The European Federation of Journalists today strongly condemned a gun attack and death threat to the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Africa and its editor Sener Levent on Friday evening.
The attack shocked the island’s media community and prompted trade unions and journalists’ groups in both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to join together to vigorously protest over this latest act of intimidation against one of the leading independent media voices.
“We join our colleagues in their expression of anger and outrage over this incident,” said Arne Konig, EFJ President. “This sort of intolerance and violent targeting of journalists makes no contribution to building peace or democracy. We condemn this violence and call on all sides to stand together to defend the rights of Africa newspaper and its journalists.”
At around 6.00 p.m. on Friday 25 of February unknown persons opened fire on the door of newspaper’s premises and left a threatening message for Sener Levent. It said “this time the shooting is against your office. The next time you make a mistake and continue to lie the shooting will not be like this, but against you. You will pay with your life”.
Levent and other journalists and staff were inside working at the time and one bullet hit the door and another one hit the wall.
Many Turkish Cypriot politicians visited Africa newspaper to express their solidarity and condemned the attack as unacceptable violation of press freedom. Yesterday the honorary president of the Union of Cyprus Journalists Andreas Kannaouros, the vice president Lenia Karatzia and Androula Georgiadou, a member of the Steering Committee of the EFJ, also visited the newspaper to show their solidarity.
“We will ensure that this incident is taken up at all levels in Europe, “said Konig. “We will not allow the tactics of terror and intimidation to undermine press freedom in the northern part of Cyprus.”
Speaking after the incident Sener said the purpose of the criminals was to terrify him and to silence dissident voices. But they would not succeed. He said that the attack was not unconnected with Africa’s critical line towards the policy of Turkey and its military occupation of Cyprus.
The EFJ says that Turkey must speak out over the attack and isolate those responsible. “We expect Turkey not just to issue trite declarations, but to genuinely respect the core values and fundamental human rights of press freedom and independent journalism,” said Konig.
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