An open letter to Barack Obama

I face life imprisonment in connection with four articles I wrote. These articles essentially drew attention to the fact that Turkey should refrain from posing for the same photo with terrorist organizations. I noted that I was concerned about the articles that appeared in Western media outlets concerning al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and repeatedly maintained that this would spell trouble for Turkey.

Today, I am charged with being a terrorist in connection with those articles. Moreover, a TL 1.5 million reward has been offered for my arrest.

Mr. Obama, today, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dundar and the paper’s Ankara representative Erdem Gul, who do not share the same worldview with me, were sent to jail for reporting the claim that Turkey was sending weapons to Islamist terrorist organizations.

Mr. Obama, I am not writing this letter solely for my case. I am not writing it for the case of Dundar or Gul either. Nor am I writing it in connection with Mehmet Baransu, Gultekin Avcı, Hidayet Karaca or 16-year-old Facebook or Twitter users who have been arrested on charges of insulting Erdogan.

Mr. Obama, I am writing it as a foreign journalist, a democrat, a peace laborer who believed in your motto about “change” so strongly that I shouted your name along with my 2-year-old son.

Mr. Obama, whenever Turkish authorities make moves to violate media freedoms in Turkey, such as by raiding newspapers or confiscating TV channels or media groups or arresting journalists, thereby pushing the country towards hell, your administration typically issues a single sentence statement: “We are concerned.”

Mr. Obama, I do not expect you to defend freedom of the press in Turkey as a president who came to power by stressing “change.” It appears that you don’t care about the state of democracy or freedom of the press in Turkey. You won’t move a finger unless the journalist arrested in Turkey is an American journalist. American interests are more important to you than democracy. We can understand it to a certain extent. Indeed, we saw in the case of Iraq what might be the cost of introducing democracy to another country.

Mr. Obama, I have one request to make of you, but I am not writing this letter for that matter either. If you intend to make a statement about freedom of the press in Turkey, please do not be “concerned.”

Your administration has been so concerned about the state of media freedom in Turkey that we are worried that your “concerns” may evolve into a permanent anxiety disorder.

Mr. Obama, I am writing this letter so that you may “change” your “concerns about media freedoms in Turkey” as you are a president who came to power by stressing “change.” Believe me, I, as an incurable pro-Western intellectual and a pathological advocate of democracy, have never thought that I would be so “concerned” about hearing the word “concerned” so many times.

Mr. Obama, as a person who was subjected to pressure in Turkey and who is thankful for US democracy and America’s tolerance and generosity on this Thanksgiving Day, and who admires the way they promote democratic values, I have started to be “concerned” that the US will be “concerned” whenever a blow is dealt to media freedom in Turkey.

Mr. Obama, the people in Turkey who believe in Western values have started to feel disgust from the word “concerned” you use to refer to the state of freedom of the press in Turkey. Please do not be “concerned”; I write this letter so that you may stop being “concerned,” else many people will be disgusted with that word.

Mr. Obama, let me be fair as even your used-up concerns give some relief to us journalists in Turkey. But it is just a relief. Alternatively, you may tell your strategic partner Erdogan to finish us off so that we will never need that relief either.

This way you may maintain your strategic ties with Turkey without being “concerned.”


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