Sunday, July 17, 2016

How Citizen and Free Media Averted A Military Coup in Turkey

There has been a military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15th, 2016. The attempt was identified by amateur recordings on video of tanks on the streets and photos and videos of soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge around 10pm.
soldiers blocking the entrances to Bosphorus Bridge on the night of July 15th

The coup makers attempted to control state-run TRT tv station and forced its announcer to read a coup declaration. This did not prevent commercial TV channels like CNN Turk, Fox and NTV to broadcast the events and air messages from president Erdogan and PM Binali Yildirim.
TRT announcer, Tijen Karas, was forced to read the coup statement at gunpoint

Indeed both used Facetime to connect to TV channels to talk against the coup and invited citizens to go to public squares to protest against the coup.
President Erdogan used Facetime to talk to people

Turkish Radio and Television Broadcast Corp (TRT) was saved by the people and police 5 hours later but by that time soldiers supporting the coup invaded Kanal D/CNN Turk building and forcefully stopped them from broadcasting. In fact because they did not know how to stop the broadcast the channel continued broadcasting with an empty studio and shrikes of channel workers as they were being forced out of the station.

a group of soldiers raided Dogan Media Center to stop broadcasting

When all this happened live on tv, citizens and police raided the station and clashed with the soldiers eventually taking  the  station back into air. Ironically just a year ago a similar mob had attacked the same building for criticizing the government.
the moment when soldiers raided Cnn Turk studio

Unable to control each station by armed force, soldiers associated with the coup attacked TurkSat, the satellite broadcasting center in Golbasi, Ankara killing the technicians working inside. Certain TV stations that were extremely critical of the coup were taken off air like Halk TV and Ulusal TV.
Golbasi Turksat control center after the raid

At this time journalists started covering the event on location and one of them was shot dead covering the coup live. One media manager Erol Kolcak who ran ad campaigns for AKP was shot dead with his 16 year old son while protesting the coup.  Yenişafak's photojournalist Mustafa Cambaz died after being shot in the head. Other reporters following the events at the Turkish Parliamnet experienced the bombing of F16 fighter jets who machine-gunned government buildings in Ankara. Later in the morning angry mobs attacked press representatives and police had to open fire to protect the journalists in front of the parliament.
Mustafa Canbaz, photojournalist, was shot dead on the night of the coup attempt.

Instagram and facebook froze during the attempt but twitter was very useful and active. The reason behind was the coupmakers were trying to control the internet through BTK, Turkish Telecommunications Authority in Ankara. Also periscope was used in all parts of Turkey making it the second busiest video casting hub in the world after the USA.
citizen journalism in Turkey on the night of the coup attempt

All party representatives were against the  coup and they  all made use of the internet to appeal to the public to stand against the coup attempt. By the morning most of the perpetrators were apprehended thanks to the reporting of independent media and citizen journalists efforts some of whom died covering the events.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Systemic Repression of Media in Turkey

 The three editor-in-chief and interim of the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem have been arrested yesterday (June 20) over “terror propaganda” because of their participation as temporary editor-in-chief to the production of the newspaper in the framework of a project called Editors in Chief on Watch coordinated by Özgür Gündem daily: Şebnem Korur Fincancı (President of Turkey Human Rights Foundation), Erol Önderoğlu (journalist at Bianet and RSF Turkey correspondent) and Ahmet Nesin (journalist and author).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Freedom of Media is at Stake in Turkey

Only days after Turkish constitutional court favored a ruling for the release of the Turkish journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, AKP government attacked freedom of press through various repressive mechanisms. These attacks took form in exclusion from satellite frequencies, taking over of media corporations by the state though a mechanism called "overseeing" and finally by forceful closing down of media outlets.

Dundar and Gul are released by a Turkish constitutional court ruling. Here they are making a statement to the press on February 26th coinciding with President Erdogan's birthday.

Erdogan commented on the ruling that he does not recognize, respect and accept the court's ruling. Both journalists were arrested on November 26th and had been in jail for 92 days. They were accessed of espionage for revealing the videos of illegal arms trafficking by Turkish government to ISIL related forces in Syria.The videos were taken by currently arrested policemen and military officials who stopped the suspected trucks two years ago. This footage was available for some time and published by various media outlets previously. Such revelations of illegal arms trafficking by Erdogan and company may lead to indictments of crimes against humanity in international courts against president Erdogan in the future as some columnists comment.

Attacks on freedom of expression continued as government encouraged prosecutors declared they would pursue sentences for the sentences of peace declaration by academics. 1128 academics made a public statement for calls for peace on January 11th. These academics currently experience a hatred campaign and public lynching by the ruling AKP party officials. There are continuous interrogations, suspension from university jobs and finally arrests happening across the country. Most recent arrests happened on March 14, 2016: Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy, Muzaffer Kaya and Meral Camcı


Next IMC TVa Kurdish left wing tv station is kicked out of TURKSAT satellite system. The channel reacted by switching to Hotbird. IMC TV was interviewing newly released Can Dundar. As they were on the air their broadcast was interfered by government satellite service provider. IMC TV was taken off TURKSAT satellite on February 26, 2016. Another critical media outlet BenguTurk TV that is close to the opposition MHP Party is also excluded from TURKSAT satellite on March 1, 2016.

As journalist Banu Guven was interviewing Dundar and Gul on IMC TV, their broadcast was suspended. This issue is covered by Al Jazeera International' Listening Post

After the illegal takeover of Ipek Media only days from November 2015 general elections, the overseers appointed by Turkish government decided to shut down Ipek Media companies.These are two newspapers and two tv channels including Bugun TV. The former reporters of Bugun TV are currently operating through a remote satellite TV station called Can Erzincan. Ipek Media companies were closed on February 29, 2016.

More critical media outlets were raided by the police. On March 3rd, 2016 Zaman newspaper headquarters were raided by police as a judge appointed overseers to take over Zaman Media. Many concerned citizens from Zaman readership came to protest and they were teargassed some of them women and children. Women in hijab were beaten and teargassed by the police.


Zaman newspaper was published with a dark headline that day: THE CONSTITUTION IS SUSPENDED

In Germany a popular TV show called Heute made a practical joke of fabricating a government friendly Zaman daily issued for the next day. The mock Zaman issue praised everything related to president Erdogan and praised AKP government  activities. Ironically the next day Zaman daily was printed in a similar mood with articles praising AKP and Erdogan.
Almanlar dalga geçti
German show's Mock issue

Zaman's online newspaper archive is also suspended. The archive included documents that connected Erdogan with illegal arms trafficking to Syria, allegations of bribery that included Iran's billions of petro dollars. Cihan News Agency that collected news daily and Irmak TV are also closed by government appointed overseers. The English language international version of  Zaman Daily, Today's Zaman is also suspended.

Women who came to support Zaman daily were beaten and gassed by the police.

Final nail in the coffin off Turkish media was the news that Dogan Media's activities between 1997-2002 would be  investigated. Dogan Media also issued a statement on March 4th against government friendly Turkuaz media that consistently fabricate dark propaganda against Aydin Dogan and his companies.

It seems the anonymous twitter Fuat Avni's predictions before November 1 general elections are coming true. All free and critical media are t be suppressed by AKP. Fuat Avni is a nick name of a twitter account followed by millions in Turkey. The person or persons who run the account reveal intimate details from Erdogan's close circle and some of their predictions have come true. here is the English version: @FuatAvniEng

The restrictions on media news coverage also continued. After the deadly attacks in Ankara on March 13, 2016 Turkish Radio and TV Board (RTUK) banned the release of any footage on the aftermath of the attack. A court also ordered the blocking of facebook and twitter so that such images and videos could not be shared by the public.The attack killed 37 and wounded 125 people. Turkish government bans news items that would incriminate them.

Moment of explosion as hot debris falls on people running for their lives, Guvenpark Ankara, Turkey 13.03.2016. Government friendly private channels and state TV TRT went on business as usual and continued their regular broadcast of tv series after the explosion. As a sad and ironic note Fusun Demirel, an established actress was banned from her own tv series after making comments related to her sympathy for guerillas fighting on the mountains. First the show was taken off air and then she was fired from the government friendly ATV TV's weekly drama Aile Isi (Family Business) show.

Actress Fusun Demirel lost her job after speaking her mind.

On March 15, 2015 left leaning Ozgur Gundem news reporters press cards were cancelled by Prime Minister;s Ofice for Press Affairs (BYEGM). According to twittter phenomenon Fuat Avni it is expected that AKP government will attempt to target other critical press such as Cumhuriyet Daily, Sozcu Daily, HalkTV and end up arresting opposition party leaders along with Aydin DOgan the owner of Dogan Media.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Dictator's Last Refuge: Fascism

The June 7, 2015 general elections resulted in ruling party AKP's loss of majority for the first time since 2002 in Turkish politics. Yet with the unconstitutional and illegal aid of the former-AKP leader Tayyip Erdogan the country was forced to an early election of November 1st that led to another majority parliament by AKP. As several vocal proponents of AKP voiced well before the election, there have been mass arrests of journalists who were critical of the AKP government since then. One such journalist is Can Dundar's and his producer Erdem Gul's arrest due to their news coverage of illegal trucks carrying weapons into Syria."They will pay for what they have done" had said Tayyip in a public speech just before the elections.

1128 academics across Turkey from 89 different universities voiced their concern for the military campaign in south eastern Turkey that is going on non stop since June 7 election results were announced. The aim to punish Kurdish leadership in the region, inciting a civil war to get votes from concerned citizens has been the AKP tactic in winning the November 1st election. Now president Tayyip Erdogan called the academics "rascals" in a threatening TV speech he made on January 12, 2016 and promised that "they will pay dearly for their beliefs" too.

The week was full of attacks on media freedom. One such incident was political attack on Beyazit Ozturk who runs a popular late night show. Beyaz allowed a concerned teacher to voice her opinion on what goes on in south eastern Turkey. As a result the teacher and Beyaz are under investigation to participate in terrorist acts by Turkish police. Dogan Media, the owner of Kanal D where Beyaz airs his show publicly apologized. Beyaz in fear appeared on tv to apologise for something he did not do.

In addition on January 12th 2016 there was an ISIS terrorist attack on Sultanahmet tourist district of Istanbul where 10 German tourists died and there were many wounded. There was an immediate ban on broadcasting from the scene even before the ambulances arrived. The aim to hide the truth and ban news agencies in Turkey by the AKP government is regular in Turkey

On a happy note the previously banned Bugun TV is now reincarnated as Can Erzincan TV. It is a local station that streams online and through satellite. The only news channel critical of  the AKP government stands alone marginalized but firm and dedicated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Dark Day for Turkish Media

Today AKP government's police stormed the Ipek media headquarters and stopped the broadcasting for BugunTV and Kanalturk. Two television channels critical of AKP government and its autocratic leader Tayyip Erdogan and they were silenced just 4 days before a general election. This week 7 television channels belonging to the group were taken out of digital platforms, cable tv and satellite by a prosecutor's request.

Police cut the cables of cameramen who were broadcasting the illegal police operation.

Police tries to storm in around 5am today and they were successful. Yesterday the media group was warned that the government appointed a new board of overseers to Ipek Group. Ipek Group owned by Akin Ipek was under scrutiny from government auditors. Ipek Media Group owns Bugun TV and Haberturk along with newspapers like Bugun and Millet. As the news of a possible takeover of the companies by the government arrived the day before, Bugun daily published its front cover in black with the headline A DARK DAY (for democracy,freedom and Turkey).

Bugun Daily's headline A DARK DAY protesting the takeover of Ipek Media

A day later hundreds of police stormed into the Ipek Media building beating journalists and attacking civilians who tried to block their entrance. The events were broadcast live until the police cut the live cam cables and severed the uplink to the satellite. Some of the fired members of Bugun TV are streaming now on youtube and via Cihan News Agency. The first order of the business of the new board was to fire the mangers of Bugun TV and Bugun daily. Bugun TV is currently broadcasting archive material such as a documentary on the life of Hitler. Hitler is adored by AKP brass for inciting the Holocaust and during AKP's rule Mein Kampf has been a best seller among AKP elite.

Bugun TV broadcast live the forceful illegal entry of police into the building.

The chief manager of Bugun TV, Tarik Toros, had been broadcasting live nonstop for 48 hours when the police stormed into the control room and cut the broadcast, turning all screens to black. Opposition MP Mahmut Tanal who tried to stop the police and MHP Istanbul Branch chair Mehmet Bulent Karatas who came to an invited tv appearance were also attacked.

AKP's police thugs entered the building dismissing opposition MP Tanal's protests

The police currently blocked the entrance to the Ortaklar Street in Mecidiyekoy, Istanbul where the Ipek Media Headquarters is located.

The fascist police preventing the people from entering the street of Ipek Media

There was also blood on the thug police hands as they beat up journalists from other television and newspapers. One journalist blood was spilled on his press card. Mustafa Kilic from Millet daily was beaten by the police while covering the events in front of Ipek Media building.
Blood spilled on Turkish journalist's press card.

Just two days ago an AKP MP, Aydin Unal who was previously president Erdogan's speech writer, told on a television interview that "We are awaiting after November 1st elections. After that we will have our way with those media who attack us".

AKP MP Unal threatened the media critical of AKP government just two days ago.

Aydin Unal is not alone in attacking media critical of AKP government. Cem Kucuk, is also dubbed the "trigger man" making inflammatory comments on anyone criticizing the AKP government.
against a journalist who is writing for Star, a daily newspaper operated by pro-government media barons, also known as Pool Media. Cem Kucuk previously threatened Ahmet Hakan of CNN Turk that 'We could crush you like a fly if we want. We have been merciful until today and you are still alive,'. Cem Kucuk recently threatened Fox TV new team including anchor Fatih Portakal in Turkey for covering the illegal police raid on Bugun TV. Speaking during a TV show on the pro-AK Party Kanal 24 on Thursday, Küçük told the news team to “watch themselves.” He implied the government's next target might be FOX TV. He also said Turkish government has files against Rupert Murdoch.

Similarly NOKTA magazine headquarters were stormed this week by the police. The magazine was critical of Erdogan and AKP and recently released the minutes of a secret AKP meeting where several leading members of AKP, including some ministers, complained about how autocratic the party had become and they were destined to lose eventually as they became more authoritarian. NOKTA magazine released these minutes as a three part series titled the AKP Diaries. The first issue sold out. The police raid happened as the second part of the series was due to be published. The managers of the magazine stated that the publishing house was threatened not to print the issue, after a court order police collected the previous issue and they confiscated all computers at the office. The websites and links narrating the first of the series were also blocked.

Weekly Nokta Magazine issue 21 titled AKP Diaries revealed the minutes of a secret AKP meeting 

A previous attacks was on investigative journalist Ahmet Hakan of CNNTurk. Hakan was threatened by AKP MP Abdurrahim Boynukalin in a video recorded by his fans. In the recording Boynukalin stated that "Hakan deserves a beating". On October 8th, Hakan and his driver were attacked by three men as they were leaving the Dogan Media building. Hakan's nose and ribs were broken. The attackers were later captured by the police. It is revealed that the three men were members of the ruling AKP party.

Hakan was taken to a hospital's ER after the attack.

All this media attack came after October 10 Attacks when 102 people were killed by an ISIL suicide bomber in Ankara. The media outlets connected members of ISIL to the attack and portrayed how Turkish police attacked the wounded people after the explosion with water cannon and tear gas. The dead were among the people who had gathered for a peace rally in front of Ankara train station that day. AKP appointed judges prepared a superinjunction to ban all media from covering the death of 102 people who had gathered to protest against AKP government. Facebook and twitter in Turkey came to a halt raising doubts that the government was trying to prevent the distribution of video and still images of the aftermath of the attack.

 People are in shock after the explosion in Ankara
Those who lived were carrying the wounded to ambulances.
102 dead bodies laid on the ground for hours

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

AKP Thugs Attack Press Nazi Style

It is known as the Turkish Crystal Night when the ruling party AKP's MP and his thugs the youth branch of the party attacked Hurriyet,the leading liberal newspaper building in Turkey. On September 6th, after the news of infamous attack by the PKK on  Turkish soldiers in eastern Turkey around Daglica, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated once again his call for enough number of deputies from his party to get elected to change the constitution giving him imperial powers. Hurriyet social media sites reported headlines from from this interview. Upon seeing this communication AKP Youth organization gathered around Hurriyet headquarters in Istanbul and started smashing the windows of the building. The mob was called into action by leading AKP opinion makers online through twitter Hilal Kaplan, Cemile Bayraktar and Esat C. known for their agitation against any sort of democratic opposition to AKP's dictatorial style of politics.
On the night of  September 6th a mob of supporters attacked Hurriyet daily.

The mob was lead by an AKP MP who was previously leading AKP's youth organizations. Young Ottoman they call themselves, liked by some to the Hitler Youth. Earlier that night the pro-government Sabah was threatened by phone calls alleging misreporting  of news from the Eastern Turkey, hiding civilian casualties and blaming the democratically elected Kurdish deputies as terrorists. and riot police was deployed immediately in front of Sabah newspaper building, though no physical thereat was present. The police did not come to Hurriyet building while AKP youth mob was smashing the  windows and chasing private security around. Actually when  the police arrived they took selfies with the members of the mob.
Members of Nazi youth style AKP youth branch were defiant enough to pose selfies with the police.

Abdurrahim Boynukalin, a recently elected AKP MP addressed the mob to attack Hurriyet. The video of his call to violence is available on youtube. Another video later surfaced his call to threaten if not murder journalists critical of AKP government. Like the CIA does said another AKP MP Cem Kucuk.
Ibrahim Boynukalin, an AKP MP, is seen on site ordering the attack on Hurriyet daily.

This was not to be the last attack on Hurriyet. Two days later on September 8, 2015 another attack was orchestrated by the same mob. Again there was no interference from police.
Another AKP mob attacked Hurriyet daily building two days later.

Currently the free media available in Turkey is at an all time low. Ipek Media a subsidiary of Ipek Holding Co is under increasing pressure as police raided their headquarters several times last week. It is reported by the anonymous twitter informer Fuat Avni that the AKP government wants to crack down on all critical media and businesses before the general election on November 1st. AKP also employs internet trolls on payroll attacking every person critical of the AKP government.



President Tayyip Erdogan openly claims that the constitution is suspended and there is a new regime, He openly declares journalists as targets for the police and prosecutors. Can Dundar, editor of Cumhuriyet daily, is targeted by him for revealing the videos of the secret government trucks carrying weapons to ISIL in Syria. "He will pay for this" exclaimed Erdogan on a TV interview on TRT Haber channel on May31st, 2015. 
Erdogan threatened journalist Can Dundar for reporting the news live on TV.

Aydin Dogan and his newspapers were attacked by Erdogan again. On May 16 former Egyptian president Morsi received a death sentence. Hurriyet daily reported the news as a decision that shocked the world, using the headline “The world is shocked! Death sentence for president who received 52 percent of votes.”The next day, Erdogan accused Hurriyet in Kayseri Square for callingfor his execution: “In Turkey, how did the Doğan Media Group report this story? ‘Death sentence with 52 percent [of votes].’” exclaimed Erdogan. 
The cover of Hurriyet daily read as `World in Shock. Death Sentence to President who got 52 percent of the vote`

Recently Nokta magazine was searched by the police for putting Erdogan on its cover in a selfie style photograph. All copies of the issue were confiscated for making a joke on Erdogan. The building was raided by the police and the editor was arrested. 
Nokta magazine did a mock up cover on Tayyip as was done on Tony Blair during Iraq war by Guardian.
Many opposition journalists accuse the president Erdogan for orchestrating a civilian coup suspending civil rights and commanding the supposedly impartial judiciary.