Orhan Kemal Cengiz
You know me as a Today's Zaman columnist.
But I also wear other hats. I am a practicing lawyer and have been writing columns in Turkish five days a week for the Bugün daily for the last year.
Bugün belongs to Koza İpek Holding, for whom “trustees” have been appointed by an Ankara judge. I do not know how long I will be able to publish my articles in that newspaper. I will continue to send my articles every day as if I am sending my last piece. At one point they will be rejected.
If you look at the judge's decision, this business group committed many crimes. The judge mentions all these crimes in an abstract form; he did not give any specific details about what these crimes were, how they were committed, on what days, with what means and so on.
However, when you look at what the trustees are doing, you understand the real nature of the crimes these business group committed. The trustees first stormed into the buildings that housed media outlets. They then removed the directors of the media group from their desks.
The police entered the building of the media group as though they were at war. Journalists were wounded, some were taken into custody. The “trustees” stopped the broadcasts of two channels; they stopped the publication of the newspaper; they fired the editor-in-chiefs of TV channels and newspapers. I just saw a video of the “trustees” warning all the employees to obey their orders.
When you look at the accusations listed by the judge in his decision, you will see they all relate to money transfers and other financial issues. The trustees were appointed to inspect all these financial issues, but when you look at their actions you will see a completely different picture.
The real crimes seem to be that this media group was publishing and airing news that made President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and this government angry.
All the trustees are somehow connected to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and their action confirms their political affiliation.
Whatever the pretext, this operation is being conducted to stop one of the most popular and critical media outlets in Turkey. We all know what will be next. These trustees will fire us all and then replace every one of us with someone who is a passionate supporter of this government and Erdoğan in particular.
I am angry, frustrated and very much disappointed. I am personally affected by this action. I am about to lose my job and my column. But maybe, more importantly, Turkey is about to have a change in regime. If this government holds on to its power after the Nov. 1 election, it seems to me that we are going into a full fascistic regime.
It is hard to believe that with a few pages of an abstract decision by one single judge in Ankara they have seized one of the biggest business groups in Turkey and are now trying to crash its media group.
Well, I do not think this will remain an isolated incident. They are now creating a precedent that will be applied to many business groups and media outlets critical of this government.
It will be very easy for them to silence any newspaper after this precedent they have set if they gain support in the Nov. 1 election.
We will be voting for the future of this country; whether or not we will continue to be a democracy or become a fascist regime in which no freedom of expression is allowed depends on the outcome of this election.
Published on Today's Zaman, 29 October 2015, Thursday