Foreign journalists writing about Turkey like to focus on the most fundamental divide in Turkish society: the rift between religious conservatives and secularists. But these days an internal clash is raging among the conservatives themselves. And it could be a boon for Turkish democracy.
Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, has said excessive penalties against journalists may threaten investigative journalism and freedom of speech in Turkey. Mijatovic spoke against an investigation targeting Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu for reporting on a confidential National Security Council (MGK) document that mentioned a planned crackdown on faith-based groups in Turkey.
The European Union has underlined that public authorities should not interfere with freedom of expression in the media, against the background of Turkish government pressure on the media through criminal and civil lawsuits. “The right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without the interference of public authorities,” Peter Stano, spokesperson for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle, said to the Cihan news agency.
Turkey has been vigorously debating the nature of its democracy and popular Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling style, which has increasingly authoritarian tendencies, as never before since the Gezi Park protests in May. From my perspective, the Gezi protests, on which everyone was almost forced to take sides, is a grey area since both the government and the protesters made their share of mistakes.
A recent report by the Taraf daily indicating that the National Security Council (MGK) had formed a plan to destroy the Gülen movement has sparked discussions. This is only natural, considering that the current political administration is known for its adherence to religious values. This report is huge news because the government failed to oppose the military in the MGK meeting.
Hélène Flautre, the co-chairwoman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, has described the launch of an investigation into the Taraf daily and journalist Mehmet Baransu for publishing records of controversial National Security Council (MGK) documents as being “scandalous” and “inappropriate,” adding that she has serious concerns about freedom of the press in Turkey.
Turkey has been witnessing a rigorous debate for the last couple of weeks over the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) vow to finish off the test prep schools, which are a source of both money and influence for its old ally, the Hizmet Movement led by the self-exiled leader, Fethullah Gülen. Like many controversies in Turkey, the issue of closing the courses and integrating them into Turkey’s poorly-established and -organized education system was not only about the prep schools, which was only the tip of the iceberg.
A prompt investigation launched against journalist Mehmet Baransu for reporting on a confidential National Security Council document that mentioned a planned crackdown on faith-based groups in the country has been met with harsh criticism by Turkish and foreign journalist associations. “It is the responsibility of a journalist to report on issues that directly concern the people,” stated Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon, when speaking to the Cihan news agency.
The Hizmet movement’s Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) released a statement on its website on Thursday in which it said it is worried about the profiling of citizens, civic groups and public employees. It demanded that all the legislation that is reminiscent of the old, anti-democratic Turkey must be revised to ensure their full compliance with fundamental rights and freedoms.
HÜSEYİN GÜLERCE The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) made an important statement on Thursday. Its press release, issued in connection with the recent tension that threatens to disrupt social consensus, seeks to defuse tension with regards to the rift between the government and the Hizmet movement. “[T]he ways in which legitimate demands are voiced should […]
The liberal Taraf daily, where I write a column, is one of the few independent newspapers in this country. Those who don’t know the Turkish media well need to know that media outlets are largely owned by private holdings which have close ties to the government. Thus, Turkish newspapers need to consider whether their reporting would harm their bosses’ business connections with the government.
Daily Taraf, which published a document from a 2004 National Security Council (MGK) meeting about a state action plan against the activities of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement, has been charged with “spying” and “terrorism,” in an investigation launched by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç called on prosecutors to take legal action on Monday against the Taraf daily and journalist Mehmet Baransu, who revealed a controversial National Security Council (MGK) document last week, signed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2004, which detailed a planned crackdown on the Hizmet (Gülen) movement.
The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), one of the most prominent institutions affiliated with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, released a statement expressing its concerns over the government’s claimed profiling of citizens, civic groups and public employees. “It is worrisome to witness developments that echo the said “National Security Board decision, such as the plan to ban prep schools, the profiling of public employees or the purging of bureaucrats who are affiliated with certain communities,” the statement published on the institution’s website said.