Throughout history, the state has also busied itself declaring someone or other as a brigand, bandit, anarchist, marauder or terrorist. It’s killed some of them and imprisoned the others. Sometimes those at the head of the state shed “tears” while reading poems for those declared to be terrorists; at other times, they invite crowds to jeer the mothers of the ostensible terrorists.
The tradition continues. Now, lawyers, academics and journalists are being declared as “terrorists” and locked behind bars. Those tasked with this duty until a short while ago are now being prosecuted for forming a “parallel state,” forcing some of them to flee abroad. Those that have assumed their mantle, however, are engaging in similar zealotry.
Every trick in the book is being used to silence journalists. Recently, the state began holding editors-in-chief legally responsible for the contents of their media outlets following a legal change. As far as the state is concerned, the more journalists it packs into prison, the stronger its threat to everyone else.
Investigations have been opened into 37 people who have participated in a recent solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem, with trials being opened against some of them with record speed. Since 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, probes have been opened into 37 people accused of being “terrorists;” trials have been opened against seven of these journalists, but the number is rising. Three, meanwhile, have been arrested. Truly, why have they been arrested?
Were the accusations so unique? No. Were they flight risks? No. They went of their own volition to testify, with one of those arrested, Erol Önderoğlu, actually cutting short a trip to Germany to return to provide a statement. Was there any risk of tampering with evidence? How do you tamper with a newspaper that’s already been published?
They were arrested because the state is afraid of growing solidarity. They can’t countenance the idea of people raising their voices despite the oppression.
We remain determined. We will not kneel down before this oppression but will instead cultivate greater solidarity. We know that there are people that think like us everywhere in this country and many more everywhere in the world. We draw our strength from them. We are aware of our responsibilities, and we are prepared to continue paying the price for the public’s right to the news.
This country and its people deserve a life that is governed by democracy, justice and the supremacy of intelligence and conscience. We call on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to immediately cease its oppressive behavior and take the steps listed below to ensure normalization.
- The Anti-Terror Law must immediately be amended with the participation of human rights advocates and lawyers.
-The detention and prosecution of people charged with “defamation” must cease immediately, while those ruling this country must tolerate criticism.
-The political pressure against the judiciary, as well as the efforts to influence and politicize it, must end.
-The obstacles hindering freedom of thought and expression must be eliminated.
-Hate speech must be punished – not calls for peace.