September 9, 2015

Why the Doğan and Koza-İpek groups are targeted

Yavuz Baydar

"If we wanted, we could crush you like a bug. You have been able to live until today only because we have shown mercy to you."

These are not lines from a mafia movie. They were printed by a pro-government newspaper called Star yesterday. The “target” in question is Ahmet Hakan, a well-known TV show host on the CNN Türk TV channel. The author is a person who, in his columns, only focuses on hand-picked journalists from the Doğan media group and the Gülen movement-affiliated Zaman daily and Koza İpek Media Group. Each and every article is filled with hate speech and threats toward colleagues who in these dire times try to stand tall in their professional conduct.

Although this libelous campaign has continued for some time, there is no intervention from either the editors of Star or prosecutors. On the contrary, these types of columns printed by pro-government outlets have become the norm, with people watching by in shock and awe.

In a broader picture, we are all witnessing Turkey becoming lost at an accelerating speed. One of Turkey's most influential “centrist” dailies, Hürriyet, was attacked by angry mobs recently two nights in a row, its building left damaged and its staff scared out of their minds when on the second night, some thugs made their way to the upper floors of the building. Police arrived on the scene late and the mob -- led by a young AKP deputy -- left, shouting slogans supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and promising to come back until Hürriyet staff "get used to it."

Also, for the second time, the police raided Koza İpek Holding on Tuesday, which owns some key media outlets, TV channels and newspapers.

In an even broader picture, Turkey has been going under an unprecedented nightmare -- comparable only to the pogroms against the İstanbul Rums in 1955 -- of a large number of ultranationalist mobs for the second night in a row attacking more than 130 offices of Turkey's third-largest elected party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The attacks and marches, which do give the strong impression of being centrally organized, assembling Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Grand Unity Party (BBP) supporters as well as those of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), went on without any police intervention. The biggest target was the headquarters of the HDP in Ankara. The destruction was huge and almost all of the vandals went away as they came.

There is no doubt that Sept. 8, 2015 will go down in history as some form of "Kristallnacht," reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s, at least as an “attempt” to see how far the lawlessness can go or as a test to see whether or not the ground is ripe for silencing the entire media and opposition.

Turkey has come that point, and is being lost as we know it. Bone-chilling indeed.

The questions, among many others, are these: Why is the Doğan group being attacked so strongly, verbally and physically? What lies behind the police raids into Koza İpek companies? And what is the aim in attacking the HDP?

These questions are without a single doubt interrelated because they all have to with the approaching early election and with the AKP's leading cliques clinging with all they have to power.

The main reason behind the attacks against Doğan and the Koza İpek raids is about what they have in common. Both companies have TV channels, which “all the president's men” see as critical for mass control and manipulation. More than 80 percent of Turkey's voters get their news solely from TV.

Then, there are differences when it comes to content. Both media groups, keen on standing tall and independent, have somewhat converging but in general different audiences. Doğan outlets have been inclined to give weight to coverage of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the (HDP), with Koza İpek outlets addressing conservative audiences that are critical or oppositional to what Erdoğan represents today. There is little doubt that the president and all his men reason that these outlets lie behind the “defeat" in the June 7 general election, particularly TV, bold coverage on which helped into being a four-party Parliament that broke the 13-year domination of the AKP.

Doğan is under severe pressure, to the point of, perhaps, being submissive to accepting not to give space to the HDP in its transmissions at all. We shall soon find out whether or not its proprietor will bend before power or not. As for Koza İpek and other Gülen-affiliated media groups, the raids and operations probably aim at a government takeover or closure since they show no sign of bowing to pressure.

Along with the media crackdown, the physical attacks on HDP offices will also continue to escalate and they are intended to achieve two results: To make it impossible for the HDP to campaign and pass the 10 percent threshold or, by sheer pressure from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), being forced to declare a boycott of the polls, after which it may be possible for the AKP to rule singlehandedly in Parliament with three parties only.

In short, Turkey is gripped by a destructive, evil, diabolical mindset.

Published on Today's Zaman, 9 September 2015, Wednesday