The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of media executives, journalists and editors who advocate press freedom, has condemned the brutal police violence against Agence France-Presse (AFP) photojournalist Bülent Kılıç as he was covering the Pride March in Istanbul on June 26.
“Police violence against citizens, protestors and journalists covering public demonstrations has been intensified in recent years in Turkey, and has been given further cover by a police directive in April 2021 granting the power to stop anyone reporting on protests. Bülent Kılıç’s brutal detention while covering the Pride March was merely the clearest example of disproportionate use of force by the police,” IPI Turkey Programme Coordinator Renan Akyavaş said on June 28.
“No journalist’s safety can be risked due to police brutality. We stand in solidarity with Kılıç in his search for justice against police violence," Akyavaş said.
Kılıç was covering police brutality against the LGBTI+ community when he himself was subjected to minutes of violence and detained afterwards.
In a video shared on Twitter, Kılıç is seen surrounded by police officers with some of them pressing their knees into the photojournalist's back.
"I can't breathe," Kılıç was heard saying.
No journalist's safety can be risked due to police brutality@AFP photojournalist @Kilicbil was forcefully detained & left unable to breathe after being pushed to the floor by police while covering Pride March on Saturday. This is unacceptable.#FreeTurkeyJournalists! https://t.co/YqKcDEiCY8— IPI - The Global Network for Press Freedom (@globalfreemedia) June 28, 2021
After his testimony was taken at the police station, Kılıç was released.
The award-winning photographer later announced that he was going to file a criminal complaint against the police officers for disproportionate use of force.
On June 27, the Istanbul Police Department released a statement saying that Kılıç was "unfortunately" among those who were “caught while resisting the prevention of the illegal demonstration.”
It said that an investigation had been launched into the incident response to a complaint filed by Kılıç.
The statement also said that 46 people had been detained at the march and legal proceedings had been launched against them.