January 4, 2015

Allegations should receive prize in fiction

Günal Kurşun

As far as I know, there are five famous prizes in fiction in Turkey, given in the name of Haldun Taner, Sait Faik, Yunus Nadi, Yaşar Nabi Nayır and Selçuk Baran. I suppose there might be more awards but these five are the most famous and they definitely have an impact in the Turkish world of literature. The juries look at the technical perfection of the fiction as well as the artistic construction of the structure during the decision process.

My idea is that the allegations of the Dec. 14, 2014 operation against the Hizmet movement could easily be nominated for one of these awards. Although I don't agree with the public prosecutor, if they concentrate on the technical aspects, the prosecutor could receive one of the awards because he deserves literary recognition for the allegations that the Hizmet movement constitutes a terrorist organization which supports violence.

I have never seen either Zaman Editor-in-Chief Erkem Dumanlı or Samanyolu Broadcasting Group (STV) General Chairman Hidayet Karaca in my life. I have no personal link to either of them, but as a reader and TV viewer, I know their attitudes. They have always written about and promoted the idea of peace and have defended their ideas without any aspect of violence. As far as I know, Dumanlı is an author as well and he will consider the value of the possible indictment about him better than me, but from the perspective of criminal law, a document which starts a criminal proceeding must contain concrete evidence to prove the crime alleged by means of substantial proof beyond all doubt. I really wonder how the prosecutor will maintain such a standard without disguise.

The Hizmet movement can be criticized for its actions or its inertia in any case, but accusing a whole movement of being an armed terrorist organization is something out of a comedy. If anything illegal has taken place, state officials are entitled to ask questions, but creating stories, inventing wrongdoing and ordering arrests according to a subjective “reasonable suspicion” clause makes no sense whatsoever. We will see what the allegations are but it is obvious that the operation is designed to criminalize a conservative organization that could become an opponent to the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

According to Article 1 of the Counterterrorism Law (TMK), the crimes of endangering the existence of the Turkish Republic; weakening, destroying or seizing the authority of the state; eliminating fundamental rights and freedoms; or damaging the internal and external security of the state and public order constitutes terrorism. The witch hunt starts here and needs an explanation about how the journalists are doing the described actions. Pure journalism cannot be a tool of terrorism but it is a use of the principle of freedom of expression. Freedom of the press is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Turkish Constitution and the Press Law. However, 2015 will be a year in which we lose our legal conscience and all our binding values.

The great African-American writer and civil rights defender Frederick Douglass said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” We will not be safe in our country until the law declares its hegemony against injustice.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 04 January 2015, Sunday