Freedom of censor

Freedom of censor

Freedom of expression and free media are among the fundamental pillars of democracy. Another important pillar of democracy is the principle of the supremacy of justice. The principle of equality of all in front of the law is yet another. There are many other principles and norms of democratic governance, but in the absence of the above mentioned, none of the rest could make up democracy on their own.

For example, elections are very important in democracies, but if elections were not held in a “free atmosphere” where contestants participated “on the basis of equality” and the process was carried out under the jurisdiction of law can it be possible for such elections to produce democratic governance? If elections are held in North Korea, let’s say, can there be democracy there? Or, if later this summer Syrian dictator Basher al-Assad is elected president again, can he be assumed president of a democratic country? Was yesterday’s Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak or even Mohammad Mursi – who was “democratically” elected but tried to obtain powers even Mubarak did not have – presidents conforming democratic head of state?

Unfortunately Turkey is joining such an odd list of countries where once upon a time there were some elements of democratic governance, but even those semi-democratic acquisitions were bulldozed by a strong, majoritarian, know-all style leadership.

In the absence of freedom of expression, can there be democracy? In the absence of the supremacy of law and if with an Orwellian saying there are “some animals” more equal than others in front of the law, can there be democracy? Obviously no one can claim in the absence of a court verdict any of the scores of people implicated in graft after the Dec. 17 operation – or those who were saved from being accused with the government halting further probes – are guilty. The sons of the ministers or even the son of the premier or the husband of that famous pop star might be guilty, but until sentenced by court they should be given benefit of the doubt. Not only them, others that the premier is grinning his teeth at, sentenced to life without a court verdict must have been, of course, given the same treatment.

“Man dakka dukka” as the premier loves saying. If you knock on the doors, you must be prepared for some others knock at your door.

Now with the “more equals” under the graft probe the government remembered on the one hand the principle of “no one is guilty until sentenced” fundamental principle of law, while on the other hand has been punishing the policemen and prosecutors who launched the graft probe. Those policemen, who were long been banished to some other posts, may now face charges of “organized action.” Can such a behavior be considered compatible with justice?

Well, all these might be related to a bigger fight between the high, bold, bald, angry and ever-yelling absolute ruler and an Islamist clan leader living back in Pennsylvania in the U.S. Still can norms of democracy be shelved because of a vendetta between a majoritarian personality and an Islamist cult?

For example, can a government empower the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) to censor electronic media outlets, as well as personal blogs of parliamentarians and still claim to be abiding with principles of democratic governance?

In democracies freedom of expression is sine qua non… That is a fundamental element. If, in this country, freedom of expression is replaced with freedom of censorship, can we still call this country a democratic one?