The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Turkish authorities to investigate the recent attack on journalist Muhammed Yavaş and ensure that his attacker is held accountable. The incident occurred in the province of Çanakkale.
Background and Assault
On May 10, Yavaş, a writer and publisher of the weekly newspaper Çan’dan Haberler, criticized political banners by the pro-government Grey Wolves nationalist group in Çanakkale’s Çan city via a Facebook post. These banners suggested that voting for opposition candidates in the upcoming elections would be equivalent to supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey designates as a terrorist organization.
Later that day, Hasan Dinç, the local leader of the Grey Wolves, invited Yavaş for a meeting at a café. During the meeting, Dinç physically assaulted Yavaş by punching and kicking him, knocking him to the ground, and issuing death threats. Yavaş, who spoke to CPJ, stated that he did not fight back during the altercation and sought medical attention after the incident. He has since filed a criminal complaint.
Conflicting Claims and CPJ’s Response
Dinç claimed through a messaging app that a “brawl” occurred because Yavaş provoked it. However, Yavaş denied this and informed CPJ that he did not engage in any physical confrontation.
Özgür Öğret, CPJ’s Turkey representative, called on authorities in Çanakkale to thoroughly investigate Yavaş’s criminal complaint and ensure his safety. Öğret emphasized the need for swift consequences for attacks on the press.
Response from Grey Wolves and Local Media
In a video statement, Oğuzer Akgün, the provincial head of the Grey Wolves in Çanakkale, appeared alongside Dinç and accused Yavaş of inciting the incident. Akgün claimed that the situation escalated into a brawl due to the journalist’s alleged provocations. He further accused Yavaş of being paid to make the critical Facebook post, an accusation that Yavaş denied. Akgün stated that Yavaş had been deliberately attempting to stir up trouble before the meeting with Dinç.
Çan’dan Haberler and CPJ’s Request for Comment
Çan’dan Haberler, with approximately 10,000 followers on Facebook, frequently shares news related to local political issues. CPJ reached out via email to the chief prosecutor’s office in Çanakkale for comment but did not receive a response.
CPJ reiterates the importance of a swift and comprehensive investigation into the assault on journalist Muhammed Yavaş. It calls for the safety of Yavaş to be guaranteed and emphasizes the need for accountability and consequences for attacks on the press in Turkey.