May 21, 2015

What a contemporary interpretation of the law!

Günal Kurşun

Last Sunday, it was revealed that Ankara Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun from the Bureau of Crimes against Constitutional Order sent a warrant to the general manager of the Turkish Satellite Communications Company (TÜRKSAT) on April 27 asking him to prevent the usage of a state-owned satellite connection by the so-called “parallel state structure,” referring to the Hizmet movement.

The legal grounds of the prosecutor for such an absurd demand are that the anti-government media outlets are allegedly "fostering polarization in society and terrorizing people.” According to the prosecutor, criticism of the government, namely the Justice and Development Party (AKP), fosters polarization and terrorizes people. What a contemporary interpretation of justice and development! Previously, nearly every AKP official has stigmatized, demonized and condemned all critics and criticizers. That was the real polarization. It is very hard to understand the prosecutor's behavior. If he is so interested in the polarization of society then he should have stopped AKP officials years ago. Since 2010, nearly every day we have heard and watched this widespread and systematic polarization policy of the AKP toward Alevis, leftists, LGBT people, Kurds, nationalists, Kemalists, non-believers, Christians, Jews and all other non-AKP supporters. “Excuse me, Armenian,” “Armenian offspring,” “Alevis playing mum söndü (a phrase used to insult Alevis),” and “I open Google; I roll something like bakara-makara (a mocking reference to a chapter of the Quran)” are some examples used by top AKP officials.

The prosecutor's request reportedly includes TV stations, radio stations, websites and printed publications that are critical of the government. It is clearly a way of limiting freedom of expression, free speech and free media. It is not enough for the AKP that they have had hundreds of journalists fired and put extreme pressure on opposing media groups. Top columnists of Turkey like Hasan Cemal, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan are still not able to write in any daily printed publication. Just a few days ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent another threat to Aydın Doğan, head of the Doğan Media Group. The prosecutor is not just requesting that TÜRKSAT stop the broadcasts of Hizmet-affiliated media, but he is also threatening other media groups, showing them that their end could be similar. I think he has guaranteed a seat for himself in the Supreme Court of Appeals after the election.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu yesterday denied the claims about preventing the broadcast of TV stations, radio stations, websites and printed publications. He admitted that there was such a warrant from the prosecutor, but said it is not yet important, given the law. He said that “Prosecutors first have to investigate the allegation, prepare an indictment, complete the legal process, and only after the legal process is completed will steps be taken. Currently there is no binding legal decision. No steps have been taken in this regard.” That's an attempt to control the reaction coming from the EU, but everyone knows that the AKP sent a clear message to all opposition media ahead of the coming elections of June 7.

Australian activist Julian Assange said, “I'm not a big fan of regulation: Anyone who likes freedom of the press can't be.” I'm a big fan of regulations that are in accordance with international standards of freedom and justice. What do you think that the prosecutor is a big fan of?

Published on Today's Zaman, 21 May 2015, Thursday