The investigation against Hürriyet: Leaping 15 years backward

The investigation against Hürriyet: Leaping 15 years backward

Turkey has been conducting a “resolution process” since the end of 2012 with the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, to end PKK terror. 

It is not much of a secret that the PKK unwillingly participated in this process and the ongoing negotiations; the process was carried on depending on Öcalan’s power over the organization and with the contribution of the public support that formed in time. 

First the PKK broke its withdrawal pledge and then it threatened, at every opportunity, to end the resolution process. It committed murders in the middle of streets, repeatedly rehearsing the ending of the process; moreover it incited street incidents last year on Oct. 6, 7 and 8, causing the death of more than 50 people and in the end, as we all know, succeeded in ending the process with violent terror acts. 

Turkey’s loss of life since the beginning of July, with martyrs and civilians killed, has exceeded 100; the loss of life in the PKK is reported to be in “the thousands” as pronounced by top officials. 

Turkey is going through this intense terror in an environment of political instability and political uncertainty before the Nov. 1 general elections. For this reason, fighting terror has overlapped with election campaigns and political discourses.

So much so that criticizing the method or the execution style of fighting terror, to voice your yearning for peace, or even encouraging political representatives of the Kurdish political movement to be effective on the PKK and call on them for peace have all suddenly started being called “supporting terror” in the country. The Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) propaganda machine is doing this. 

We, journalists, unfortunately have experienced this dark oppressive environment before. The old state weapon that was used intensely 20 years ago has been rejuvenated in this environment. 

This weapon is the very famous (at least for us) Article 7, Paragraph 2 of the Anti-terror Act (TMK), which has been chopped sizably in its 30-year-old history but still exists in essence. 

Article 7/2 of the TMK is about “making propaganda for an illegal organization” through publications and broadcasts. Journalists are charged with “making terrorist propaganda” in their writing, news reports, publications and utterances; they are tried with sentences from one year to five years.

This paragraph was finally amended in 2013 with the aim of minimizing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) arrests within the framework of the resolution process; in other words, it was moderated. But despite this moderation the vagueness in the language of the paragraph still remains. There are no concrete criteria in place to decide exactly how you would be making terrorist propaganda. It is up to the judge to decide. 

The writer of this column was prosecuted numerous times in the 1990s at the State Security Court (DGM) of the time because of this paragraph, was sentenced twice for “making propaganda for a terror organization,” and was saved from conviction and jail only at the last minute. 

This paragraph, beyond its apparent innocent and legitimate aim, has always but always been used to restrict freedom of expression in the country and to create pressure.   

Today we are witnessing this paragraph rising from the grave again. Worse is that those who only yesterday were complaining about the restrictions in their own freedom of expression are now stamping for the freedom of expression of others to be restricted. 

The investigation launched against daily Hürriyet is not a simple investigation. It is a threat to be taken very seriously concerning the restriction of the freedom of speech of each citizen in the country, taking this freedom back 15 to 20 years.