Kurdish author Gökhan Yavuzel, who has been living in exile in Wales, announced on his Twitter account on Monday that he was attacked near his house in Cardiff.
The writer’s name was reported to be on a ‘hit list’ targeting critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Yavuzel had to leave Turkey after the smear campaigns and threats he received in 2018 and sought asylum in Wales.
Yavuzel spoke to Yeni Özgür Politika regarding the attack. “I was walking next to a river near my home after leaving home for some shopping. At a quiet corner enclosed by trees, someone struck me, without warning, hitting my eye. I was shocked. I found myself on the ground, I do not even recall how I felt. Then they kept kicking me, verbally abusing me at the same time.”
Yavuzel noted that the attackers spoke English with strong Turkish accents, accusing him of being a ‘traitor to the nation’.
“Everybody’s turn will come, they said. I saw one of them, but since he had a mask on and a hat I could not really see what he looked like. Then I passed out. When I woke up, the police were standing over me.”
He explained that he was previously targeted by several smear campaigns on social media.
“Six months ago, some people who spoke English with British accents and identified themselves as the police called me. They told me I had a warrant against me from Turkey on charges of terrorism and they wanted to have a meeting with me about such allegations.”
These people calling Yavuzel asked for the address of his home, so he got suspicious. “When I informed my lawyer about the calls, he said it did not seem to be like an official procedure at all. So I changed my phone number and I stayed at a friend’s for a while.”
But changing residence and phone number was not enough for these people calling him to lose track of him.
“They then called my friend, saying to my friend, ‘We need to reach Gökhan, do you know where he is?’ So we then filed a report to the police, but the police told us there was nothing they could do unless someone actually physically attacked me.”
After the attack the Welsh police had an attitude almost accusing Yılmazer for the assault he was subjected to, telling him, “You left home out of the hours we agreed on and you did not let us know when you left.”
After all of this Yavuzel concluded, “This was a pre-planned assault. The gravity of the issue is obvious. This was not a random attack. If they had wanted to, they would have killed me.”
“This attack was not a personal thing, simply targeting myself individually, but this was an attack against all of us. So it is time for us all to unite and act together.”