Zaman reporter beaten, briefly detained by police at Gezi Park

A reporter from the Zaman daily, Emre Şencan, was beaten and briefly detained by the police while he was taking photos at Gezi Park near Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Sunday, which is the day that marks the second anniversary of the nationwide Gezi protests that erupted in late May 2013 over a government plan to destroy the park to build a shopping mall in its place.

Şencan said he was kicked by police officers in Gezi Park. Posting successive tweets via his Twitter account, Sencan wrote: “A short time ago, the police beat me in public. They continued to kick my testicles even though I said I am a reporter from Zaman. Sencan also shared a photo that displayed injuries he sustained from the police beating.

The attack against the Zaman reporter took place at approximately 10 a.m. on Sunday when police were removing people from the park. Sencan was beaten in the area where several journalists were also covering the removal of the people from the park.

The plainclothes police chief reportedly first targeted Sencan by saying, “Detain that man there who is taking photos as if he was a journalist.” Although Sencan told the police chief he was in fact a journalist and showed his journalism identity card to prove this, the police chief continued to beat Sencan severely.

According to the video footage, the police chief asked the journalist: “From where did you receive the order? Look, he [Sencan] came here with a gas mask.” He then used insulting words against Sencan. The police chief released Sencan after he stirred reactions from other journalists at the scene and some of his colleagues.

The beaten journalist was then taken to the SiSli Etfal Hospital for treatment. Sencan received a medical report to prove that he was physically attacked by the police chief and then went to the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint against the police chief who beat him.

Speaking to reporters, Sencan said he was taking photos on his cell phone, after which the police chief came and seized his phone, even after he told him that he was a journalist. He further said he could not find out the name of the police chief who assaulted at him, but the police chief can be identified in the video.

The police took strict security measures around the park and Taksim Square on Sunday. People’s access to Gezi Park and Taksim Square was prohibited by the authorities.

The İstanbul Police Department also closed major roads leading to Taksim Square as of 9 a.m.

The nationwide Gezi protests erupted in May of 2013, initially over the plan to demolish Gezi Park, and quickly became a wider protest movement, in which millions of people took to the streets across the country to protest the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The government has labeled the protests a “coup attempt.”