The Tatvan (Tetwan) Municipality in the Bitlis (Bedlîs) province of eastern Turkey has decided to cancel a controversial auction contract amid allegations of irregularities. This move comes in the wake of a physical attack on journalist Sinan Aygül, who had been reporting on corruption in Bitlis and had recently exposed irregularities in property auctions conducted by Tatvan Municipality.
According to Aygül, the auction had already taken place, and a firm had successfully acquired the properties. However, the municipality unilaterally decided to cancel the auction on Monday. Aygül raised concerns about the cancellation, questioning why the municipality would take such action if the auction had been conducted properly. He argued that this development validates the accuracy of his reporting and the allegations made.
Commenting on the cancellation of the auction and the attack he faced, Aygül stated, “This situation clearly demonstrates that the conditions we criticised and deemed inappropriate were indeed present, despite our persistent objections. Public harm was done in this case. The lack of a competitive environment possibly led to the decision to cancel. This situation is indicative that our news reporting, allegations, and the things we stand for are indeed accurate.”
Aygül, president of the Bitlis Journalists’ Association, was subjected to a violent attack at the weekend by a police officer and a bodyguard accompanying Tatvan Mayor Mehmet Emin Geylani. The incident unfolded as Aygül was walking on the pavement when an individual sprinted towards him and started attacking. Disturbing CCTV footage captured the attack, showing Aygül being repeatedly punched while a person nearby attempted to intervene. Another individual, reportedly armed and believed to be a police officer, aggressively prevented the intervention, allowing the assault to continue.
Aygül has said that the attack was not only on him but also on journalists, press freedom, and the public’s right to information. According to the journalist, the incident reflected an attempt to suppress and intimidate those who strive to protect the interests of society and the public. His assailants, who approached him in broad daylight, armed with firearms and accompanied by police officers, indicated that this was not a simple act but rather a premeditated crime. Aygül firmly believes that Tatvan Mayor Geylani played a role in orchestrating the attack and has filed a criminal complaint against him.
The attack on Aygül, who has faced multiple detentions due to his news reporting on corruption, has sparked outrage and condemnation from various quarters. Following the attack, a police officer and a bodyguard of Tatvan Municipality were arrested after an administrative and criminal investigation was initiated.