President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ultranationalist ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have turned down a parliamentary motion to investigate an assault on a Turkish journalist critical of the government, T24 news portal reported on Tuesday.
The motion put forward by the nationalist opposition Good Party (IP) was on Tuesday rejected by a majority in the Turkish parliament.
The IP’s motion requested a parliamentary investigation into the attack on Yavuz Selim Demirag, a columnist for Turkey’s nationalist Yenicag newspaper and a fierce critic of President Erdogan and his AKP government.
Last week, Demirag was beaten with baseball bats by a group of six people outside his house in Ankara following his appearance on a TV show where he criticized the Turkish President.
The six suspects, who were detained in relation to the attack, were released by the prosecution on the same day after they claimed: “It was a fight based on a vehicular dispute.”
IP on Tuesday announced on its official Twitter account that “the motion was not accepted due to dissenting votes by AKP and MHP.”
Luftu Turkkan, an IP deputy chairman and Kocaeli MP, took the floor on Tuesday to defend the motion prepared by his party.
Stating that the attack was carried out with the intent to kill Demirag, Turkkan argued: “The assailants were detained and released within the same day in order to intimidate the opposition.”
The IP MP accused Erdogan and his AKP government of supporting the attack on the dissident columnist.
“If you continue fueling the violence [targeting opposition], you cannot account for that in the face of people and [Turkey’s] history.”
Turkkan also warned Erdogan and senior members of AKP government, saying, “Be careful when you choose your discourse and don’t think that you’re not harmed by this tense atmosphere [in the country.]”
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), lashed out at the prosecutor who released Demirag’s assailants during his party’s group meeting in parliament on Tuesday.
“What would have happened if you were the one who was beaten with baseball bats? Since when is it that the sole requirement of an attempted lunching is the taking of suspects’ statements and then releasing them?” he said, addressing the prosecutor.
Pointing at the governing AKP, Kilicdaroglu also questioned: “Did this prosecutor receive orders from someone?”
Main opposition leader indicated that his party will also present a motion to investigate the incident.
Turkey, which ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, has been labeled the world leader in jailing journalists with 141 of them currently languishing in prison.
A report by the International Press Institute (IPI) says that 90% of Turkey’s media organs are currently under the influence of Erdogan’s AKP government.