Paying a price

Paying a price


Bekir Çoşkun, the eminent journalist-writer who was recently forced to quit HaberTürk because of his articles critical of the government and absolute ruler Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, must learn the need to withhold his praise for his colleagues as apparently his praise has become very dangerous.

In his recently published book “Don’t bow your head” Çoşkun provided a detailed summary of how he decided to resign from daily Hürriyet and how he was sacked from HaberTürk. In between the lines, he explained in full colors how a strong friendship developed between him and Emin Çölaşan, another influential writer who has been defying all efforts aimed at silencing him.

In the book Çoşkun, apart from documenting how a journalist with integrity can defy all sorts of pressures, underlines all the skill the need to build and endure solidarity among professionals of this profession for the sake of not letting the profession be dominated by some political janglers who don’t hesitate to engage in some relations of allegiance with those in power in exchange for either a pat on their back or some more juicy awards rather than remembering that on behalf of the nation being critical of those in power has to be the fundamental pillar of journalism.

Quite often, Çoşkun refers in his book to some important respectable and reliable sources of information. I have been following it quite frequently but after reading its name among those news sources found respectable and reliable by Çoşkun, the Oda TV Web portal become a routine website I visit every day several times.

The publisher of Oda TV is leading journalist-writer Soner Yalçın. For the average reader Yalçın perhaps is better known as the authors of a two-volume serial on Turkish converts, or “Efendi.”

Yesterday, at the request of the prosecutor probing the Ergenekon case, police searched the home of Yalçın in the early hours of the day. Police went through his entire archive, checked every corner of the house. Almost at the same hours headquarters of the Oda TV portal was raided as well.

This country is of course an “advanced democracy.” Naturally, this country cannot be compared to those backward democracies with no qualifications at all. In “advanced democracies” like that of Turkey, the right to criticism can be acceptable and respectable only if, while criticizing, either the absolute ruler and his government are praised indeed or adversaries of the most benevolent prime minister are condemned outright.

In the “advanced democracy” everything is relative. For example, if people critical of the government of a neighboring country gather to stage a protest, if the absolute ruler of this country dislikes the ruler of that country or finds it in the best interest of his government to see him ousted, such a gathering is an exercise of the right to demonstrate which should be respected. But if the people of northern Cyprus gather and condemn outright insolence demonstrated by a Turkish embassy official and Turkey’s political pressures on the Turkish Cypriot government to implement an economic program also imposed by Ankara, then such a gathering is unacceptable, not democratic as well. Why? Because Turkish Cypriots are Turkey’s fosters and thus are not entitled to civil rights.

As it was reported by the allegiant media outlets, the prosecutor ordered the detention of Yalçın. What charges will be brought against him, or whether he ever face any charges or how long he will wait behind bars before any charges are brought against him obviously could not be estimated yesterday as in this country of “advanced justice” sometimes it takes well over a year for people to learn what they are accused of.

Moments before he was dragged by police into “detention,” while his house was still being searched, Yalçın sent a message to newspeople through Çetin Soysal, a main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, deputy who visited him as a representative of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and said he was ready to pay if there was a price to pay in order to remain an advocate freedom of speech and a secular and democratic Turkey.

Almost the same time television stations were reporting some retired senior officers who were not rounded up in earlier operations were being admitted to the Silivri concentration camp. TV stations were reporting that the retired officers, like the on-duty officers arrested last week, were claiming that the so-called “Sledgehammer documents” were all forged.

Isn’t everyone paying a price?