Orhan Kemal Cengiz
I have been receiving telephone calls and interview requests from some newspapers and TV channels, most of which are affiliated with the Gülen movement. They ask the same question over and over again: What do I think about the recent revelations of the whistleblower, Fuat Avni, in which he claims 200 people will be arrested before the election. And most of them, according to Fuat Avni, will be media people. He even cites names, including my editor-in-chief from Today's Zaman, Bülent Keneş; the Turkish daily Zaman's Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı; the daily Cumhuriyet's Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, novelist Ahmet Altan and so many others.
Well, I would expect something like that after the election, if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) were to have a strong majority in Parliament. And I can even say that I am quite sure there would be such a crackdown on media after the election if the AKP were to maintain its power. All signs point in this direction. But normally, I would not expect it to happen before the election, since it could have a potentially damaging effect on the percentage of the vote the AKP will receive.
However, whenever, Fuat Avni has said that there would be a police operation and arrests before, that operation has happened. Fuat Avni gave reasonable explanations why there would be an operation before the election. He said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knows that it is highly likely that the AKP will not be able to form a government on its own and therefore, he wants to deal a final blow to some circles before he loses his power. The seizure of Bank Asya by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) strengthens this argument.
However, I still am not sure if such a big move will come from the government in these couple of days before the election, in spite of the fact that Erdoğan openly threatened one of the journalists on this “will be arrested” list, namely Can Dündar, saying that he would pay a heavy price. Obviously, Cumhuriyet's report about the trucks of the National Intelligence Service (MİT) made Erdoğan quite angry. As you know, there was a very big fight over these trucks; the gendarmerie officers and the prosecutors who stopped these trucks on the suspicion that they were carrying illegal weapons to Syria are now in prison. Cumhuriyet's story showed that these trucks were indeed full of weapons and ammunition. Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accused Dündar and Cumhuriyet of all sorts of things, from treachery to revealing state secrets and so on.
If there is a crackdown on the media and if these people whose names were cited by Fuat Avni are arrested before or after the election, they will be targeted for different reasons. They are not connected in any way. Ahmet Altan, for example made Erdoğan quite angry in the past and Taraf, of which Altan was editor-in-chief, is still a headache for the government. Cumhuriyet became a headache after these recent revelations about MİT trucks. Media outlets identified with the Gülen movement became a headache with their publications on corruption, and so on. They would be targeted for different reasons but, of course, they have one thing in common, namely they give the government headaches.
Will there be an all-inclusive attack on the media?
If it were to come before the election, as I said to the media outlets that ask this question, it would show that the people in power in Turkey have lost all sense of reason.
If it happens after the election, it will show that Turkey is going down a road from which there is no return.
I hope it won't happen either before or after the election.
I hope that in the June 7 election, the AKP will lose majority to form a government, for everyone's sake.
Published on Today's Zaman, 2 June 2015, Tuesday