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It was my last half hour to get the pages to the printing house.
The printing house wanted the paper at 18.00.
There was only one printing house left that still agreed to print us.
20 July 2016, 17:30.
Others said they could no longer stand the government’s pressure and did not print our newspaper. We sent it as far as we could with lorries. It turned out it was our last newspaper.
That half-hour was the last moment of my professional life. My freedom and the freedom of the press in my country…
I didn’t know.
As I put the tea brought by Uncle Zafer, the tea man, on my table, I did not know that I could not drink it.
There was a knock on the front door.
More precisely, there was banging on the door as if to break it. The young designer sitting at the table opposite the door stood up and looked at the screen showing the corridor.
“Somebody turned off the camera!” he shouted.
Everybody in the paper stood up where they were.
Because the door was being forced.
I’m standing, but my eyes are on my computer screen, looking at the news I’m proofreading. Suddenly there were a lot of men running in.
Like a flood
The tea in my cup was steaming.
It was very hot.
Dozens of men, whose only unmistakable words were “Police, this is a raid!” poured into the newspaper like a destructive flood.
“Get down, get down!” shouted everyone who entered.
I was standing and I’m in shock from all the swearing I heard.
I was shouting at a policeman passing by, even though he couldn’t hear me, with my hand in the air, “This is a newspaper and sir, you can’t swear.”
Actually, you can’t swear even it was not a newspaper.
“Why are you shouting! We can hear you! Don’t swear, what nonsense.”
It was like I was in a film scene.
I’m like a spectator beamed into the scene.
There was no end of police coming through the door. In a few minutes, the other police officers who had been scattered all over the newspaper gathered in the center.
A man came in with a piece of paper.
He says that the publication was stopped by a court order and that the edition of that day would be confiscated.
It’s 5.45 p.m.! That day’s newspapers were sold out. The police enforced the confiscation order by raiding the offices of the editors and designers.
Justice (Adalet) is now only a woman’s name in Turkey!
There was a warrant for the arrest of two people, the others were to be released after the search.
I was still standing.
But my male colleagues were all lying on the floor, hands on their heads, 5-6 policemen on each of them.
A man holding a piece of paper, whom the others called “Commissar”, said the names of the Editor-in-Chief, Levent Kenez and myself. The policemen in front of us put handcuffs on us.
Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation into the headline news of Meydan Newspaper published on 20 July 2016. Within a few hours, the prosecutor, who must have been inspired, concluded that the news article fell within the scope of terrorist offenses and applied to the court for a recall, and the 6th Criminal Judgeship of Peace approved the prosecutor’s application.
Lady Justice was swift, you see.
Our headline, which the prosecutor and the judge considered a terrorist offense, was about the coup and the title was ‘You knew but did not prevent it’. We were asking for an account of the night of the coup, of the 249 people killed that night, and the source of the news was the Anadolu Agency. On 19 July, AA served a news report to its subscribers with the title “Here is the day of the coup hour by hour”, but later removed the news report from publication. According to the state agency, the Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) had informed the General Staff of the coup at 16:00 on the day of the coup. According to the judge, the news item containing this information could have caused outrage and the society was in a sensitive situation, the broadcast should have been stopped!
They took him to the hospital for a medical check-up.
I was now the suspect in the sentence “Suspects taken to Vatan Security Directorate after the health check…” that I used in countless news items.
We experienced something in the police car that I will never forget.
There was a rifle in the back seat.
I don’t know the model, I don’t know anything about guns, it’s just a big gun with a long barrel. It was standing next to us.
I looked Mr Levent.
He called out to the policemen in front, “You are taking us as terrorists, you have automatic rifles with us.” The frowning policeman, who was about 50 years old, looked back as if to say that he was right, and turned to the papers in front of him.
There is terrible evening traffic in Istanbul.
Mr. Levent complains about the traffic.
He’s always in a hurry.
“Why are you in a hurry, it may be the last time we see the city, the traffic and the sky, the later we leave the better,” I say.
The cops were more nervous than we are.
We were in a room at Vatan Police Headquarters.
Many police officers came in and out during the procedures.
One of them, a fatherly type, you wouldn’t call him a policeman, in fact, he looked more like a coffee seller, greeted everyone and sat down on one of the chairs, put his hands behind his head, leaned back, “I’m tired now, they’ve canceled my leave, I’m going to ask for my retirement, my friend. Whoever comes to power fires one another”
He looked at me and said, “Tomorrow when you come to power, you’ll fire us.”
I’m thinking, “This scene is news.”
But when I remembered that I was the addressee of the man’s words, I got angry at what I was being accused of, “Not at all, sir, I’m a journalist.” There was no sir here, I should have said ‘Mr. officer’, ‘Mr. police officer’ wouldn’t have worked either.
What to tell people with prejudices!
This is the main problem in my country… Everyone interfering in the life of the other. Reading their intentions. Knowing his offense…
In other words, everyone is guilty of an offense according to their nationality, country of origin, lifestyle and clothing style, gender, and even profession. It’s certain!
Either you are reactionary, bigoted, evil, a dinosaur, or one of us…
Therefore, there have been oppressors and oppressed in every period.
There is also such a thing as ideological heritage.
You can’t renounce your inheritance.
As if passed down from father to son, each generation inherits the hatred that is the result of the previous generation’s choices.
For example, all right-wingers are potential perpetrators of the Madımak atrocity, all leftists and Kurds are terrorists, Armenians, atheists, even rockers, and so on.
I mean, mister, I’m a journalist, I’m not this and that….
They took everything we have on us, even our shoelaces, in case we commit suicide…
So many things came out of my bag that Mr. Levent said, “Why do you have ten million pieces of stuff in your bag!” You would think I would never be able to go home again.
I couldn’t go back anyway.
Then the policewoman asked for my headscarf. What do you mean? “Your headscarf too!” What’s the big deal? During the 28 February period, during the post-modern coup d’état, I was not allowed to the university with my headscarf on, so what’s the big deal! They were taking the headscarves of all women in case of suicide risk.
It’s was a scandal!
During the period of this government that fought for the freedom of headscarves and boasted that it had made them free in public institutions and schools, women were taken to detention centers…
“Kill me! I won’t give you my headscarf!” A crisis is brewing.
Mr Levent intervenes; In the news, women are always wearing headscarves when they are taken to the health check and the courthouse, obviously, they give them at the exit!
The policewoman, who had seen us during the body search, said, “You have an inner headscarf, you can stay with it.”
“But do I tell you, that you can sit in your underwear!”
In addition to my own victimization, I think that tens of thousands of hijabi women, teachers, doctors, university lecturers, civil servants, housewives, or 70-80-year-old aunts who were taken into custody for making dumplings are all going through the same thing. My heart sinks.
I am so full of anger that I want to shout at the people outside who are holding a democracy vigil and shouting slogans,
The country, justice, justice, human rights, and human rights have been lost! The headscarves of those women were taken from their heads. And that too by the government, which boasts every day in the squares that it has liberalized the headscarf.
They “graciously” let me go to the detention center wearing my headscarf.
But I just stayed in my chair. It takes hours while the police do the procedures. I just stayed there. I felt like I’m dead.
Nothing left on a corpse…
That’s how I was…
After the procedures were completed, they gave phone permission.
But I only remember my father’s number.
Maybe I remember his number because he was the strongest in the family, the play of my consciousness…
I hope I can reach them as they were on holiday.
The phone rings twice, my father answers.
What a difficult moment.
I said, “I’m fine,”
Anyway, my father didn’t talk much.
At that moment I realized the ache in my wrists.
Does the heart hurt in the wrist?
I can’t believe I’m in here.
I look at the blue bed on the floor, the walls.
I’m sitting in the corner.
The sound of people shouting slogans at the democracy watch could be heard from outside.
I couldn’t think about anything. In fact, I think about so many things at once that it’s like nothing.
I think I’m in shock.
That night was very long, but “How is it that time does not pass, but years and lives pass.” Years passed after that day.
We’re going to the prosecutor in the morning.
He’s asking me about the headline.
I’m telling them it’s agency news.
Moreover, the news that led to the suspension of our broadcast was confirmed 10 months later by the then Chief of General Staff himself. And he is now a minister.
Some of us were in, and some of us were out. But we’ve all been assassinated. We’re mortally wounded. …
Somehow the prosecutor released us. Our lawyer was in shock.
Our colleagues were waiting for us at the courthouse gate.
They could have been detained just for coming there, but they came anyway. We sat in the bakery opposite the courthouse.
A cup of tea in front of me.
It was the last tea I had with my colleagues. When can we drink again?
The day we were released, an arrest warrant was issued for Mr Levent again.
I left my house in the morning to go to work and I couldn’t come back.
For a month and a half when I stayed with my family, neither I nor they could sleep.
Because every day on television, members of the government were calling for the denunciation of your family and friends.
My presence was a danger to my family.
And every day there was a new case against me.
Journalists were arrested, their houses were raided, and our passports and press cards were canceled.
My lawyer was detained. I never heard from him after. I didn’t know the status of the cases against me.
I can’t persuade anybody to go to the prosecutor office. Everyone was afraid they’ll be arrested.
As a matter of fact, there have been such detentions so that nobody even wants to check the mailbox at my house.
I felt like I have the plague.
I was worried about my family, my colleagues.
My country was the fire inside me.
My colleagues were my disappointment.
They were in the psychology of ideological blindness and ‘don’t let me get in trouble’. And they do not realize that the reputation of journalism has been ruined because of this situation.