Istanbul watchmen attack journalists reporting on missing toddler

Local night watchmen assaulted journalists who were reporting on a missing toddler in front of an apartment in Istanbul's Beylikdüzü district on last night, Duvar English reported on Wednesday. 

Reporters Ahmet Yeşilmen and Kubilay Özev from the Demirören News Agency (DHA) and Erdal Can İçelli from the İhlas News Agency (İHA) were attacked by watchmen while trying to cover the search for three year old Zümra Nur. Yeşilmen was recording footage on his phone when one of the watchmen smacked away his device. He and İçelli protested their harassment, which did little to prevent the watchmen from abusing them further.

Yeşilmen shared a portion of the encounter on his Twitter account after the incident. 

"I, my cameraman Kubilay Özev and UAV reporter Erdal Can İçelli were attacked by the guards at the place where we were to report on Zümra Nur, who disappeared last night in Beylikdüzü and then lost her life in the hospital where she was taken," Yeşilmen wrote, ending his tweet with the hashtag "Journalism is not a crime." 

Nur had gone missing in front of the apartment building she lived in with her family, was later found in the elevator shaft and died in the hospital on Tuesday evening. 

Local night watchmen in Turkey have drawn concern from observers who fear that the group will be used to enhance the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan authoritarian leadership. The ruling government abolished these groups after 2008, but revived them after the failed coup in July 2016. Erdoğan's Justice and Development (AKP) passed a law that would arm members, who previously only carried whistles and batons, in a highly contentious move in June 2020. 

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