On Friday evening, shortly after the appointment of the new trustee panel, crowds began to gather outside the paper’s headquarters in Istanbul in protest of the action. Police arrived on the scene soon after, dispersing the protesters with tear gas and water cannons. The police also reportedly forcibly entered the Zaman newspaper building by cutting through the iron-gated entrance.
On Saturday morning it was revealed that the Zaman editor-in-chief Abdülhamit Bilinci had been fired over-night, along with columnist Bülent Keneş. Crowds gathered again in the early morning hours to protest the government takeover of the paper, holding signs featuring the slogan “Free Press Cannot be Silenced.”
The protestors were met once again by police intervention with tear gas and water cannons, and many protesters were reportedly mildly injured.
Meanwhile, the Zaman newspaper released its first edition under the new administrative leadership on Sunday Morning, March 6.
The front page featured a picture of a smiling President Erdoğan and a story covering the special ceremony being held to celebrate the construction of İstanbul’s third major bridge, a project headed up by the AKP administration.
Notably absent from the paper’s first edition were the reports of police intervention following the protests outside the paper’s headquarters the day before. However, according to the Samanyolu news agency, the team behind the Zaman newspaper have reportedly started a new newspaper publication called Yarına Bakış.
The first edition of this new publications front page featured the headline “Armored vehicles, Tear Gas, and Plastic Bullets did not let up: Put them down immediately!” with an in-depth story on the protests and police intervention the previous two nights.
International press advocacy organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned the action, with Amnesty’s Turkey Expert Andrew Gardner stating that “By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights.”