Feb 21 2019

Turkish police detains journalist who interviewed protester

The Turkish police on Thursday detained a journalist after she interviewed a woman who said she had been assaulted by police, Artı Gerçek reported.

Derya Okatan, a reporter for the website Artı Gerçek, was later released by the police that arrested her early on Thursday morning over her social media posts after interviewing a woman who said she had been molested while being detained by police during a small protest in Ankara on Saturday. 

Merve Demirel was detained while taking part in a small protest of three people in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Her detention created an outcry after images apparently showed a plainclothes police officer grabbing Demirel’s behind as she was bundled into a van. 

Ankara police on Tuesday issued a statement accusing Demirel of provoking security forces and said the student’s father was a member of the Gülen movement, a group accused of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt.

Turkish pro-government media also shared a video of the detention in an attempt to prove that the police officer did not assault the protester.

Ozlem Zengin, a lawmaker of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on Wednesday described the behaviour of the police officers as a mistake.

The Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Wednesday said the protester was being used by terrorist organisations. Soylu said Demirel’s father was linked to Gülen movement, while her brother was a member of far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C).

Demirel submitted an official complaint against the police officer on Thursday. 

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish opposition People's Democratic Party (HDP) and a well-known human rights activist with an Islamist background, has been following Demirel’s case with another Turkish lawmaker, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Gergerlioğlu on Thursday shared a video of himself with Demirel and Tanrıkulu in front of the Ankara courthouse. Gergerlioğlu said the police statement was trying to imply that it was normal to assault someone who is the daughter of a criminal.

“That’s unbelievable. You cannot assault someone even if he/she is a criminal, someone convicted by a court. You cannot assault this person’s daughter too. You cannot assault this person’s wife as well,” Gergerlioğlu said.