The police force simply watched while the events were developing and afterwards told Kanatli "What were you doing there? You should not have been photographing". After the attack, Kanatli went to Nicosia Police Headquarters and filed a complaint about the attack and that his memory card was stolen.
Yenicag is a weekly newspaper published in the northern part of Cyprus, the weekly paper of YBH (Patriotic Unity Movement). YBH is highly critical of the regime in the north and has recently taken Turkey to the European Human Rights Court for changing the demographic structure of the northern part of the island by bringing in thousands of settlers and giving out `citizenship` to tens of thousands of people from Turkey without even setting foot on the island.
How did the events develop?
"Gray Wolves" carried out a protest in Nicosia to"protest the intervention of EU and USA in TRNC elections". They first stopped at the American embassy then walked to the Ledra Palace check point where they read a press declaration. Afterwards, they stopped by the "Martyrs Memorial" and Africa newspaper and prayed and chanted.
"Gray Wolves are here, where are the traitors?", "Gray Wolves are here, where are the infidels", "No to EU, Turan in your face!" (Turan is the "ideal" of the grand Turkish homeland", "Greeks are dogs and will always be dogs", "The army of Gray Wolves, the fear of traitors", "EU do not try our patience" were some of their slogans.
During the protest, the police watched everything without any shields or batons (which they commonly use against the pro-peace demonstrations).
Finally, they went to the Nicosia center of their association where a representative gave a speech. Genc TV, NTV, BRT, Avraysa , Kibris and Yenicag were the media outlets that were in attendance. Murat Kanatli was photographing the event as Yenicag Editor.
After he left the building, while walking in the street he was attacked by a group of 20-30 gray wolves. They pushed him around and hit him on his head and shoulders and took away his camera. The police force which was observing this event did not take any action and told Kanatli "What were you doing there? You should not have been photographing." After Kanatli asked the police to retrieve his camera, the body was returned but the memory card was stolen.
Filed a complaint with the police
Murat Kanatli then proceeded to the Nicosia Police Headquarters and filed a complaint that members of the Gray Wolves (Ulku Ocaklari) Association members had beaten him up and took his belongings.
Head of Press Workers Union (BASIN-SEN) Kemal Darbaz also went to the police and asked them to go after the culprits. In his press release, Darbaz said "We strongly condemn the attack against journalist Murat Kanatli. In reality, this is a result of certain circles who have been exploiting the 'Turkish vs Cypriot distinction' and looking for trouble for their political purposes.
Of course, they are also trying to pull the struggle of Turkish Cypriot public for a solution and EU membership towards other directions. It is a provocation in an effort to divert the public attention. The police should not take this lightly and consider it as a major event. Only this could stop similar circles from carrying out similar attacks.`
Other media outlets such as Kibris newspaper and SIM FM also were in attendance in the police headquarters. Darbaz also pointed out that attacks on those defending peace and democracy have been on the rise and the police should take proper action. Kanatli then went to the hospital with the police and obtained a medical report that he has been beaten up.
What did Kanatli say?
Kanatli made an announcement to the press. He said that he did not carry anything provocative and did not speak to anyone that could have triggered this. Despite of this, he was attacked violently.
He also said:"This once more shows that some paramilitary organizations are once again active. Even though, we did not have any dialogue, I was attacked violently. This shows, like Tanil Bora pointed out in his book "Devlet-Ocak-Dergah" that violence is an inherent part of Gray Wolf mentality. They attack those that they consider as "enemy" without any reason. We announce that we do not accept such violence and we are against any form of violence. We will not reply to violence with violence. We will continue our struggle using all our democratic and legal rights."
Erhan Arikli on the scene
Erhan Arikli, who is the `leader` of the Gray Wolves had been directing the demonstration and the attack against journalist Murat Kanatli. There has been reports in the media that Interpol is looking for Arikli, due to his involvement in the killing of Tassos Isaac on the Green Line back in 1996 by Gray Wolves. Prior to the assassination of the Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali in 1996, Arikli wrote threatening commentaries in the media.
He has been leading a psychological terror campaign against journalists defending peace in the media and in several of his articles openly threatens to `torture and kill` journalists. Erhan Arikli travels often to Azerbaijan and has also connections with Chechenia.
Hasan Keskin, a columnist with the newspaper Volkan, published by an organization close to Denktash, criticised Afrika on 23 July for supporting the UN-proposed reunification plan.
He said Afrika journalists had betrayed their country and that it was "halal" (legitimate) to drink their blood. He was also present during the Gray Wolves demonstration. Erhan Arikli also detailed how he will torture and kill `100 of progressives` in case there is a solution of the Cyprus problem.
`100 of you will not see the day the peace agreement is signed on the island...
We will make you eat each and every article you've written...We will torture you, estinguish our cigarettes on you, take out your nails, hit you and then give you to the Turkish soldiers to do what they like with you...` Arikli said in his `Warning to the traitors` in November 2001.
Arikli is a member of groups related to Gray Wolves of Turkey. He had admitted to being part of the crowd that participated in the killing of two Greek Cypriots on the Green Line in 1996. Recently he has surfaced as the head of an association called `Turkish Union` (Turk-Bir) which has released threatening declarations in the past against individuals and organizations. He also proudly admits a history of fighting against leftist groups in Turkey during 70s alongside the Gray Wolves. Currently he is the General Secretary of MAP (Nationalist Justice Party), a fascist party in the northern part of Cyprus. In his November 2001 article, Arikli detailed what sort of torture he would make progressives go through...
Both Kibrisli in the past and Volkan now have issued `articles` threatening of turturing and killing these journalists, of breaking their arms and legs, of shooting them `like dogs in the street` and calling on fascist organizations to `deal with them` and spreading slander and professionally manipulated campaigns of lies about journalists.
Threat at the university
Near East University in Nicosia was also threatened by Gray Wolves and had to cancel an event where Turkish writer Mehmet Altan would be speaking about the Cyprus problem. Mehmet Altan who had been writing articles for the solution of the Cyprus problem in the mainstream Turkish media had been invited by the Cyprus Trade Unions Confederation to Cyprus to speak about the solution of the problem. After the threat at the Near East University by Gray Wolves, the event was moved to the Teachers Trade Union offices in Nicosia. The event took place tonight at KTOS building...
Earlier this month, on the 5th of October, Gray Wolves staged a demonstration against Africa newspaper which is very critical of the regime and the Turkish military forces in the north. They shouted slogans and death threats in front of the newspaper's offices in Nicosia...
Turkey is responsible for the north
Recently the European Court of Human Rights, had stressed the dominance of Turkey in northern part of Cyprus at its decision number 20652/92 in the case brought to the court by Ahmet Cavit An against Turkey.
The decision was the following: "It was not necessary to determine whether Turkey actually exercised detailed control over the policies and actions of the 'TRNC' authorities. It was obvious from the large number of troops engaged in active duties in northern Cyprus that the Turkish army exercised effective control over that part of the island. Such control entailed her responsibility for the policies and actions of the 'TRNC''
Therefore Turkey is also responsible for the conditions where journalists in the north have to exercise their profession with lack of democracy, human rights and under constant death threats. (NM)