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Can journalism be considered a crime?

June 05, 2024 IN WIP
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Can journalism be considered a crime?
Suzan SAKA

Since the early years of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the state has consistently used
detention, arrest, torture, and other methods of pressure and violence against journalists, writers,
cartoonists, and poets who have been critical. Dozens of intellectuals, writers, and journalists have
been murdered through unsolved murders, disappearances in custody, and assassinations. The state
has hindered the revelation of truth by opening hundreds of cases against these journalists and writers.
Today, on May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day, we are once again discussing the pressures applied to
journalists, just as it was a century ago.

Regardless of changes in power, the state has always applied pressure to all minorities, Alevis, Kurds,
democratic forces, intellectuals, journalists, academics, politicians, revolutionaries, and workers in
Turkey. The state not only punishes those who resist this pressure by putting them in prisons but also
attempts to eradicate their existence through massacres, executions, unsolved murders, and
dismissals from their jobs. However, these resistance fighters lead the progress and advancement of
societies. In fact, by applying pressure and violence to these resistance fighters, the state punishes not
only them but also their families, loved ones, colleagues, and the societies to which they belong, just
like the small ripples that start when a stone is thrown into the sea and gradually grow into waves,
causing ripples, especially in the families of these resistance fighters. The state does this consciously
because the main aim is to punish not only the individual but also their relatives and society as a whole
and to intimidate them. It aims to silence and suppress the society. Social and democratic forces try to
resist such human rights violations and raise their voices in every possible way. But it’s not enough.
What remains when the hands and feet are withdrawn, when the waters calm, are those left behind.
That is, those resistance fighters and their families are left alone with their pain and injustice they have
suffered.

Let’s not forget the imprisoned ones, those punished for their thoughts. Let’s not think of them just as
numbers or names. Let’s remember that they are human beings just like us, and apart from the legal
dimension, their lives being disrupted in this way is an injustice on a human level. Let’s always try to
understand the sensitivities of their families and be there for them in their struggles. Just as we feel
uneasy when we don’t see our children for two days, let’s always remember how difficult it is for them
to be forcibly separated from their home environments and loved ones for years. What we don’t forget
is what we remember…

Who among us has forgotten Metin Göktepe? Even if we have forgotten, did his mother, Fadime Ana,
forget? After Metin Göktepe, there have been and will be many more journalists who take up the
baton. Young, brave, conscientious hearts… Journalists in Turkey and around the world who refuse to
bow to pressure, who overcome financial difficulties through solidarity, and who represent the voice
of the unheard, the fearless believers in truth without borders… It’s thanks to these dream travelers
that this vast-old world has been spinning for millions of years and will continue to do so. In the end,
the absolute truth and goodness prevail.

Today is the day of press workers, of free press, of those who reveal the truth. Today is the day of local
journalists, unrecognized in the mainstream media. It’s even harder to hear their voices in such foggy
times. One of those workers is Diren Keser… For many years, Diren has been the voice of Alevi, Kurdish,
women, LGBTI, nature, and the environment through local journalism, program production, and
documentary directing. He is the voice of those trapped under the rubble in earthquakes. His, mine,
yours, everyone’s voice.

Let’s be the voice of Diren and the truth… Because sooner or later, the truth has a habit of coming
out…
Greetings to Diren, who lives on by resisting, and to everyone who resists again and again…

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International