Takeover of Ipek media outlets unites opposition parties around democracy and freedom

The unlawful government-led operation to seize the ipek Media Group at dawn on Wednesday has led the countryand’s opposition political parties to unite around democratic principles and defend the freedom of press, Tarik Toros, the fired general manager of the Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk news channels, said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, an Ankara-based court ordered the takeover of Koza ipek Holding, which owns the ipek Media Group, appointing trustees to run its five critical media outlets — Bugandun TV, Kanaltandurk, the Bugandun daily, the Millet daily and the Kanaltandurk radio station. The outlets, owned by businessman Akin ipek, were confiscated based on an expert opinion that that their financial records were implausibly clean.
Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman, Toros said that the trustees, accompanied by police officers, broke down the door of the media groupand’s headquarters at dawn even though they did not have an official order or document authorizing them to do so. andquotNeither the trustees nor the police officers who conducted the operation replied to our requests to learn the justification behind the raid. Our friends, readers and audiences were subjected to police brutality as hundreds of officers violently dispersed the crowd of people in front of the building, firing pepper spray and water cannon without issuing any warnings. Some journalists working at the group were beaten and others were injured during the police crackdown,andquot Toros said.
Toros said that the trustees then entered the building, despite failing to produce upon request an official order showing their right to take over the media outlets. andquotThese actions were an explicit violation of Article 30 of the Constitution, which secures freedom of the press. What we faced yesterday was a de facto occupation by the hand of the state. It was an operation to seize a media group by police force and cruelty and without any official documents,and” he said.
He also stressed that the purpose of the trustees were not to take control of the media group but simply to take dissident outlets off the air in order to silence Bugandun TV, Kanaltandurk and the newspapers. andquotHowever, they were initially unable to take the channels off the air because the operation was planned very poorly. When I learnt that they had entered the studio to cut the broadcast, I immediately went to the broadcast room to prevent them from taking the control. Because they failed to present an official document, I asked them to leave the place and they went out of the room. I then locked myself and several colleagues in the studio so they would be unable to enter. We then set up another live broadcast that lasted nearly 10 hours in which I and many people from political particles who were there to uphold freedom of the press and the audienceand’s right to information spoke about the unlawful nature of the seizure,andquot Toros said.
When asked why the media group had been targeted by the government just days before the Nov. 1 general election, Toros replied: andquotBugandun TV has been a platform for opposition parties to express themselves and their commitments to voters everywhere in society. This has apparently made the government uneasy. The government is annoyed because we have taken sides with freedom of expression and provided a platform for opposition groups in the country. Bugandun TV was among the top three news channels [in Turkey], watched from Anatolia to western parts of the country. Moreover, the channel was a source of news for people who the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AK Party is trying to reach. Bugandun TV has not just been critical of the government but offers a platform for all kinds of political views. This was unacceptable for the ruling party and it is why we were silenced days before the election.andquot
Toros added that it was more difficult for the election to be fair and transparent and for the results to be announced in a fair manner in the absence of two key TV channels. andquotThat is why the Cihan news agency, which is almost the only media platform that will report on the election process and its results honestly and fairly, is so important for voters in terms of reaching impartial news about the election,and” he said.
h2 and’I will never forget Tanal crying after failing to stop the police from entering the buildingand’h2 Despite the takeover of the ipek Media Group, Toros believes that its seizure has led to the opposition parties coming together for the first time around democratic principles such as freedom of press and opposition to the unlawful practices of the government.
Representatives from the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) all attended the protests outside the media group, along with those working for the news outlets, and tried to stop the unlawful takeover.
When what he would not forget about the day, Toros said: andquotI will never forget Bugandun columnist Nazli Ilicak calling veteran journalists on her mobile phone to ask them to come and support us during a live broadcast. Another moment that touched me a lot was CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal crying after he failed to stop the police from breaking into the building. Minutes after the police entered the building, Tanal came to my office and cried, saying, and’I was unable to stop them.and’ Another incident was Halk TV and Bengandu TV launching a joint broadcast with Bugandun TV in an effort to support us. I am really grateful to them for what they did. I had a lump in my throat when I saw this. I sincerely thank them for their historic support.andquot

SOURCE: TODAYS ZAMAN