Hürriyet editorial: No excuse can justify violence against the press
ISTANBULWe are living in sad days of national mourning because of the loathsome terror attack which happened in Dağlıca, southeastern Turkey. It breaks the hearts of all of us that our heroes, our soldiers, were martyred while they were fulfilling their national service. We condemn the terror perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) once more. We harbor in our readers’ tolerance that during such a sorrowful period we have to point out in this space our newspaper was subjected to an attack. However, we do not regard this attack as an issue limited to us only. The attack on daily Hürriyet, as an assault on the essence of democracy in Turkey, freedom of the press and the right for society to be informed, closely concerns everybody.
These attackers who entered Hürriyet’s yard and attacked the paper’s building with stones and sticks and who smashed the main door were protesting the way President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement broadcast the other evening was covered on the paper’s website.
We are conducting our own internal examination of the story in question. Depending on its outcome, Hürriyet will not refrain from self-criticism. However, no mistake, no excuse can justify the organization of an attack with stones and sticks on a newspaper building. The incident that happened the other night is not the first attack targeting Hürriyet; however, it is different than the previous ones. In the past, these kinds of attacks would be organized mostly by groups dominated by the mafia. The other evening, however, individuals representing the legal entity of a political party were present.
The thought-provoking aspect of the incident stands out there, because democracies are regimes that do not contain tyranny and bullying; they exclude violence as a method. In democracies, those who use stones and sticks are not allowed to intimidate society; on the contrary, bullies who opt for these methods face sanctions.
It is sine qua non, a prerequisite for democracy to function, that political parties, the fundamental institutions of a democratic regime, distance themselves from violence in this respect and put up a thick wall between themselves and violence. For parties to opt for violence as a method is an action that maims democracy and the essence of rule of law. Violence is a tool of horror regimes only.
In this respect, the role played by a deputy from the former ruling party during the act which targeted our paper the other night, as well as the slogans chanted during the incident and the themes discussed, is extremely disturbing because inevitably it openly associates the party with this attack. Also, this attack can be regarded as the result of a slander campaign systematically conducted for a long time by both the pro-government media and on social media accusing the Doğan Group and Hürriyet of supporting terror.
Hürriyet, as Turkey’s biggest and the most influential paper is one of the significant assurances of independent journalism in our country.
Our paper being subjected to a violent attack the other night will be recorded in history as a black page shadowing our democracy and freedom of the press. These pressures and these methods will not hold back our newspaper, which celebrated its 67th anniversary last week, from walking on the path it deems correct.