Turkish Riot Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannon and Plastic Bullets to Disperse Protest

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish police have used tear gas, a water cannon, and plastic bullets to disperse a protest against the imprisonment of nine journalists from the secularist opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet.

Turkish police use water cannon to disperse crowds protesting arrests of journalists (Photo courtesy of Newsweek)

The protest took place hours after nine journalists were formally arrested. Approximately 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside a mosque in central Istanbul, shouting slogans denouncing the “fascist” state and vowing not to remain silent. Riot police sprayed freezing water from trucks, fired plastic bullets and used tear gas in an attempt to prevent crowds of protestors from marching to the offices of the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The nine arrested individuals include some of the most prolific journalists of the Turkish press. They were detained as part of an intensifying crackdown on oppositionists by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Following the arrests, the Turkish courts ordered a media blackout, prohibiting the press from reporting on the detention of Cumhuriyet journalists. The newspaper is known for being one of the few media outlets still critical of President Erdogan. Its reporters are suspected of crimes committed on behalf of Kurdish militants and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the coup attempt.

The arrests come after the shutdown of over 100 media outlets and detention of dozens of journalists following July’s failed coup attempt. Prominent Turkish journalist, Can Dundar, declared his outrage over the current administration by stating “our ‘crime’ is our writing, our headlines, our news. We will write again. We will write even more…” The government has stated that the crackdown is necessary to identify terrorists, whereas critics of President Erdogan state that he is using the coup as an attempt to defeat the opposition. Recently arrested politicians stated that they are victims of a “civilian coup by the government and the palace.” Furthermore, the head of Turkey’s main opposition party outraged “What are you trying to do? Are you trying to create a Turkey where everyone is in jail?”

The recent wave of opposition arrests has sparked concern among Turkey’s allies. The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief stated that she was “extremely worried” over the detentions. The U.S. State Department spokesman noted that there was a “worrisome trend” in Turkey over limiting freedom of speech.

For more information, please see:

The Guardian—Turkish police use water cannon to disperse protest over journalists’ arrests—5 November 2016

Newsweek—Protesters clash with Turkish authorities in continuing crackdown—5 November 2016

The Independent—Turkish police use water cannon and tear gas to disperse protest against arrest of journalists—5 November 2016

BBC News—Turkey coup aftermath: Pro-Kurdish Istanbul protests broken up—5 November 2016




Author: Yesim Usluca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *