The İstanbul Governor’s Office has prevented an investigation into police officers who allegedly used disproportionate force while detaining protestors and journalists during an event in May marking the ninth anniversary of the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul, the Kronos news website reported.
A protest was held in İstanbul’s Taksim Square on May 31 to mark the ninth anniversary of the Gezi Park protests, which erupted in 2013 over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. The protests quickly turned into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, leading to the death of 11 protestors due to use of disproportionate force by the police.
The İstanbul Governor’s Office has decided that there is no need to investigate claims of the use of disproportionate force during the detention of the protestors and journalists in Taksim on this year’s anniversary.
The İstanbul police not only forcefully detained some of the protestors but also also journalists from the anti-government Halk TV station and Evrensel and Birgün newspapers who were in the area to follow the event. The journalists were forced to sit in handcuffs for hours.
The journalists filed a criminal complaint against the police at the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on June 3, accusing them of misconduct, issuing threats, maltreatment, insult, injury and depriving a person of their right to engage in work. The prosecutor’s office contacted the İstanbul Governor’s Office asking it to identify the police officers and allow it to investigate them.
The governor’s office said an investigation was not necessary.
The decision has attracted criticism from the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), which found it unacceptable and said it encourages more attacks on the journalists.
The TGS said it will resort to legal measures to make it possible for journalists to do their job and for the public to access news.
In Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, journalists are frequently subjected to maltreatment from the police and face legal harassment for simply doing their job.
Turkey was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index.