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Reporters Without Borders recently released a detailed report regarding the freedom of speech in Turkey, with the title of “A Book is Not a Bomb!” The prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a “great” contribution for this title, since he likened a book with a bomb at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), trying to rebuff the questions of freedom of press in Turkey:
“It is a crime to use a bomb, but it is also a crime to use materials from which a bomb is made. If informed that all materials needed to construct a bomb have been placed in a certain location, wouldn’t the security forces collect these materials?”
This outrageous claim refers to the seizure of journalist Ahmet Sik’s unpublished book “The Army of Imam” on March 24, which unveils the “deep state” in Turkey.
In Turkey, more than 57 journalists are being held in prison at the moment, mainly referring to the Ergenekon trial which claimed to be a terrorist movement organising a coup d’etat against the ruling party AKP. The crediblity of the Ergenekon case is very much under suspicion, because of the convictions of reliable journalists and intellectuals of the country. There are several indictments of thousands of pages since October 2008 and the wave of arrests are continuing without a trial, without reaching a definite verdict.
Ergenekon trial is mainly based on the conflict between islamist-rooted ruling party AKP, and seculars who depend on the founder of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Atatürk.
Reporters Without Borders’ Turkey report, deals with some top issues regarding freedom of press in Turkey, namely the Ergenekon Case, the imprisonment of two influential investigative journalists, Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, the impact of Fethullah Gulen cult on Turkey’s politics, the repressive laws against freedom of speech, and the issue of independency of media.
One of the conspicuous remarks on the report, is that many journalists feel under pressure, and it has became a crime to have an opposing attitude against the government, since journalists are being accused of being a part of a terrorist organisation without any kind of proof. The seizure of an unpublished book is one of the obvious proofs how dangerous and terrifying the situation is in Turkey.
Despite of the claim of the ruling party, that they are the pioneers of Turkish democracy, many people feel under pressure regarding freedom of speech and media. The arbitrary arrests of the journalists, and the defence of the authorities by likening a book with a bomb, unfortunately causes a big disgrace for the country’s democracy challenge.
Reporters Without Borders’ Turkey report reveals the unstable and unreliable environment in the country, especially when it comes to freedom of speech. The ridiculous enforcements, for example the internet censorship and the overwhelming pressure on journalists who are only doing their jobs, are some of the stains on country’s modern and democratic face.
Despite the protests all over the country, Turkey still seems to hold on to the current situation. Especially after the results of 2011 elections, it seems that the importance of the freedom of speech and media has not been realised yet. Still the struggle has to be persisted with the motto “A book is not a bomb!”.
Please find the special report of Reporters Without Borders here: http://en.rsf.org/turkey-fact-finding-mission-a-book-is-not-16-06-2011,40471.html