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Protesters permanently blinded by riot police bullets

15 July 2013

The Association of Photographers has issued a report which says that 111 photographers were detained, targeted by violence or had their photos erased by the police during the demos in Istanbul and Ankara between May 31 and July 8.

The report, which collects the testimonies of many press and documentary photographers, said that the main injuries came from gas canisters and rubber bullets fired by the police during their repeated violent interventions. Many photographers also complained that their cameras had been broken or pictures erased.

The report also stressed that the yellow press cards did not prevent, in most cases, the detention of photojournalists. Contrary to many European countries, press cards are delivered by a Prime Ministerial Office in Turkey.

The report also relates the experience of Mehmet Kacmaz of the Nar photo agency, who underwent surgery after he was hit in the eyes by an object that couldn’t be identified.

“As I saw a [police] panzer passing in front of us, I turned my back and the barrel was then directed at us. Just as I turned to [the panzer] I heard a noise. Like a ball hitting wood. I held my eye. When I saw blood spilling, I understood I was wounded,” he said.

The injury did not cause permanent injury to the photographer, but around a dozen protesters have lost their sight in at least one eye due to projectiles fired by the police that hit their eyes.

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