Turkey, journalists and activists protest in Istanbul and Ankara after the violent arrest of Bulent Kilic

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Three days after what happened at Pride in Istanbul, dozens of journalists gathered between Bosphorus city and the capital Ankara to protest. Bulent Kilic, an award-winning Turkish photojournalist, who works among others for the France Press Agency (AFP), was arrested and abused by the Erdogan regime police while photographing the pride in Istanbul. Together with journalists, activists for the defense of press freedom, a right almost always violated in Turkey, also took to the streets.

The country ranks 153 out of 180 countries in the ranking on freedom of expression. In recent years alone, after the failed coup in 2016, hundreds of journalists have been unjustly arrested, and today, for this reason, protests by journalists have exploded in Turkey. To say enough to the dictatorship and to ask for the unconditional release of all their colleagues.

Last Saturday, Kilic was doing nothing but his job. As can be seen from the photos he posted, documenting the police’ repressive attitude towards the LGBTQI community, during a Pride banned for the seventh consecutive year by Erdogan’s regime. There is nothing democratic in the attacks suffered by demonstrators, just as there is nothing democratic in the violence suffered by the journalist. The police violently crushed him to the ground with one knee pressed to his neck, which prevented him from breathing for a minute.

Those images went around the world sparking the indignation of many and Kilic decided, after being detained in the barracks for several hours, to file a complaint about “violent arrest”. Yesterday, in Ankara and Istanbul, dozens of journalists gathered in front of the buildings of the institutions. The AFP is also pressing for an investigation into what happened, ascertaining the responsibilities. The authorities must “give clear instructions to the security forces to put an end to these unacceptable and unjust practices before it is too late.” Erol Onderoglu, a representative in Turkey of Reporters Without Borders, stressed.

Bulent Kilic is also in front of the Istanbul Governor’s Office to make his voice heard with his colleagues and human rights activists. The purpose, as they write on social media, is to make the voice of professionals heard so that police violence during social events ceases. “For many years – underlines Engin Güneysu, a Turkish photographer who lives and works in Istanbul – journalists have not protested in any way.” To date, many have come down to protest against the terrible gesture suffered by the colleague.

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