Which notebook, esteemed Prime Minister?
CAN DÜNDARTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has found the villain behind the increasing violence: the press! Let me remind you of what he said: “You should keep in mind that every word you write constitutes a propaganda element for them [referring to the terrorists], and you should know that we are noting all of this down in our notebooks.”
The first sentence is typical: “If you do not speak for the government, you are on the side of the terrorists.” Then we should not write about the clashes in that have been going on in Şemdinli for 20 days over an area of 40 square kilometers, or about the state’s failure to control the clashes. And we’d better not talk about the numerous residential areas that have been evacuated, or the governor’s placing seven zones under a temporary military prohibition. We should also not write about the ongoing war while the prime minister is boasting on TV that “we have abolished the emergency rule.”
Revealing the government’s mistakes is also wrong, in case the terrorist organization makes use of it. Instead, just like the supporters of the government, we should engage in “embedded journalism,” and publish newspapers representing everything as being a bed of roses, in order to be in their good books, shouldn’t we?
Let’s look to Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin’s words: “The extraordinary agenda of the country is not only due to the conflict area. Another conflict is ongoing in Istanbul with pens and books. There is no difference between the mortar shell exploded in Geçimli and the things written in Ankara.”
We remember these words from the Sept. 12 military coup. We heard the same things from [the military leader of the coup] Kenan Evren at that time. This is a mentality which regards books found in the offices of organizations as evidence of crime and displays them side-by-side with weapons. The same mentality is afraid of writing, and hostile to the freedom of expression.
The Geçimli attack was the result of your security gap and wrong policies, esteemed minister. And the things written in Ankara were the inscription of that gap. By silencing the latter, you can’t get rid of the sins of the former. At most, you play into the hands of the organization by turning our worn-out democracy into the former regime of martial rule. Then you will be on the side of those who regard pens as weapons, and burn books in squares.
Let’s look at the most impressive sentence: With this sentence, the prime minister himself revealed that he has a notebook in which he writes down each and every thing “one by one,” probably in order to settle accounts in the future. Have you ever heard of a prime minister saying “I am noting down your writings” in a civilized country?
I should admit that these words reminded me of the Feb. 28 coup [when the military forced an Islamist government from power]. I remembered the historic warning the National Security Council (MGK) issued in 1997: “The publications of media groups against the Turkish Armed Forces must be controlled.”
The Western Work Group, established for this purpose, blacklisted those who wrote against the military, or “noted them down in their notebooks,” and brought about their dismissal, under the guise of “fighting against reactionary forces.”
Time passed by. The figures responsible for the Feb. 28 coup were erased from notebooks. And those who came to power in their place assumed control. Only the target of the warning has changed.
The latest statements could be interpreted this way: “The publications of media groups against the government must be controlled.”
Note down wherever you like: This mentality belongs to Feb. 28. And “it is not different from the mortar shell exploded in Geçimli,” in terms of its harm to democracy.