October 28, 2015

A dark day for Turkish democracy

Bülent Keneş

The Ankara 5th Criminal Judge of the Peace -- one of the operational judges that will be remembered as a black stain in the history of democracy and law as their introduction was "projected" by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be used as tools for his oppression on certain groups-- acted upon the unlawful and arbitrary demand from the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office on Monday to decide to appoint a trustee to take over the management of Koza İpek Holding, which owns the Bugün newspaper, Bugün TV, Kanaltürk TV, and the Millet newspaper, without providing any concrete evidence or justification.

The campaign to hijack Koza İpek Holding with this unlawful and arbitrary decision is certainly geared toward the silencing of the İpek Media Group, which not only has been raising its voice boldly against Turkey's headfirst dive toward dictatorship, but also serves as an effective platform for people and groups from diverse ideologies that seek to resist this despotic and unlawful process. On the other hand, a 25-year-old girl was killed by the police in her own home in downtown İstanbul. Under these conditions, it seems obvious that no one in this country can enjoy the security of life or property under Erdoğan's unlawful regime and the arbitrary despotism of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Every citizen is now concerned that what happened to Dilek Doğan, who was shot to death by police inside her home, may happen to themselves and their families. Any firm which does its job is afraid that its assets may be seized arbitrarily at any time by the unlawful Erdoğan regime on the basis of ridiculous excuses. A few media outlets which have not yet bowed to the despotic Erdoğan regime and the arbitrary AKP government are worried about who will be the next. If journalists and intellectuals can still continue to write articles or speak their minds, they can do it by taking the chance of oppression that may hit them. Unlawfulness, oppression, tyranny and arbitrariness haunt Turkey like a nightmare as the most fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the rule of law and justice are in the throes of death.

There is no need to prolong the debate. All free and fair-minded democrats are being silenced one by one. The biggest source of disappointment in the face of these pressures and tyrannies is the lack of any reaction from society. Yet, the newspapers and journalists are not the only ones that are silenced. Society is being deprived of their right for information about the facts that concern them and the ideal of their kids living in a free, pluralistic and democratic country where the rights of citizens are guaranteed regardless of their views and lifestyles. I am penning this article in order to show that I will not remain silent in the face of the unlawful attempt to hijack Koza İpek Holding and İpek Media Group, and I would like to stress that I fully support my colleagues.

A short, concise and effective manifesto, titled "A Dark Day," was published in yesterday's issues of the Bugün and Millet newspapers of İpek Media Group on the first page against a black background. These pages strongly symbolize how the unlawful lot of politicians who have deceived the public by marketing themselves as "clean" have darkened the horizons of Turkey. As a journalist who swore not to surrender to this ruthless, unprincipled and immoral despotism, I want to note that I am with my colleagues who are under pressure. To add my voice to my colleagues' cries against that black background, I would like to quote that manifesto here.
A DARK DAY "For Turkish Democracy and Freedom"

Less than a week before the Nov. 1 snap election, the Ankara 5th Criminal Judge of Peace has placed Koza İpek Holding, parent company of İpek Media Group, under receivership, ordering that trustees be appointed to replace the existing board of directors.

When the raid orchestrated through 'slander' and 'fabrication' failed to reveal anything, revealing that the accounts of İpek Media Group and its parent company Koza İpek Holding were clean, a court ruled to appoint a trustee to replace the management of the Koza Group and all companies belonging to it.

The former advertising director and the former finance director of the strongly pro-government Sabah-ATV Media Group have both been appointed to be in charge of our media group… When they were unable to silence the free media, when they couldn't prevent its effectiveness and its reaching masses then the plan to turn the entire group into a member of the pro-government press has been implemented…

Just as they are trying to eject our media group from Turkey's satellite operator TÜRKSAT with an unlawful 'directive,' this time they tried silencing it with a decision made by their 'designed courts.'
And as our free and independent broadcast is blocked, all outlets where the political opposition can speak to the large masses are being censored and darkened…

While 'property rights,' 'freedom of speech' and 'the right to information' are all being trampled upon, it has now become impossible for there to be a fair and transparent election campaign…

We are once again living in a dark day for Turkish democracy, human rights and rule of law…"
Published on Today's Zaman, 27 October 2015, Tuesday