October 31, 2015

Raid on İpek Media has no place even in law of jungle, editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya says

Reactions continue to pour in against the unlawful takeover of İpek Media Group on Wednesday, with Kazım Güleçyüz, editor-in-chief of the Yeni Asya daily, saying that the way the raid was conducted has no place even in the law of jungle and Turkey is being dragged into a politically polarized environment.

Speaking to Today's Zaman on Friday regarding the unlawful takeover of the media group on Wednesday, which was conducted with a police raid, Güleçyüz complained that critical media outlets are facing pressure from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, adding, "The AKP [AK Party] has preferred to create a partisan and sycophantic media that is fully controlled by the AKP. Imposing censorship on independent TV channels is the new implementation of an understanding that does not adhere to the law."

Reminding that the seizure of İpek Media Group --which owns Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, the Bugün and Millet dailies and Kanaltürk radio -- is an implementation peculiar to single-party rule and military coup era practices, Güleçyüz said: "All dissenters are labeled as members of an invented 'axis of evil' by the government. Voters should punish this understanding at the ballot box [by not voting for the AK Party]. The process of takeover itself is already unlawful but the process of firing journalists using the police force marks another severe abuse of power."

Underlining that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is persisting on using divisive language, Güleçyüz said he demonizes any opposing voices.

"Such deliberate and persistent polarization will surely lead to the division of the country," Güleçyüz warned.

Saying that the press in Turkey has failed to develop an understanding of pro-democracy, Güleçyüz continued: "At the beginning, its foundations were built on Kemalist propaganda. This prevailed in the country for decades even after the transition to a multi-party system. This type of media was aligned with the military coups, supporting them and being intolerant towards those politicians democratically elected by the nation.

"This time, after this understanding gradually lost ground, the AKP has aimed to create a partisan climate to serve its political agenda. The position of the media has swung from one undemocratic stance to another. The government had a chance to create an independent media, but this was deliberately lost."

The government-led takeover of İpek Media Group has been met with strong reactions from the free media as its pro-government counterparts have tried to legitimize the unlawful power grab.

During the raid and takeover of İpek Media Group, many journalists from the group were kicked and hit by the police.

The Ankara 5th Penal Court of Peace decided to appoint a board of trustees to oversee the management of the Koza İpek Holding, which also owns İpek Media Group, on Monday. All the trustees appointed by the court are either members or supporters of the AK Party government, even though trustees appointed to companies seized in this manner are legally required to be independent and objective.

Published on Today's Zaman, 30 October 2015, Friday