‘Support me, or I’ll huff and puff and take over your company’
For the last couple of days, Turkey has seen the worst of what a democratic parliamentary system turns into when those in power bend laws as they please in the absence of any kind of checks and balances.
A prosecutor in Ankara demanded the seizure of a multi-billion dollar company based on an ongoing investigation. A judge in Ankara granted the request, ordering the appointment of trustee panels to the holding and its 22 companies.
One of those companies is a media group, which owns two television stations and two daily newspapers. Police raided the media group yesterday, taking control of the entire building.
The newly appointed trustees forced their way into the control room of the television stations, again with the help of the police, trying to interrupt the broadcast. The employees of the televisions resisted, took control and continued broadcasting the raid live until they were cut off completely.
Police intervened against reporters and cameramen, confiscating their tools. The employees were prevented from entering their workplaces, while one reporter was beaten and detained.
And this was done at the expense of violating the constitution, which clearly states that “a printing house and its annexes, duly established as a press enterprise under law, and press equipment shall not be seized, confiscated, or barred from operation on the grounds of having been used in a crime,” even though it was written in the aftermath of the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup.
At this point, the identity of the owner of the seized company, as well as the broadcast and publications they have done so far, do not matter at all. The alleged links between Koza İpek Holding and the Fethullah Gülen Movement, which is under probe for being a “terrorist organization,” is just an excuse.
Besides, the courts decide on the existence of any outlawed group, and the cases against the Gülen Movement is at the indictment stage. Hundreds of people, including high-ranking military officers, were declared members of the “Ergenekon terror organization,” which allegedly attempted a coup, but were subsequently acquitted on those charges while government circles, who were staunch supporters of the trials, claim they were “deceived.”
The seizure of Koza İpek days before a crucial election on Nov. 1 is nothing but an intimidation of everybody, including big businesses, who dare to criticize, or do not openly support the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its de facto leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The message is simple: Support us, do what we tell you to do, or I will confiscate everything you have and no one can do anything.
Hours after police entered Koza İpek Holding headquarters in Ankara on Oct. 27, an AKP lawmaker openly voiced this threat.
“We will bring them all to account after the Nov. 1 elections,” Aydın Ünal, a former speech writer for Erdoğan who was elected as an AKP MP on June 7, said on a pro-government television station.
“When the AK Parti comes to power as a single-party…There is currently so much pressure on Turkey. For example, daily Sözcü insults us every day. When you defend yourself, they cry ‘press freedom;’ they tell this to the world. We are not comfortable now, but all of these will be brought to account after Nov. 1. I promise as a lawmaker to follow this,” Ünal said.
Apparently, the ones to be “brought to account” will not be the pro-government media, who publish and broadcast whatever they are ordered to, including lies and insults.
They will be the ones who lend an ear to what the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) says and are consequently accused of making propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It will be those who raise their voice against the illegal seizure of a company and are accused of abetting the “parallel state.” They will be the ones who wrote the story of a 25-year-old woman shot by the police at her home during a police raid at dawn, and accused of supporting the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). They will be the ones whose headquarters were raided by mobs led by an AKP lawmaker and the ones whose columnists were beaten up.
They will be the ones who bought the “coup attempt” story for a major graft probe launched on Dec. 17, 2013, and questioned the links between businesspeople and politicians, publishing the documents of fraud in tenders and bribes.
As journalists, we are like the “Three Little Pigs” in the famous fable. The “Big Bad Wolf” is at the door of our house, telling us to let him in. When we refuse, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in,” shouts the wolf.
If we want to stay safe in our brick houses, we must not let the wolf take down the house of straw.