At this stage of events in Turkey, I am at a loss for words.
It pains me to be a spectator, as all of society is paralyzed, when the delicate process of democratic transition is brutally hijacked by a single politician.
What has happened further with and within the media has led me — in a depressed state of mind — to the depths of my memory.
Let me take you back to what I wrote more than three years ago:
“The media sector in Turkey lost, long ago, its compass and spirit of solidarity. It is now ruled by deep polarization and mutual mistrust. It was a massive pro-militarism hand-in-hand with ‘owner loyalty’ that destroyed what remained of good journalism in the ’90s.”
“Journalists — some of them naively — became tools of power struggles in a sharply complex milieu; others, disguised as ‘journalists,’ were in the service of (secret parts of) the state, bureaucracy and [media] proprietors.”
“It made all of us personally vulnerable, professionally fragile and in desperate need of independence. This state leaves us with a press that is losing its grip on a crucial role in Turkey’s delicate process of transformation into a full democracy.”
“We may continue to discuss only the victims of the recent process, but it is time for the media to confront itself with the root causes of the condition that it is in.”
This was from an article titled “Journalists arrested, media taken hostage” (March 9, 2011), published by Today’s Zaman days after the arrests of my colleagues Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener.
It went on to say:
“Şık is an old friend of mine. I do not have the slightest doubt about his commitment to good journalism, which was proven by his bold work in the weekly Nokta some years ago.”
“Ahmet did continue to work in daily Radikal, and was fired. He fought legally and won his case, but was not allowed to come back [to Radikal]. Many of those who today protest Şık’s arrest are the ones who never reacted then.”
The day after their release, on March 13, 2012, I wrote in an article titled “Nothing but justice”:
“When 58 percent of Turkey voted ‘yes’ to a referendum in September 2010, there was a great expectation that it would speed up judicial reform and swiftly bring justice. Since the referendum, there has been only disappointment. The judicial system, vital in transition processes, has continued to be harmful, instead of being helpful, to transformation. Let everyone now hope that 2012 will be the year of these critical trials.”
“The release of two colleagues, Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, is the strongest signal yet that Turkey’s chronically ill justice system is acknowledging one of its gravest flaws. … Fewer and fewer of Turkey’s friends have been, with weaker and weaker arguments, able to support Turkey’s policy on human rights, in particular since the June 12  elections.”
“Şener and Şık’s release precedes the announced reforms to Turkey’s ill-faring judiciary. But it should still be seen as linked to the reforms. The court decided not to wait for the reform [packages] … and issued a statement, which included arguments in favor of the freedom of the journalists. … This is what should have been done, not only in the case of Şık and Şener, but also in other key cases of Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, etc.”
And, at the end of 2014, we are where we are:
In the heart of a debacle, with a judiciary kneeling down and with justice fading away.
I am generally seen as gloomy regarding Turkey, in particular its media, and I regret deeply to be proven right.
The mentality and conditions that years ago led to the imprisonment of journalists have not changed.
It is just that power has firmly and systematically further stifled journalism and repressed free speech, reaching the point of strangulation.
It is just that the list of victims has become longer.
Those that have now become the new symbols of oppression are Ekrem Dumanlı and Hidayet Karaca, two prominent names in the imploding domain of Turkish media.
And even today Turkish journalists — the majority of whom are still fiercely partisan — are at each other’s throats, instead of looking into the root causes of oppression.
When the system finally exterminates all that is good in the name of journalism, only then will they realize — far too late — that what they stood for was one of those causes.