EFJ Protests over Attack on Journalist in Northern Part of Cyprus

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today condemned the attack on Huseyin Chakmak, a cartoonist and columnist for Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika.

Chakmak, President of the Association of Turkish Cypriot Cartoonists, a famous cartoonist who is well known for his struggles for freedom of expression and the reunification of Cyprus and cooperation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, was attacked on 31 January by nationalists who were upset by his articles and ideas, according to the Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ).

“This incident shows that freedom of expression is under attack in the northern part of Cyprus,” said EFJ Chair Arne König. “We are supporting our colleague Huseyin Chakmak and his right to express his views in print and for all journalists in northern Cyprus to write and report independently.”

Afrika has had faced problems in the past for its publication of stories on political topics. Its offices were bombed twice and its editor, Shener Levent, was convicted many times by military courts and spent two months in prison. Last April the Turkish government started legal proceedings against Turkish Cypriot journalist Serhat Incirli for criticizing Turkey in an article in Afrika, but after strong public outcry the procedure was dropped.

In the recent incident, Chakmak, was walking in a neighborhood in the Turkish Cypriot sector of Nicosia, when a group of men threw stones and tomatoes at him. The cartoonist wrote down the license plate number on their car and gave it to the Turkish Cypriot police who told him they could not reveal the names of the attackers.

Chakmak has previously been threatened by fascists, the regime and the Turkish army in the northern part of Cyprus, the UCJ said. The union condemned the latest attack on Chakmak, which it said “is an attack directly against press freedom,” and expressed its solidarity with the journalists working for Afrika.

The EFJ is calling on Turkish Cypriot police to bring the attackers in this case to justice and to ensure that any further threats against Chakmak or other Afrika staff are fully investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.

For more information contact the EFJ at 32 2 235 2200

The EFJ represents over 260.000 journalists in over 30 countries