November 23, 2015

Avcı’s wife: The government doesn’t want a single opposing voice

Nurdan Avcı, the wife of journalist Gültekin Avcı who was arrested on charges of attempted overthrow the government in seven columns he wrote for the Bugün daily, said the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government doesn't want a single opposing voice in the country.

Avcı, a prosecutor-turned-journalist who specializes in intelligence issues, was arrested on Sept. 20 on charges of "establishing a terrorist organization" and "espionage" for his series of columns addressing alleged links between the Iran-backed terrorist network Tawhid-Salam and Turkey's spy agency.

Speaking to the Özgür Düşünce daily, Gültekin Avcı's family members spoke out against his imprisonment, with his wife Nurdan emphasizing that her husband has been held in İstanbul's Silivri Prison for more than two months only for writing seven columns. She said: “My husband was [imprisoned Samanyolu Broadcasting Group CEO] Hidayet Karaca's lawyer. We felt sorry the injustices brought against Karaca and others [targeted in a government-initiated witch-hunt]. And as my husband was fighting for them, he too was arrested and now faces similar injustices … We take pride in being on the side of those who are honorable and honest in these times when the dishonest are showing us who they really are.”

Karaca, who has been held in prison without a formal charge, was detained in part of a major media crackdown on Dec. 14, 2014, aimed at intimidating media outlets critical of the government. The operation came just three days before the first anniversary of the massive corruption investigations of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's inner circle and senior government officials.

“We feel sorry for those who are subjected to unlawful treatment and tyranny [by the government]. We also know that what we did wasn't wrong. Gültekin only wrote columns about those who intended to undermine the state's indivisible integrity and this offended some people's feelings,” Avcı's father, İsmail, said.

Referring to CEO of Koza İpek Holding Akın İpek's stance on the unlawful seizure of the company that included Bugün, Avcı said: “When I last saw Gültekin during visiting hours in the prison, he told me ‘The owners of the daily where I wrote are a courageous, noble and righteous family. [Akın İpek] is a peaceful human being who would rather live as a poor man than a dishonorable one. However, there are now few people like him.'”

In a government-initiated move, police raided the headquarters of a number of media offices early on Oct. 28 to takeover administration of critical media outlets owned by İpek Media Group. Trustees then took over management of the Bugün and Millet dailies, as well as the stations Bugün TV and Kanaltürk. During the raid many journalists and protesters were subjected to excessive police force. A group of journalists who were fired from the media group after it was seized started publishing a new daily, first called Özgür Bugün and later changed to Özgür Düşünce.

“[The government] doesn't want a single opposing voice, broadcast or publisher. They are deliberately marginalizing society in order to reduce reaction of [unlawful] incidents. People are polarized now more than ever, even those in the same family. They are thus supporting tyrannical acts [targeting people they know],” Nurdan Avcı said, condemning the government for its intolerance against critical media.

Condemning the government witch-hunt, İsmail stated: “[Pro-government media organizations] only show people what they want them to see. Some of my friends and relatives don't even know about the important developments taking place in the country because they aren't covered by the pro-government media organizations. … They have seized some [critical] media outlets by force and have started carrying out a perception operation.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 23 November 2015, Monday