’Police relied on brutality and tear gas, while Constitution guided me during Ipek Media seizure’

Mahmut Tanal, a deputy from the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) who has attracted attention for his objections to the confiscation of the ipek Media Group by trustees accompanied by nearly 1,000 police officers on Wednesday, has said that some of the officers acted like the governmentand’s police force rather than that of the state and the people during the seizure.
Tanal spoke to Todayand’s Zaman on Friday regarding his efforts to prevent the confiscation, along with the efforts of the editorial boards, journalists and workers from the five critical media outlets — Bugandun TV, Kanaltandurk, the Bugandun daily, the Millet daily and Kanaltandurk radio andndash that were unlawfully seized in a government-led police operation. He said some members of the police department, particularly several police chiefs, relied on brutal methods, such as firing pepper spray at journalists and the people gathered in front of the groupand’s headquarters to show support, while he was guided by the Constitution and democratic principles.
Tarik Toros, who was the general manager of the Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk news channels until they their headquarters were stormed by police officers and forcibly confiscated, told Todayand’s Zaman on Thursday that seeing Tanal crying after failing to prevent the seizure was among the moments that touched him the most during the police intervention.
andquotI have been a jurist for more than a quarter of a century, and I internalized the vital principles of the law. I have always observed the law and defended the rights of those who have been subjected to injustice and unlawful treatment, regardless of their ideological views, religions, beliefs or ethnic origins. I have done my best to stop such violations by offering legal assistance and moral support to those whose rights have been violated in the past and now. That is why I reject all accusations trying to show me as a partisan or a sympathizer of any faith group, movement or ideology, since I have only dedicated myself to the rule of law by taking sides with whose rights were trampled on,andquot Tanal told Todayand’s Zaman.
Tanal elaborated on how he has always aligned himself with the law, recalling that his leg was broken when he tried to climb over the police barricades erected in order to prevent people from taking part in a trial hearing at a courthouse where the defendants in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer)oup cases were tried.
andquotI was labeled a and’militantand’ by the pro-government media, including by the group whose rights I now am fighting to defend. Still, it has never deterred me in terms of taking sides with those who are subjected to unlawful government practices,andquot Tanal said.
In relation to the hours-long police intervention on the ipek Media Group headquarters, Tanal stressed that the assignment of trustees to the group was made according to Article 133 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which makes such an assignment possible if a company is found to have link to a terrorist organization or is supplying weapons to a terrorist group, adding: andquotNot even a single pocket-knife was found during a series of police investigations and searches of the groupand’s headquarters. So, how can the group be linked to this accusation? The whole legal process looking into ipek Media, from beginning to the end, is full of contradictions and unlawfulness.
andquotIf you really want to understand whether a well-functioning democracy exists in a country, you have to observe whether freedom of the press is upheld by the political authority or if the media is silenced. It is the most important litmus test for all other freedoms. If authoritarianism prevails in a country, then only those media outlets that run stories supporting the governmentsand’ outlook are allowed to survive,andquot Tanal noted.
Like many others, Tanal was also subjected to police brutality on Wednesday. He was kicked by several police officers while trying to convince some police chiefs that their seizure was unlawful.
Tanal commented that some police chiefs acted as if they are members of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) youth branches rather than the police force of the state and the people because of their excessive force against all who resisted.
About crying in the face of an obvious violation of the law by the police, Tanal said: andquotWhen I saw that I had failed to convince the police to stop the unlawful intervention, I showed a reaction that is part of human nature: I burst into tears.andquot