Turkish politician assaulted after interior minister ‘targets’ him - party statement

An unidentified group of assailants attacked Turkish Workers Party (TİP) vice president Barış Atay hours after Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu “targeted” him on social media, Atay’s party said in a statement on Monday.

“Barış Atay, our vice president, who was targeted by Süleyman Soylu during the day, was attacked by an “unidentified” group tonight,” the left-wing TİP said on Twitter. “Our comrade of peace is in good health.”

A group of five attackers threw Atay to the ground and repeatedly kicked him as the TİP Hatay deputy was leaving an undisclosed location in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district early Monday, T24 reported. He was taken to Haydarpaşa Numune Hospital where he is being treated for fractured ribs and trauma, it said.

Hours before the attack, Atay slammed Soylu after Turkish authorities released Musa Orhan, a suspect charged with “qualified sexual assault”. After his release, Orhan’s 18-year-old victim, İpek Er, later committed suicide.

“You protected a serial rapist,” Atay said in a Twitter post tagging Soylu. “We will strive to hit you in the face at every opportunity in your life to make you never forget.”

Soylu reposted Atay’s tweet, calling him a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) at the behest of “rapist” leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group fighting a decades-long insurgency against Turkey.

“Be careful! Do not get caught,” the minister said.

Atay was an HDP parliamentary candidate during the 2018 general elections. He was elected as a deputy for Turkey’s southernmost Hatay province. He switched to the TİP three months later.

Atay, a day after the attack, said ''where were we'', mentioning Soylu.

According to the T24 report, Atay in a testimony to the police, said it was Suleyman Soylu who quoted my criticism towards him [via his twitter], who is responsible for the incident." 

Istanbul independent deputy Ahmet Şik, who went to visit Atay at the hospital, said he did not think the attack was coincidental.

"We don't think it's coincidental, it's an incident that happened after Soylu’s “attention-grabbing” remark,” Şik told T24. “As soon as he (Atay) enters an alley after the place where he left off, we think he is followed and attacked."

Two months ago, the TİP said Atay’s car was sabotaged in an apparent attempt to cause the vehicle to crash. The party said a preliminary investigation indicated his car had been tampered with by loosening five bolts on the right front wheel of the vehicle.