Hey ErdoIan!

and”The Turkey you oversaw was once a shining example and a source of hope when it came to its successful economy, its freedoms, its democracy and its modernity.
We loved you so much for the example you were setting. But now instead of that shining star of a country, we see a Turkey where journalists are imprisoned, where opposition parties are treated as enemies, where the justice system is not independent and where corruption is never questioned. This being Turkeyand’s state, there is no longer anything to distinguish it from its neighbors in the region. I watch in great wonder, sadness, and disappointment, as this all unfolds.and”
The above words are from a Western journalist — in fact, the publishing director of an important newspaper from the Arab world — during a recent and important conference organized by the World Newspaper Union (WAN-IFRA), with 1,600 media organizations from seven different continents.
The conference, attended by some 900 journalists laid clear the terrible direction things in Turkey are going these days for all to see. As members of the Zaman Group, which attends this meeting annually, there were some significant developments that made this yearand’s meeting stand out for us. For one, our own publishing director, Ekrem Dumanli, had been invited as a speaker this year but because he was barred from leaving Turkey, he wasnand’t able to come. So the plan became to have him answer questions from the organization by video conference. This whole situation was actually clear months ago, after his arrest.
Another interesting development was that the first day of this international meeting was the same day that the news hit the internet that a new attack on the Turkish free media was about to take place, in the form of the arrest of a large group of journalists, including Nazli Ilicak to Can Dandundar and others. We were shocked by the possibility of what our workplaces and colleagues back in Istanbul might be facing and this new subject became one of the main topics at this meeting.
One of the most unforgettable moments of the meeting though was without a doubt the visit paid to the Zaman stand by the president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Suleyman Uba. He said that all Nigerian journalists joined in condemning the pressures being placed on the Turkish media and noted that he would help bring the subject to the forefront of the topics discussed at the meeting. Uba then showed us a letter written by members of the union to the President of WAN-IFRA (which is actually the largest global media organization there is), Tomas Brunegard. The main point of the letter was to draw attention to the situation facing journalists in Turkey.
In his opening speech for the conference, President Tomas Brunegard touched on problems facing journalists all over the world, though he saved some particularly stinging words for the situation in Turkey, saying that, and”Turkey has become, for journalists, the worldand’s largest prison.and”
While these speeches were being delivered at the conference, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was busy threatening journalist Can Dandundar for his coverage of MIT TIR trucks bringing weapons to Syria. And as if this wasnand’t enough, he even took out a court case personally against Dandundar, calling for a life sentence. At around the same time, the news that a court case had been taken out against Aydin Dogan — of Dogan Holding, which is being fined for what it claims are political reasons — was also making its rounds in Turkey.
And so this was the atmosphere into which the video message from Dumanli was broadcast to attendees at a panel on media freedom. As it was, the fact that Dumanli himself — labeled by the president as a founder of a terrorist group and thus banned from leaving the country — could not attend this conference was already a big enough indicator of how serious things in Turkey have become.
When he said, and”I leave my home every day not sure if Iand’ll return in the evening, and it is with this feeling that I bid farewell to my children in the mornings,and” the journalists in the salon were clearly touched. The strong applause that greeted his closing remarks, and”whatever the price of freedom is, we are prepared to pay it,and” were an indication of the human and professional sense of solidarity among conference attendees.
The tableau at this point is pretty clear: Only 20 percent of the world lives in countries with democracies and free media. The rest of the world lives under authoritarian regimes of varying types. The critical question that concerns everyone in our country is whether we will remain a part of the smaller democratic picture, or whether we will fall into the large league of undemocratic countries. As citizens, it is the stance we embrace on this journey that will determine how much we actually deserve democracy.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman