October 28, 2015

Tyranny is not Turkey’s destiny

Cafer Solgun

So far, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership has taken many a step towards limiting our rights and freedoms.

Some call the ruling party's tyranny a “civilian coup.” Personally, though, I've avoided using this definition. I was always sure the AKP wouldn't go any further, or that it would somehow stop itself. In short, I believed in good intentions. But I was wrong. The fact is, the past two years of AKP rule have constituted a systematic coup against Turkey's already problematic democracy.

They never decided to “stop at a certain point.” Instead, using the tools bestowed on them by their control of the state, they continue to chip away at our democracy, our justice system and our freedoms. With just a few days to go until the Nov. 1 election, the AKP has shut out many opposition voices from TV screens. One would have thought that the forced removal of opposition TV channels from cable server platforms would have been impossible; but they did it.

What the AKP really wanted, though, was the complete silencing of the opposition media. So shutting down screens, quieting down voices and applying economic pincers was not enough for them. What's more, they were in a hurry. So they decided to impound and take absolute control and realize their goals this way.

Those who had averred “But surely they won't go that far” were wrong. This is why we all watch as, wielding prosecutors and special “project” courts with no connection whatsoever to the law, the AKP takes over Koza İpek Holding, which has many influential media groups in its possession.

For a long time now, Koza İpek Holding had been under severe pressure from the AKP. It had been targeted for tax auditing countless times. Nothing unusual or illegal ever been found but despite this, the AKP forced trustees to be appointed to the holding's board, thus taking it over. Perhaps not surprisingly, these “trustees” were at the same time directors from the pro-government media.

Headlines in the Bugün and Millet newspapers -- both of which belong to the İpek Media Group -- yesterday blared, “A dark day for Turkey, for our democracy and for our freedom.”

The Koza İpek Holding situation is an accurate summation of the situation facing the entire country. The unfair and illegal takeover of the holding's board does not just target one company; it is a coup against all our freedoms of thought and expression. It is a coup against the free media. It is a coup against people's right to access the news freely. It is a coup against the opposition political forces. It is a coup against property rights. It is a problem for all of us and is a coup that strikes at the heart of Turkey's desire and efforts to democratize.

As such, it is our collective responsibility to stand strong against this coup. The AKP has pushed through and done everything we thought they wouldn't or couldn't do. Rest assured, they'll only do more from here onwards because they have gone mad, and it is not a case of temporary insanity.

The real reason of course for the AKP's frightening and very obvious insanity is the fear that they're about to lose power. This is linked to the fear of having to account for what they've done in courts of law in the future. The greater their fear becomes, the more aggressive they become.

The palace in Ankara and the AKP have become the most giant barrier there is between Turkey and a democratic future. In order to look towards the future with assurance, we must make it over this barrier. No matter what the AKP does, though, time does not stop and the calendar keeps flipping forward. The Nov. 1 election in Turkey is no average election. Those who think that somehow this tyranny is “Turkey's destiny” will be proven wrong.

Published on Today's Zaman, 27 October 2015, Tuesday