Internally suffering from grave maladies, externally a victim of attacks by a crazed government, the media is now a target of plans to annihilate whatever is left of the free and independent press.
Social media has been shaking with claims that there is preparation of operations against media groups and big companies, which have been allowing for news and comments critical of the government. We have no luxury to ignore these claims.
The injustices that our profession and the media have been subject to, which should have been safeguarded by the Constitution and international agreements, is a harbinger – if not a guarantee – of things to come.
The objective is to set up a media order of the Soviet, North Korean, or Central Asian type – one that is an extension of the ‘superior mind’ and the ruling party
The ‘hello-fatihs’ and the self-censorship revealed by the Gezi protests, the ‘pool’ system manifested by the graft files of December 17th and 25th, not only indicate the extent of corruption in the press, but also how much of that target has been achieved.
‘It is a constitutional crime’, yet…
Judge Kemal Karanfil warned yesterday of a possible operation to silence the media:“Seizing press tools despite the Constitution and legal provisions is, according to the Turkish Penal Code’s (TCK) article 309, a constitutional crime and punishable by a heavy life sentence. It is not subject to statute of limitations”
Constitutional Law scholar, Professor Ergun Özbudun said, ‘This is like a nightmare scenario. It means the already defective democracy will be shelved altogether. I can't believe it can be true.’
Mr. Özbudun still prefers to be optimistic. I do not.
If the ‘superior mind’ has taken any lesson from the shock of June 7th, it will leave no room for any other way than a complete suppression of the opposition as the country heads towards November 1st. For them, there is no choice but to go to elections with a tightly trimmed media order fully engaged in AKP propaganda.
Keep in mind: before the election, the press faces a risk of getting thoroughly transformed into a ‘safe zone.’
The prospect of a ‘total invasion’ is serious.
The scandal that is the Press Card Regulation
The course is clear:
Gradually, they are paving the way for an order of a ‘genetically modified media’ (as dubbed very correctly by Sezin Öney of the Taraf daily).
There is a design of a ‘servant media industry’ as a ladder leading to a ‘one-man’ system.
Discipline by ‘card’
There is another dimension to this ‘scenario.’
These days we are witnessing a press card scandal.
The Press Card Regulation has been changed in a rush.
A committee that included press organizations’ representatives delivered these cards. Now, the imposed change has reduced the number of those representatives in the committee.
And worse, committee decisions will be subject to ‘approval’ (!) by the Prime Ministry’s General Director of Press and Information.
Digital media and news portal staff are denied press cards.
In response, the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Journalists Union (TGS) withdrew from the committee, and decided to take legal action.
TGC Chairman Turgay Olcayto said, "I suppose fellow journalists and reporters in the press organs said to belong to the [Hizmet] Community or the so-called parallel structure, those who are working in their newspapers and TV channels, or fellow journalists and reporters in the leftist press, will no longer be able to receive press cards easily.’
TGS Chairman Uğur Güç said, ‘The new committee has an increased presence of bosses and the government. There is a regulation that facilitates non-journalists to receive a press card, but on the other hand, journalists will get their cards by governmental decision."
The intentions are clear.
The government wants to exclude undesirable journalists and speed up the installation of a‘genetically modified media’ across the nation.
Still, there may be a bright side to it. This scandal is a good opportunity for Turkey’s independent and free journalists – whatever their political convictions are – to unite in the name of justice.