Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart
Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul
Update from Turkey 24-06-13:
The Turkish media have long been suffering from state involvement in the media’s freedom. Over the years Turkish people have heard PM Erdogan call for a boycott of media sources that are critical of his policies, and basically any columnist who evaluated the government’s performance and reflected poorly on the negative outcomes was declared a personal nemesis. Usually these incidents ended with Erdogan asking the media bosses kindly to let those columnists or editors go, which happened to some journalists over the last decade.
Most recently, when the media played along with the government in failing to report on all the events and turned a blind eye to protests, media consumers were enraged and declared the mainstream media unreliable. In the meantime AKP officials also declared the media unreliable, claiming that the penguin documentaries shown during the hottest clashes taking place in Taksim Square were secretly related to a deep civilian coup organization’s secret plans to instigate anger in society and direct people towards social-media platforms where media companies secretly started an anti-AKP campaign which was to start with fights in the streets. The same theory also included another claim – that protesters were doing all kinds of violence while the cameras were off, and then when the media started broadcasting, they would “bend over and whisper swear words into policemen’s ears to get them infuriated,” thus supplying the world media with material.
Over the course of last month, when the Turkish media kept silence or simply propagated the government’s point of view, it was the international media that did not forsake the Turkish protesters. The journalists contributing to international media centers had become somewhat used to receiving words of discontent from both civilians and officials for covering the events taking place in the Southeast Anatolian Kurdish cities before; now they get shunned for reporting about Gezi protests. Several journalists have been targeted by AKP officials over the course of last month, yet today has been witness to a case that goes beyond all others so far: Metropolitan Ankara Mayor Melih Gökcek went so far as to declare Selin Girit of the BBC as a spy for England, a traitor and an enemy of the people.
When Gökcek started a hate campaign on Twitter, it received unprecedented reactions from almost all journalists online. However a great number of AKP supporters have started issuing death threats to Selin and all kinds of accusations have been directed at her.
A counter-campaign immediately started with the help of the Gezi movement, yet the truth campaign unfortunately has no real effect in discouraging thousands of people from hating Selin and believing that she actually is a traitor and a spy. The method of targeting a journalist today closely resembles the case of Hrant Dink in 2006 and his unfortunate murder in the early days of 2007. Back in 2006 when Dink was shown as a target, he was threatened many times. Although in his own words he did not really want to believe that anyone would shoot “a peace dove,” he was murdered in cold blood, breaking Turkey’s own world record for the highest number of journalists murdered.
There are other journalism-related records that Turkey holds at the moment. One of them is the number of imprisoned journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were 65 journalists in prison in Turkey as of 19 June, 2013. Yet the government officials accuse most of them of terrorism – although it is not difficult to imagine what kind of terrorism they were engaged in when writing articles… The government has also accused several journalists of rape, robbery, and murder; however no names or other details were given about these journalists.
There are many hate campaigns calling for assassination of journalists and media workers, and hate speech seems to have become an integral part of the statist-nationalist supporters’ rhetoric now. Although there is a special hatred against journalists who reflect about events, there is another major campaign being promoted by several radical Islamist newspapers that are infamous for starting campaigns against art galleries, books, artists, exhibitions and all kinds of cultural events, including the celebration of New Year’s Eve. One particular newspaper published an article in which the columnist refers to Memet Ali Alabora and his central position in the Gezi protests since day one. The columnist suggests that when he published a piece back in 1992 he wrote about the danger that Aziz Nesin was in, and in July 1993 a hotel was set on fire by thousands of people while police and military watched. 33 intellectuals were burned alive while several dozen barely escaped with their lives. The same columnists states that today a similar order was given by some dark forces concerning Memet Ali Alabora and that he his life is in danger. Two weeks ago, Alabora had already held a press conference stating that he had been receiving death threats.
One other hate campaign of the day was about the opening LGBT Pride parade in Istanbul. Several Islamist journalists used hate speech to refer to the people that attended the Pride, and continued escalating the arguments over social-media platforms. While they were being as “professional” as possible in their swear words, their readers however went beyond their limits in their definitions, insults, and threats. While these kinds of “freedoms” are acceptable to the government, the freedom to call for an end to violence or simply criticize the government is not among them.
When people question the level of freedom and the restrictions on liberties, the answer usually comes unanimously from the AKP officials that no one can enjoy limitless freedom and if anyone feels that they can, the government is much freer than the individuals. For the people who have been victims of the government’s oppressive methods of handling the protests, lately the biggest freedom was asking the question of who is responsible for all the violence they face on the streets on a daily basis. Today in Erzurum, PM Erdogan answered that question: “They ask who gave the orders. I did, of course. I told the police to clean up the square and park so that my nation can use it.”
There were also other interesting remarks by Erdogan during his speech. He suggested that all of his supporters should hang a Turkish flag on their balconies and windows to show which side they are on in these events, and while restricting his supporters to hang only Turkish flags, he also said that “Those who wish can also hang up the triple-crescent flag of the Ottoman Empire” despite the fact that the triple-crescent flag is currently also being used by the extreme nationalist MHP, and the nationalist leader defies Erdogan’s attempts to lure his supporters into AKP.
Finally the closing words of Erdogan from Erzurum: “One Nation, One State, One Flag, One Language, One Fatherland: Turkey”
MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com
Turkey: Another Night of Heavy Crackdowns @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-another-night-of-heavy-crackdowns/
Turkish Protesters’ Park-Forums @ http://99getsmart.com/turkish-protesters-park-forums/
Turkey: Erdogan’s Kayseri speech @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-kayseri-speech/
Gezi Park: Civilian Occupation Ends, Police Occupation Begins @ http://99getsmart.com/gezi-park-civilian-occupation-ends-police-occupation-begins/
“Tools of Freedom”: EU Parliament Conference on Events in Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/tools-of-freedom-eu-parliament-conference-on-events-in-turkey/
Turkey: As AKP Aims to Silence International Media, Police Continue to Storm Taksim; Uprising Spreads @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-as-akp-aims-to-silence-intl-media-police-continue-to-storm-taksim-uprising-spreads/
Turkey: Resistance Park @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-resistance-park/
Turkey: Regime Ignores International Community’s Outrage @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-regime-ignores-international-communitys-outrage/
Turkey: The “Cleaning” of Taksim Square @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-the-cleaning-of-taksim-square/
Turkey: Artists Accused of “Civilian Coup” @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-artists-accused-of-civilian-coup/
Turkey: Erdogan’s Fictitious ‘Reality’ Persists in Speech to Paid ‘Supporters’ @http://99getsmart.com/turkey-erdogans-fictitious-reality-persists-in-speech-to-paid-supporters/
Green Spaces Keep Shrinking, Boycotts Expand and Police Complain about Working Conditions @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-green-spaces-keep-shrinking-boycotts-expand-and-police-complain-about-working-conditions/
EU-Turkey Conference Minimizes Overt Police Brutality, Erdogan’s Ongoing Hypocricy & the Failure of Turkish Main Stream Media @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-eu-turkey-conference-minimizes-overt-police-brutality-erdogans-ongoing-hypocricy-the-failure-of-turkish-main-stream-media/
Nightly report from Turkey 07-06-13 @ http://99getsmart.com/nightly-report-from-turkey-07-06-13/
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