Hasan Cemal. Hürriyet Photo
Columnist Hasan Cemal has quit writing for daily Milliyet after the Turkish newspaper refused to publish the veteran journalist’s first column after two weeks.
The newspaper reported the departure of the prominent columnist with a brief note on its website that read, “Daily Milliyet has parted ways with Hasan Cemal, a 45-year master of his profession. We thank him for his writings in our newspaper for 15 years. His column will be open to him whenever he wants.”
Milliyet did not publish Cemal’s first column marking the end of a two-week period in which he did not pen opinion pieces for the newspaper.
Cemal’s last piece was published on March 2, voicing support for the daily’s decision to go ahead with the publication of the minutes of a second parliamentarian visit to the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. The piece came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
criticized the newspaper, saying the principle of press freedom does not give the media the right to “act against the national interest of a country.” Erdoğan had also slammed the columnist with the words “down with your journalism, if this is the journalism you will conduct.”
Cemal wrote that there was a difference between “running the country and making a newspaper,” and that “no one should intervene with other people’s business.”
The 69-year-old journalist
was then suspended from writing for the paper for a period of two weeks, which was set to end on March 18. When disagreement surfaced over his returning piece, Cemal refused to write a new one for the daily unless they published the one at hand, according to the T24 website.
Milliyet’s declaration caused a stir in both journalistic ranks and social media, as Hürriyet columnist İsmet Berkan shared Cemal’s column on his personal blog and Radikal’s Ezgi Başaran paid respects to Cemal, whose body of work included reports and books on the Kurdish issue, militarism and peace.
Prominent columnist Cengiz Çandar described Cemal as “someone who has led the struggle for a solution and for peace on the Kurdish issue.”
Çandar spoke further on the issue in a SKY Türk interview, claiming that Milliyet bosses received two phone calls from Erdoğan following the dispute.
“Cemal is one of the symbolic names [of the solution process], and if he is silenced for his stance on the matter, if he cannot write, then peace will not come to this country,” Çandar said in his latest piece on Cemal. “Solutions will not come.”
One of the most important figures in Turkish media, Cemal worked as the Editor-in-Chief at Cumhuriyet between 1981 and 1992 and wrote columns at Sabah and Milliyet.
His books include “Tank Sesiyle Uyanmak” (Waking Up to the Sound of Tanks), “Kürtler” (Kurds), “Barışa Emanet Olun” (Peace Be With You) and “1915: Ermeni Soykırımı” (1915: Armenian Genocide).