Journalists can’t be provocateurs

Journalists can’t be provocateurs

Disguised as a journalist, the provocateur was on the screens again. He was cheering a security operation against the legal offices and elected executives of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP). With hundreds of local executives of the HDP detained, the provocateur was cheering for the revenge of the 44 people who perished or were blatantly murdered in cold blood, allegedly by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist gang.

The awful, pro-PKK performance of the HDP leadership, particularly after the June 2015 elections, has been irritating. The over 13 percent of the vote the party received in the June elections was not given to the PKK. Rather, people wishing to contribute to a peaceful end to the Kurdish problem cast their votes in favor of the HDP, hoping that the party would help deliver a bitter compromise resolution. It was with the same consideration that when the tall, bold, bald, ever angry man trying to gather all powers in his hands moved on the HDP and implied it ought to be closed, this writer and many others screamed that this country needed the HDP for a political compromise solution to the worst problem the republic has faced since its inception. It was with that belief that it was stated repeatedly that in the absence of a HDP, Turkey ought to help create one because the state needed a credible counterpart for a negotiated resolution.

That was the problem… The HDP could not become a credible counterpart. It insisted on not denouncing terrorism. It refused to condemn PKK atrocities. After each and every major attack of the gang, including the cold-blooded mass-murder this week, the HDP could not join the other three parties in condemning PKK terrorism. Failing to condemn terrorism is of course a deficiency for a political party. Politics by nature should aim at a civilian and negotiated resolution to problems and must definitely turn its back on terrorism rather than trying to use it as an element of support.

With such considerations, the support for the HDP fell to 10.6 in the repeat November election. That was a punishment by the people for the wrong policies and the preferences of the HDP leadership. Indeed that is how politics should work. It was obvious to this writer and many other observers that the HDP was a “political extension” of the PKK; people saw that bitter reality and gave the party a very strong warning. Its votes fell by more than 1 million; its parliamentary strength went down from 80 to 59.

Today, 10 deputies of the HDP, including its leading co-chairs, are in prison. They are facing a web of accusations ranging from membership in a terrorist gang to abetting terrorism and such. How serious these charges are will be seen during the court process. But, while like journalists, parliamentarians have no right to walk over Turkish laws and enjoy impunity, it is a constitutional stipulation as well that arrest should be an exceptional application. Why does Turkey have 146 journalists behind bars? Why does Turkey have tens of thousands of alleged criminals in prisons? Why are HDP deputies being kept in prison and have been prevented from fulfilling their parliamentary obligations? Did the Turkish constitution not clearly underline that the parliamentary activities of parliamentarians should not be hindered?

The vociferous provocateur disguised as a journalist was shouting at the TV screen yesterday that “from now on, now that they did not condemn terrorism even after this deadly blast, whoever says the HDP is not the PKK or TAK [the PKK unit staging urban guerrilla attacks] or the PYD [the Democratic Union Party in northern Syria], he is also a terrorist and should be treated as such… I’m saying it from this screen: We shall have no tolerance for terrorism. We will take them down wherever we see them…”

Oh la la… These words were pouring out of the mouth of a journalist. “I must have heard him wrong,” I said at first… He repeated loud and clear as if he heard that I was having difficulty in comprehending what he was saying.

It is normal for journalists to have different opinions. Indeed writers and intellectuals in a society must have some different ideas and provide food for thought to their societies and thus help them advance. Was it not what the European Court of Justice said in its many rulings: without free speech and discussion democracy cannot progress?

Targeting people, accusing people denied of the right to defense, mudslinging or sheer provocation, however, cannot be compatible either with free speech or the ethics of journalism. In his master book, “The Art of War,” did Sun Tzu not say, “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by?” We are not just waiting by the river but writing for history what’s floating by. The provocateur disguised as a journalist who is celebrating the floating by of enemy bodies probably believes we have a fish memory like him. But we remember what great allies he was with those bodies floating by today.