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Censored column of Günal Kurşun at Today’s Zaman: Vandalism vs. law

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“A printing house and its annexes, duly established as a press enterprise under law, and press equipment shall not be seized, confiscated, or barred from operation on the grounds of having been used in a crime.” This is Article 30 of the Turkish Constitution.

It is crystal clear, but hard to understand for abusers of the law. I said the same thing when they were seizing the İpek Media Group. I said the same thing when they were seizing pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem Media Group 20 years ago. Today, you cannot access Özgür Gündem’s website from the Internet after a new court decision based on the controversial grounds that the newspaper is conducting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) propaganda. However, it is possible to read if you are using VPN.

The law stands to prevent vandalism, but what should we do if someone uses the law to commit vandalism? The law doesn’t defend the abuse of rights in any legal system in the world. Today, we are practicing this rule in Turkey. Twitter phenomenon Fuat Avni tweeted two days ago that the decision to confiscate the Zaman Media Group had been taken by the government, and he stated the names of the public prosecutor and judge who Avni said would appoint trustees to the newspapers. Article 133 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) foresees the appointment of trustees to corporations only for the purpose of preventing crimes and finding evidence. In the decision of the judge, there are no grounds proving the prevention of any crime or search for evidence. In fact, there is absolutely no reasoning behind the decision that may convince anyone of the purpose why they are sending in these trustees. Frankly, this is a confiscation.

The Zaman and Today’s Zaman newspapers will find new ways to relay our thoughts to our readers. On Saturday I visited Zaman’s Ankara office and told my friends that they have 30 years of experience. Soon, those with links to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will take over the building, the computers and all materials related to the newspaper and invite them to leave the building to the trustees. That moment, my friends will see those journalists take their experience with them as they leave the building. They did it one time, they can do it again and there’s nothing to stop them.

These dark days of basic rights and liberties, freedom of expression and freedom of the press will merely be a strong memory in a few years, but we will not forget what has happened and never abandon our friends. To strive for human rights and democratization is a life purpose for some people in the world. I humbly see myself as one of them. I sincerely believe that the journalists losing their jobs this week will become human rights defenders if they haven’t already. Law is the medicine for every social ill, so I recommend clinging to it more than ever.

I sincerely thank all our readers as they were my biggest motivation. I also thank all my friends at Today’s Zaman and the Feza Media Group for their ceaseless efforts and superhuman passion for the great job they have done over the years. My last thank you is for the editors who never attempted to censor my columns against the mainstream tradition we saw in Turkey. I have a feeling inside that we may meet in the near future. Until that time, I wish justice against vandalism and patience to all of us.

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