September 2, 2015

Ahmet Altan: Turkey will not allow mafia-style governance

Author and journalist Ahmet Altan has strongly criticized the government-led raids on Koza İpek Holding, saying if one truly wants to understand what is going on currently, they should watch mafia movies, adding, "And the joint reaction should be to say that the mafia will not be allowed to govern the country."

Altan also said those who gloat over the crackdown on critical media are President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's agents and that Turkey will never allow Erdoğan to implement a presidential system.

Speaking to Bugün TV, whose headquarters was raided by the police on Tuesday along with several subsidiaries of Koza İpek Holding in Ankara, Altan stressed that if one really wants to understand what is going on currently, they should watch mafia movies, adding, "And the joint reaction should be to say that the mafia will not be allowed to govern the country."

In his remarks during the interview, Altan questioned the Doğan Media Group's silence in the face of the government operations targeting critical media outlets, adding: "If all media outlets don't jointly raise their voices against the current oppression, then the next target will be those who remained silent in the face of such a crackdown. They [Erdoğan and the government] will never backpedal from their oppression of the media because they fear being tried in courts; this is a source of deep panic and concern for them. The thought of being imprisoned is an obsession for them."

Pointing out that the operation targeting Koza İpek Holding was not conducted on the grounds of the group being affiliated with the Gülen movement -- also known as the Hizmet movement and inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- Altan went on to state: "Those who are gloating about the raids are Erdoğan's agents. The main purpose of the oppression is to hush up all dissent and the channels that enable them to express their opposition. [Academic] Deniz Ülke Arıboğan was fired by the [state-run broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation] TRT for posting just a single tweet [in which she criticized the raids on Koza İpek Holding]. The opposition [in Parliament] should unite against any form of government-orchestrated pressure. They have jointly expressed their solidarity with those who are subjected to such intimidation operations and say they will never allow the government to carry out its plan. They should declare they will not bow down to a mafia governing the country in this way."

Altan further lambasted the government for robbing the country for four years, adding: "Their main job is to rob the country. We have witnessed a number of thieves in politics in the past but never on this scale. Don't be afraid. … Let them fear. … Those thieves should feel fear. … My grandmother has a saying, 'The one in the right might be hurt but can never be brought down.' If you are right, then no one can bring you down. Those who steal and kill children [a reference to those killed as a result of police violence], see how they feel fear in the face of the unlawfulness of their doing. See how they feel fear, don't be afraid and say 'Enough is enough!"

On Dec. 17, 2013 a massive corruption scandal implicating then-Prime Minister Erdoğan's inner circle and key members of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government was revealed. Erdoğan and the government's reaction to the scandal was to bury it and punish the prosecutors who oversaw the graft investigation and launch a witch hunt against all dissent.

Underlining that the word "peace" is Erdoğan's worst nightmare since it corresponds to the law, Altan said: "The AKP [AK Party] and Erdoğan cannot stand the law. They either have to flee from justice or destroy it. They have to silence all dissent and imprison those who demand justice. The AKP has zero tolerance for any opposing voice. The AKP is no longer a political party. We are facing a gang."

On Tuesday morning the police raided the premises of Koza İpek Holding, which is critical of the government, as the Bugün daily owned by the group had run a story that same day with video stills showing illegal government-backed weapons transfers to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Koza İpek Holding includes Kanaltürk, Bugün TV, the Bugün daily, İpek University and Koza Holding. The residence of Akın İpek, the chairman of the group, was also searched by the police on Tuesday.

Published on Today's Zaman, 2 September 2015, Wednesday