THE BLOG

We Are Being Silenced

While the Middle East is swaying gracefully under the wind of change, Turkey is slowly suffocating without free media.

Every day, bit by bit, slowly but surely, freedom of the press is being axed in my country. One day we learn that a big media holding group like Dogan Group - the country's largest - is penalized with a tax fine of billions of dollars, another day we hear that opposition journalists, writers, academics are arrested without proper charges.

And this week we woke up to another similar incident. One of Turkey's most prominent opposition news websites, ODATV.com, and the homes of its editors were raided by the Turkish police. The site's founder, Soner Yalcin, a columnist for the popular Turkish daily Hurriyet, was detained along with other editors for allegedly having links with an 'underground terrorist organization.' Yalcin, an intellectual who defends the secular system and the writer of many bestsellers in Turkey, is a critic of the ruling AKP party.

The terrorist organisation in the case, known as Ergenekon, is accused of trying to topple the current government by force. Although hundreds of people have been in prison waiting for trial for years in the highly controversial case, prosecutors still have not managed to prove the existence of this scary gang.

The ODATV website has been publishing irregularities regarding the Ergenekon case and getting enormous support from its readers. It's important to note that in coming days it was about to launch a TV channel if its office had not been raided. The fact that the country is getting ready for June elections strengthened the widespread belief that the raid was politically driven.

Many governments in the Middle East have a terrible record regarding freedom of the press, but at least none of them claims to bring 'advanced democracy' to their countries like the AKP does in Turkey. While the protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Yemen, Algeria give hope to people sick and tired of authoritarian regimes, we, the Turks, are simply watching this fresh wave with envy. We don't say much because we are silenced. But don`t be fooled. Every people sooner or later will reclaim its freedom. We are just waiting for our turn.