June 2, 2015

Threats against free enterprise and free media

Erhan Başyurt

Separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, free enterprise, and freedom of media are the main pillars of a democracy.

Nowadays, these four elements are virtually non-existent in Turkey. Turkey is not marching toward advanced democracy anymore, but is going downhill at an ever faster pace and moving away from democracy in an uncontrolled manner, like a car whose brakes failed.

The executive branch, a one-party government, has brought the legislative to heel with its parliamentary majority. The executive has also gained full control over the judiciary.

There is no longer a “checks” and “balances” mechanism between the executive, legislative, and the judiciary. Separation of powers gave way to unity of powers and to even a concentration of powers in one person.

It is impossible to expect a pluralistic democracy, rule of law, justice, and checks from such a system.


Free enterprise is a “sine qua non” of democratic societies and advanced economies.

First, all preparatory schools, i.e., private enterprises, have been closed down.

And most recently a private participation bank with a “strong capital position and transparent partnership structure” has been seized.

However, they [government officials] have temporarily taken over management control of the bank – since they “could not seize it legally” – months ago, ignoring the statements of partners.

If it became inevitable to seize the bank today, it is the government, which has taken temporary management control of the bank months ago, to blame for.

Moreover, it was impossible for them to take over the management of the bank back then. And it is legally impossible to seize the bank now.

But when the law is suspended and politicized and autonomous agencies are undermined, it becomes all too natural.

From now on, it is not possible to talk about the safety of property rights and freedom of enterprise.

Foreign investors flee, there are no new investments, exports decline, and exchange rates rise.

Seizing Bank Asya upon political instructions and without any legal basis means throwing the economy into chaos.

Unfortunately, the state itself – not those actually responsible for these mistakes – will have to pay indemnity out of public coffers for such unlawful acts.


As the independence and impartiality of law has been destroyed and the law of the superiors has been re-established after the Dec. 17/25, freedom of expression and freedom of the press eventually disappeared.

Not only has pluralism been undermined but all dissidents are threatened and “revenge operations” are conducted under a legal veneer.

Dreadful claims circulate.

“Legal entities of Zaman and Taraf dailies and STV channel will be seized.”

“Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Can Dündar, Yasemin Çongar, Ekrem Dumanlı and others will be arrested.”

“Feb. 28 investigation against Doğan Group was reopened by the prosecutor. An operation will be launched.”

How can you talk about media freedom in Turkey now?

Turkey has become a country where people stand trial in High Criminal Court even for posting a tweet.

Hidayet Karaca has been kept in jail for 6 months because of a fictional sentence spoken in a fictional TV series script.

Mehmet Baransu has been kept in detention for 3 months because of documents he used in his reports.


Cumhuriyet daily is faced with a “political lynch campaign” for posting an alleged video of illegal arms shipment to terrorist groups.

Instead, it should be awarded a prize for this report.

Taraf daily is forced to pay for its successful reporting in previous periods.

Doğan Group is blackmailed and targeted in rally grounds for refusing to “obey.”

There are rumors about seizing two established media groups of Turkey, Zaman and STV.

In the past, large media groups that were critical of the government have been seized through the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) and transferred to “pro-government” figures later.

Police beat a journalist in front of everyone just because he works for a dissident media outlet.

Public institutions impose an accreditation ban on critical media without any legal basis, curtailing the right to receive and impart information.

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş put it succinctly:

“If the AK Party wins a sound parliamentary majority in the election, it will launch a sweeping crackdown on all dissidents.”

Turkey moves away from being a free and democratic country and turns into an authoritarian and impoverished country where everyone is a “reasonable suspect” and those objecting to unlawful practices are punished while submission is “rewarded.”

The country is heading for a disaster. This reversal of democracy ruins Turkey.

Published on BGNNews, 02 June 2015, Tuesday