The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, journalists and media executives for press freedom, condemns the instances of violence and obstruction targeting journalists during the second round of presidential elections in Turkey on May 28, 2023. The attacks and hindrances against journalists are a blatant violation of press freedom and undermine the fundamental democratic principles that elections are built upon.

According to local news reports, several journalists were hindered and attacked on election day.

Sultan Eylem Keleş, a reporter from KRT TV, was prevented from covering the voting process at the Kadıköy Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School in Istanbul by the school’s administrator, who is also an AKP council member from the Kadıköy Municipality. Keleş gave a statement to the police and noted that she will press charges.

Fatoş Erdoğan, a reporter with dokuz8haber, was physically attacked by an AKP-affiliated school administrator while reporting on the elections from the Ahmet Çuhadaroğlu Middle School in Istanbul’s Hürriyet district. The attacker and other AKP members were seen making the Rabia sign, which has been one of the trademark hand signs of President Erdoğan in the 2010s.

Anıl Cengiz Bölükbaş, a reporter with Artı Gerçek, was covering the counting of votes at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce when he was forcefully carried out from the building by the police and prevented from entering again.

Another reporter, Öznur Değer from JINNEWS, was prevented from covering the voting process at the Sıtkı Türkoğlu Primary School in Mardin’s Kızıltepe district by the bodyguards of Faruk Kılıç, an AKP Member of Parliament. After being subjected to threats and insults, Değer went to the police station to file a complaint, but the police officers confiscated her phone upon the AKP official’s request.

Violence also broke out at a ballot box in Şanlıurfa’s Haliliye district where a delegation of opposition Green Left Party members were beaten by an unidentified group of people. Ömer Akın, a camera operator with the Mezopotamya Agency (MA) covering the outbreak of violence, was reportedly attacked and his camera was broken to pieces.

In another southeastern province of Turkey, Batman, journalist Vedat Aker was detainedwhile covering the street celebrations taking place in the evening hours of the election day. Aker was reportedly taken by the police while filming the detention of several dozen people during the celebrations for yet unclear reasons. Aker was reportedly released the same day.

“These attacks and hindrances against journalists on election day are a violation of press freedom and are a reminder of the repression that independent media regularly face in Turkey, casting in doubt the fairness of Turkey’s latest elections”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. He added: “IPI stands in solidarity with the journalists affected by these violations and reiterates its call on the government to end the country’s crackdown on independent journalism and respect press freedom as an essential element of democracy.”