An exile from Turkey has been attacked and battered in Wales by a group of people three days after he informed the police that his name was on a hit list targeting journalists and authors from Turkey, most of whom are in self-imposed exile, and all of whom are critics of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Gökhan Yavuzel, a novelist and poet, and member of the UK-based PEN International, moved to Wales in 2018 after a smear campaign and threats received in Turkey. When his name was included in a hit list posted on a Twitter account named “jitemkurt” recently, he informed his local police station.
Yavuzel said the four people who attacked him spoke Turkish and that they swore at him during the beating.
Speaking to the online journal Artı Gerçek, Yavuzel said that he was attacked in a secluded place in a park near his home. “Someone hit me in the back first” he said. “I think there were four of them. They started kicking me in the back when I fell down. I passed out for a moment. They were all swearing at me. They were speaking in Turkish. They made threats, saying, ‘The time will come for the others too’. They swore at me, calling me ‘stateless’ and ‘contemptible’. They said, ‘We could kill all of you if we wanted. You deserve much worse than this.’ Then I received a hard blow to the eye, and another one to my left eyebrow. I tried to block their blows with my hands. One of them had a small club.”
Yavuzel posted a message on Twitter right after the attack: “I was attacked by four people today. Police came, then an ambulance. After making a statement at the police station I was dropped off at my house. There are bruises on my back too… You creeps who have made us into targets in the media with this ‘hit list’; you’re going to pay for this.”
On 8 July, Erk Acarer, a journalist in self-imposed exile from Turkey, was attacked and beaten in the garden of his home in Berlin, Germany. Following this, on 16 July, German police visited journalist Celal Başlangıç in his Frankfurt home to warn him about the hit list targeting journalists and authors from Turkey.