Those who seek prestige in luxury palaces rather than democracy have experienced great shame this week. The repressive circles which secured a decision for the arrest of Hidayet Karaca, head of Samanyolu Broadcast Group, and the detention of Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, for five days, have disgraced themselves. They are now left lonely in the world; the international community and the media extend overwhelming support to the honorable and peaceful struggle by their targets.
Our reckless administrators, who have a serious problem of credibility, declared 2014 a European Union year on the one hand; but they now raise their voice against the EU, which strongly opposed the revenge operation against the media on Dec. 14. They argue that they are fighting corruption; but they are trying to cover up the greatest corruption scandal in Turkey's history by relying on illegal operations. They argue they are religious Muslims, but they do not observe Islamic rules and precepts when trying to crush their opponents. Who would respect such a hypocritical stance?
The group, which is now implementing the plans they previously drafted to eliminate the Hizmet movement after the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption and bribery operation, is doing this with feelings of hatred. They do not hesitate to declare one of the most peaceful initiatives in the world a terror organization. In addition, while staging their plots, they undermine the institution of justice and the country's interests as well. As underlined by Dumanlı, we just turn back their allegations against opposition groups onto them, who terrorize their own people and media.
The independent judiciary was taken under the control of the partisan powers that be; because of this, diplomatic bodies experience serious difficulties. Diplomats whose salaries are paid with tax monies are forced to defend this nonsense abroad. Foreign public relations firms are hired to justify these illegal actions. However, being a good diplomat or an influential public relations body will not be sufficient to justify these wrongs in the eyes of the Western states, you have to be a magician for this to happen.
The mainstream media outlets in the US strongly criticized the Dec. 14 operation against the media. The New York Times argued that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was acting like a victim of paranoia. The daily was sarcastic of the “parallel state” discourse Erdoğan employed and further defined him as an authoritarian leader who lives in a parallel universe. In its editorial, The Wall Street Journal defined the move as a silencing of the press and government opponents, in addition to being a reckless move towards authoritarianism; and further called for US President Barack Obama's involvement and for him to raise his voice against Erdoğan's abuses. Both papers also found the operation interesting because it coincided with the first anniversary of the Dec. 17 operation.
The representatives of the Obama administration made even stronger statements and criticisms last week; in the first written statement by spokesperson Jen Psaki, there was nothing stating that they were concerned about the situation. In a subsequent press conference, Psaki stressed that they were gravely concerned about the situation and reminded Ankara of the importance of commitment to press freedom, the supremacy of law and fair trials. There was also diplomatic advice for Erdoğan, who tends to define every opponent as traitor or conspirator, in the sentence, “Raising opposition does not mean conspiracy or treason.”
The reactions by the US Congress were clear and stronger than the responses by the executive branch, which has its strategic relations with Turkey to consider. A number of influential politicians, including Republican Senator John McCain, condemned media repression and Erdoğan. A total of 20 representatives from the House of Representatives also expressed their reaction in a letter addressed to Obama or Kerry. The joint declaration Friday by the four co-chairmen of the Turkish-American Friendship Group in Congress where they condemned assaults on media freedom is particularly important. It should be noted that the group was established by the strong efforts of the Turkish government and includes Turkey-friendly representatives; but its reaction to what happened in Turkey is bad news for Ankara given that next year is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Will US repatriate Gülen?
The arrest warrant issued for Fethullah Gülen, who currently lives in the US, will contribute to the gravity of the current illegality; by this move, this ridiculous operation will gain an international dimension. Observers in Washington believe the motion for repatriation of Gülen is based on political motives and that the American legal system will not honor this request.
Besides, why would the US repatriate Gülen, one of the leading pacifist and nonviolent opinion leaders in the world, because of allegations that he conspired against a violent group that resembles al-Qaeda, one of its main enemies? And will the US violate its own law for Erdoğan, who does not hide his anti-Americanism and his feelings in favor of certain radical groups?
In fact, Erdoğan and his aides are aware that their move will not be successful. They just want to give the impression that they did their best to ensure Gülen's repatriation but the US did not agree because he is a pro-American cleric.
In addition, they may try to use this case if Gülen is not repatriated to reject some of Washington's demands. The US government spokespeople give the message that in principle, they do not make any comments on personal legal issues, including those relating to repatriation. Washington, however, is concerned and bothered by Erdoğan's obsession with Gülen and the possibility that he may attempt to degrade bilateral relations between Turkey and the US.
The media operation staged out of hatred and revenge is threatening Turkey's economic, strategic and security interests given that it was publicized outside the country. Threats to the country are further increasing because of failure to address the corruption issue that surfaced last year. Civil society cannot be intimidated; free media cannot be silenced. We are dedicated to keeping up the fight.
Published on Today's Zaman, 23 December 2014, Tuesday