Opposition calls attack against Hakan ‘intimidation’ against press

Opposition calls attack against Hakan ‘intimidation’ against press

Opposition calls attack against Hakan ‘intimidation’ against press

Cihan Photo

Turkey’s opposition parties have dubbed the violent attack against Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan “an intimidation” for all press in the country, questioning whether the government planned to take any measures against deteriorating conditions for the media and rising attacks in the run-up to Nov. 1 snap elections.

Deputy Chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Sezgin Tanrıkulu filed a motion on Oct. 1, listing many questions addressed to the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

“Is the press being intimidated with the attack against journalist Ahmet Hakan following the announcement of a letter to the public by the honorary chairman of Doğan Holding, Mr. Aydın Doğan?” Tanrıkulu asked, referring to an open letter by Doğan to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan published in Hürriyet daily on Sept. 26.

Doğan’s letter was a response in “protecting his dignity,” after Erdoğan claimed on Sept. 22 that Doğan had once told him during a meeting at an Istanbul hotel years ago that “there were times when we made governments come and go.” In his “final statement” on the issue which was published on Oct. 1, the Doğan Holding honorary chairman said he did not want to continue the debate over President Erdoğan’s repeated criticism during the “painful period” that Turkey is going through. 

Tanrıkulu asked whether the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry didn’t have any responsibility because Hakan was repeatedly threatened through media outlets before the attack.

“The reprehensible attack against Ahmet Hakan is aimed at the freedom of press and everybody who doesn’t agree with the government,” Tanrıkulu said. He ask wondered if protection for the freedom of press was even wanted and asked what measures the government would take to prevent these types of attacks. 

The CHP deputy also recalled that AKP deputy Abrurrahim Boynukalın had explicitly threatened both Hakan and Hürriyet’s editor-in-chief, Sedat Ergin, saying “Our mistake was that we never beat them in the past.”

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also addressed the issue, voicing deep concern that the attack was “an organized” one.

A written statement released by the HDP on Oct. 1 was titled as “Attack against Ahmet Hakan is an intimidation against the media,” and was signed by both co-chairs of the party, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

“This attack is part of an ample environment of pressure on media and media workers in Turkey. In an environment in which the president directly engages in polemic with the media and makes serious accusations, a newspaper building is raided with company of a ruling party deputy, dissident journalists are fired and probes and cases against columnists are going on, this attack is unfortunately not unexpected,” Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ said. “The attacks’ being organized is concerning,” they said. “This gang-style attack is also a message to print, visual and audio media at the same time,” they underlined, dubbing the attack “an intimidation against press organizations and their workers who voice different views.”

The HDP leaders called on both the government and the president to “give up their stance of showing media and its workers as targets” and to take the attackers and the instigators in the Hakan incident to court.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chair Devlet Bahçeli condemned the attack in a series of tweets late Oct. 1 in which he criticized President Erdoğan.

"In a country under the hegemony of such a mentality, attacks on journalists can be seen normal and operations against freedom of thought and speech can be seen ordinary. I condemn the attack launched by raving, instigated urban thugs against journalist Ahmet Hakan," he said.