Istanbul mayoral re-run brings thug attacks
Five attacks on Turkish opposition journalists have been reported ahead of the rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election on June 23.
An ultra-nationalist party aligned to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is purportedly the perpetrator of the recent violence.
The government has labelled opposition journalists and politicians as terrorists or traitors and failed to punish the attackers.
The purge after the botched July 2016 coup saw more than 150 media outlets closed down by the authorities. Turkey tops international lists for the number of journalists in prison.
Hundreds of journalists have faced the sack at pro-government media firms for criticising the AKP.
Journalist Sedef Kabas, one of more than 12,000 Turks prosecuted for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was in late May handed an 11-month prison sentence. During a microphone mix-up, Haksever said a newly developed island, Yassıada in the Marmara Sea, was a disgusting mess of concrete, stripped of its vegetation. Erdogan had visited the island days earlier.
In an apology, Haksever said he had been criticising the contractors rather than the president who had given his approval for the development.
Assaulted Antalya newspaper editor Idris Ozyol said he partly blamed Erdogan for the violence. Ozyol, who said the police refused to charge his assailants, told The Times: “He says journalists are terrorists, artists are terrorists, farmers are terrorists.
“So we have two sides in Turkey; one side is the terrorists, the other side his people. When he makes these statements the people who are with him become more barbarous.”
In Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayoral candidate from the secular opposition CHP, won by 14,000 votes of 8 million in total. The AKP claimed fraud.
Polls suggest the AKP is trailing the CHP. “When they lose Istanbul it’ll be a crash inside the AKP,” Ozyol added.
Istanbul is key to Turkey’s economy and politics. It was the gateway to the presidency for Erdogan and provides a third of Turkish GDP.
After a credit-fuelled boom led to bust, many Turks switched to the dollar, sending foreign exchange deposits and funds rising to a record US$182 billion in May.
The lira slumped by around 37 per cent since January last year, pushing the economy into recession. Property and construction corporations borrowed in dollars and now face an estimated US$200 billion in loans.
Unemployment has reached a decade-high of 14.7 per cent and the cost of imported goods is rising.
The government has blamed rising food prices on farmers pushing up the price of vegetables.
The cult of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be unravelling. Picture credit: Flickr