is the most important function of journalists to report on topics such as injustice against the public and corruption. We condemn the systematic attacks against our colleagues who fulfil this duty. We want the responsible persons to be brought to court as soon as possible".

In a separate incident, also on the evening of 6 May, journalists in Malatya were attacked after an event organized by the Republican People's Party (CHP). The Malatya (South-East) Youth Commission of the main opposition party had organized an event to commemorate past leftist revolutionaries. The journalists were attacked after the event when they recorded footage of a quarrel that had broken out between members of the Youth Division.

The journalists were subjected to verbal and physical attacks. Gunes TV cameraman Yusuf Aslan was kicked.

Journalist Sultan Kilic, who was assaulted, reported to the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), "We were just doing our job. Nobody said anything when we filmed footage of the event. But when we tried to record the fight that emerged when the group left the venue, they cursed and kicked us."

"Cameraman Aslan was kicked so hard that he collided with a minibus. I could take a few images. When they saw me recording, a couple of people turned towards me and attacked me".

Kilic said that the journalists did not file a complaint on the same day and that they were waiting for an apology from the CHP management. For the time being, there was no response at all, he said.

In April, the police used tear gas against journalists in Hakkari (South-East) while the press was covering a demonstration. The police threatened the journalists by pointing their weapons at them and tried to run them over with an armoured vehicle. The Hakkari Journalists Association condemned the attack.

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