By Mumtazer Turkone
October 12, 2015
Bloodshed by terrorists becomes easier when democracy is not functioning and fundamental rights and freedoms are restricted. In such cases, protectors are hindered while dogs are released.
Freedom of the press must be given a special place among other freedoms. In a country where the press is under pressure, no one can prevent terrorists from freely moving around. If journalists are no longer able to search for the truth and inform the public of facts, shady groups start to cause much bloodshed across the country.
The question is: If Turkey was a country where journalists could perform their functions free from pressure or violence, could those bombings in Ankara have occurred? Conspiracies won't be disclosed and plots won't be exposed to daylight and terrorists will be able to move forward, freely stepping over the corpses. Journalists are already trapped, and the public can be manipulated through lies and any murder can be covered up.
I was quite hopeful when I went to the İstanbul Courthouse on Saturday morning. I was hoping that Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş would be released by the court but to our dismay, he was sent to jail. A journalist's duty is to report news, but such news stories make you forget about your profession. You learn that dozens of people have died and hundreds of others have been wounded. You try to learn about what happened to your journalist colleague who is arrested at a time when the capital of the country is hit by bloodshed. It becomes important to understand the cause of this nightmare falling upon us. As Keneş's lawyers read aloud his condolences for those who died in the massacre in Ankara, you feel you are being pressed down.
Keneş is a highly experienced and knowledgeable journalist. His doctoral dissertation was on Turkey's ties with Iran. He is one of the few experts in the country who can give us insight into the regional problems that are getting increasingly complicated. It sounds like a bad joke, but terrorists were planning to stage a big massacre while he was incarcerated in a small cell at the counterterrorism branch during the night.
If he hadn't been detained, Keneş would have arrived at the newspaper's headquarters in the Yenibosna district of İstanbul and he would have been holding an editorial meeting at the time the bombings occurred. Instead of sending his condolences through his lawyers, he would focus on the massacre in Ankara and go through all the possibilities and make an analysis. He would report his findings and comments to his readers. Keneş's comments would emerge as a factor that those who are behind the bombings must take into account.
High standards of democracy and an open society constitute the biggest obstacles to terrorism. Journalists are more effective than the police in counterterrorism and in averting such violent massacres. Security authorities collect intelligence on attempted attacks and catch the perpetrators. Journalists, on the other hand, bring conspiracies, political intrigues and terrorists' plans to daylight, thereby effectively warding off them. Indeed, terrorism mainly follows propaganda. Blood will be spilled and news reports by the media will give the desired effect. We define terrorism as violent acts that seek to obtain political results. Therefore, an act of terrorism is supposed to contribute to a specific political propaganda target. Journalists disclose these targets and tools used and those who mastermind terror attacks feel themselves to be caught red-handed. This is the very reason why acts of terrorism that seek to provoke the public fail to achieve their goals in democratic and free countries.
Keneş is one of the journalists who can analyze the purpose of the massacre in Ankara in the best way. Actually, all journalists who are experts in analyzing acts of terrorism are under heavy pressure in Turkey. The recent increase in acts of terrorism in the country can be attributed primarily to the very climate that prevents journalists like Keneş from doing their job.