ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, Turkish riot police stormed the offices of Koza Ipek Holding, a media group in Istanbul housing the Bugun TV channel and the Bugun and Millet newspapers.
“Dear viewers,” a Bugun TV anchor casually announced during the early morning broadcast, “do not be surprised if you see police in our studio in the upcoming minutes.” Outside, police were leading journalists away in handcuffs, while citizens — many of them journalists who worked in the building — protested the dawn raid as police attempted to disperse the growing crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Scenes of riot police suddenly and forcefully storming media outlets perceived to be critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have become increasingly common in Turkey. In June the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 percent of the vote in the Parliamentary election, thereby surpassing the 10 percent electoral threshold needed for Parliamentary representation and taking away seats from President Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Since then, Turkey has experienced a significant uptick in attacks on media outlets viewed as sympathetic to the opposition parties, in particular the pro-Kurdish parties. The Koza Ipek Holding media group is affiliated with Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric and arch-rival of President Erdogan.