Gökhan Biçici is a reporter and editor for İMC TV who was subjected to police violence during the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Arrested on 16 June 2013 while documenting the excessive force used by police against protesters in Istanbul, Biçici was beaten severely by police before being dragged through the streets. Observers in apartments overlooking his arrest captured footage of the attack, which went viral on social media within a matter of hours.
Gökhan Biçici gave a detailed account of the torture and other ill-treatment he was subjected to to PEN, which was published in a recent PEN report on the Gezi Park protests.
Biçici submitted an official complaint to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office in June 2013 regarding his treatment at the hands of the police. The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office has since dropped its investigation into the case, citing an inability to identify the police officers involved in the attack.
The decision conforms to a pattern of impunity in cases involving police attacks on journalists during last summer’s protests. Other prominent journalists who were also victims of attack, such as PEN main case and UNESCO 2014 World Press Freedom Prize winner Ahmet Şık, have also had their complaints ignored. According to statistics gathered by Bianet, 153 journalists were attacked by security forces during the 2013 protests.
PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to:
- Initiate a comprehensive review of the use of excessive force by security forces against journalists during the protests;
- Bring disciplinary and, where appropriate, legal action against any law enforcement officials found to have tortured or otherwise ill-treated journalists, including Gökhan Biçici, so that police violence is not met with impunity;
- Conduct a comprehensive review of police regulations and training with regard to the treatment of journalists, their property and materials during demonstrations;
- Revise law enforcement officials’ code of conduct so that journalists’ right to safely report during protests is fully respected in future.
Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:
President Abdullah Gül
T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreterliği
Fax: +90 312 470 24 33
Twitter: @cbabdullahgul (Use the hashtag #PENGezi)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Başbakanlık Merkez Bina
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
Twitter: @RT_Erdogan (Use the hashtag #PENGezi)
And copy to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. You can find embassy addresses here
Background on the Gezi Park Protests:
In March 2014, PEN International and English PEN published a joint report titled ‘The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’. PEN assessed the violations of the right to freedom of expression and to freedom of assembly during summer 2013’s protests, detailing numerous examples of intimidation, judicial harassment and violence against writers and journalists by authorities in Turkey, and shedding light on the mechanisms by which the mainstream media is pushed towards self-censorship.
Background on Gӧkhan Biçici
Biçici is a journalist who has worked in the media in Turkey since the late 1990s. He was a reporter for the Evrensel newspaper from 1999-2001 before working in media relations for the agricultural worker’s trade union Gıda İş. In 2006 he founded the Centre for Social Research and Education (TAREM) with a group of academics, journalists, trade unionists and human rights activists, where he continues to work as the organisation’s general coordinator. In 2007 he launched an online news website, EmekDunyasi.net. Since 2011 he has hosted various news shows for İMC TV.
For further details please contact Alev Yaman, Turkey Researcher/Campaigner, Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: email@example.com