Two female journalists say they were subjected to sexual, verbal and physical abuse by Turkish police for their coverage of nation-wide demonstrations against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, local media says. Derya Oktan, 32, and Arzu Demir, 39, said that police raided the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) bureau on June 18 as part of its operations during last month’s nationwide protests, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported on Wednesday. Otkan said police officers entered the building at 4:30 a.m., taking photograph archives, press cards, recorders, and even the kitchen equipment. She also said that a female officer took her to the bathroom and took off her clothes and hand-searched her.
“When I objected, she said, ‘What did I do? Did I torture you? Did I put handcuffs on you?’ as if nothing happened,” Otkan added.The two women said the search continued until 6 p.m. Demonstrations erupted in late May after police broke up a sit-in at Istanbul's Taksim Square in protest against a proposal to demolish Gezi Park. The violence turned into nationwide demonstrations against the ruling Justice and Development Party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with police using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators. Erdogan, whose government is the main target of protests, has described the demonstrators as foreign-backed extremists and terrorists. Earlier reports said that plainclothesmen have attacked anti-government protesters with knives, machetes and sticks in several Turkish cities. SAB/PR