Turkish unions protest French police over journo injury

While covering protests in Paris, photojournalist Mustafa Yalcin was injured in eye after being hit by gas canister

Muhammed Ali Toruntay   | 09.12.2019
Turkish unions protest French police over journo injury


The Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-Is) on Monday held a demonstration in Ankara to protest French police, as an Anadolu Agency photojournalist was injured after being hit by a gas canister in Paris last week.

Mahmut Arslan, the chairman of Hak-Is, accused the French police of acting like "Hitler's gestapo" and of "resurrecting Nazism".

Members of the union gathered in front of the French embassy in Turkey’s capital Ankara to protest against the French police.

On Dec. 5, Mustafa Yalcin was injured in the eye when a gas canister used by the security forces hit him in the face breaking his mask during clashes between French police and demonstrators protesting controversial plans for pension reform.

In a statement, Arslan said that journalist Yalcin was covering the protests in accordance with international rules.

"Our friend, like other journalists, was wearing a helmet and was following the demonstrations far away from the protesters," Yalcin said.

Arslan stressed that the French police did not use gas canisters against the demonstrators. He said a number of journalists were directly targeted and deliberately bombed.

'Terror and violence against journalists'

"Because of this plastic bomb, Mustafa Yalcin's helmet was torn to pieces and his eye was hit.

"Some of the journalists, on the other hand, also got their legs injured. The violence of the police was directed to a Turkish journalist and two other journalists, which is a terror and violence against journalists," Arslan said.

Arslan said they would fight against this terrorism, adding this was a terror France has resorted to.

"Our friend tasked in that area was to take photos for Anadolu Agency and he was subjected to violence due to his affiliation with the agency.

"Because he is a Turkish journalist he was attacked, the police know about all the journalists in the field because there is a protest going on in Paris for a year," Arslan said.

"Macron is behind this, there is the French government behind this, and there is the French police acting like a gestapo," he said.

Arslan went on to say that they would raise their voice against the actions of France both in Turkey and abroad.

 'Who will take responsibility?'

Sezai Balli, chairman of Medya-Is Trade Union, also reminded that Yalcin was known for his iconic photo of a military salute performed by the Turkish national football team.

"Mustafa Yalcin took photographs by taking every precaution to follow the actions in France, wearing a gas mask and wearing his helmet to protect his head." Balli said.

"He will no longer be able to use his left eye. Who will take responsibility for this?

"How does France, who pontificates about human rights to the world, bring a journalist into this condition in its capital? We will pursue all kinds of legal rights of Mustafa," Balli added.

Yalcin was covering the clashes between French police and demonstrators against controversial plans for pension reforms when he was injured. Though he underwent a six-hour-long operation, Yalcin still faces the risk of permanent loss of eyesight.

On Friday, Senol Kazanci, chairman of the board and director general of Anadolu Agency, called on French authorities to investigate Yalcin's injury, saying the news agency would follow the process.

According to France’s Interior Ministry, 806,000 people took part in the protests, while labor unions put the number at nearly 1.5 million.

Service strikes impacted all public transport systems, according to local media reports.

*Writing by Dilara Hamit in Ankara

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