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July 7, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8835

Turkish Journalist Sentenced To Prison Compares Turkish Government Control Of Media To Nazi Germany: 'The Government Controls 95% Of The Media'

July 7, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8835

In a July 2, 2020 column titled "From Hitler To Our Time" in the Turkish daily Sözcü, investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan, who is one of six journalists from Sözcü sentenced to prison in December 2019,[1] compared the Turkish government's control and oppression of the country's media to that of Nazi Germany, saying: "Close to 100 years have passed, and that awful regime that was a terrible curse on humanity is long gone, but we in this country, in the 21st century, under a system that is called 'democratic,' are still living with its residue! On the one side there is no fairness and justice has been seized. Oppression and scare tactics. On the other side are lies and, despite everything, rosy paintings!"[2]


Turkish investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan (source: Sozcu.com.tr)

Çölaşan describes government control of the media and the "lies" which that media broadcasts: "The government controls 95 percent of the media. Almost all of the television [channels] and newspapers are at their command and at their service. And to be frank, the government knows very well how to use them for their own interests. However, the lies and the rosy paintings presented every day to the Turkish nation have become nauseating." He criticizes the government, saying: "After they captured the administration of the country, they never set foot in a deli, in a grocery, or in a market... They never leave the mansions and the palaces in which they live, they do not know the prices or living conditions, they do not hear the ordinary citizen."

On July 1, a day before the column was published, there were reportedly "insults" posted on social media to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Esra and her husband Berat Albayrak, who is also the country's finance minister. Sixteen people were detained relative to the social media posts, of whom two were arrested, and processes concerning the detention of another 15, four of whom are outside of Turkey, have been started.[3] It is difficult, if not impossible, to find the precise content of the relevant social media posts, possibly because the government may take legal action against any outlet or social media user who republishes them. President Erdoğan said in speech that day: "We want immediately to bring this to parliament and for the social media channels to be completely removed and controlled... Do you understand why we are against social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Netflix? To be able to sweep away such immorality."[4]

On July 6, Turkish parliament announced that in the coming days a regulation regarding government control of social media would be presented. These new controls would include: the ability of Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) to block WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Telegram in Turkey; a requirement that social media companies have representation in Turkey; a requirement that user information be stored in Turkey; the authority of the BTK and the Turkish gendarmerie to inspect the "social media sites," likely referring to the companies' offices, in Turkey; punishments to be given to social media companies if those companies do not remove social media content about which they have been warned; the ability to block certain content; and fines to be given to social media companies that reject without reason users' requests that certain content be removed.[5]

Following is the text of Çölaşan's column.

"The Government Controls 95% Of The Media... However, The Lies And Rosy Paintings Presented Every Day To The Turkish Nation Have Become Nauseating"

"My dear readers, we are all the people of this country. We all experience together the bitter and sweet events and all the positive and negative developments. And most of us are harmed by what is going on. If you have any, put your 'positive(!)' views aside, talk to the people from all sections of our society and hear with your own ears what they have to say. Officers, workers, retired people, shopkeepers, artists, taxi-drivers, barbers, the self-employed, whomever you come across, try to get them to open up a bit.

"Excluding those who say: 'That's fine but, brother, they are Muslims,' who live without knowing the realities of the country, who have internalized being utterly submissive,[6] and the certain sections [of society] who have managed to turn a corner through profiteering, you will not hear positive words from anyone concerning their own living conditions and this government.

"But on the other side, the situation is very different! The government controls 95% of the media. Almost all of the television [channels] and newspapers are at their command and at their service. And to be frank, the government knows very well how to use them for their own interests. However, the lies and rosy paintings presented every day to the Turkish nation have become nauseating."

"'Everything Is Squared Away!'... 'The Citizens Are Happy!' These Are All Lies – All Rubbish"

"In Nazi Germany, Hitler had a very famous propaganda minister: Joseph Goebbels. In those days, there was no television and no internet. The Hitler regime seized and took over all the media, which comprised radio and newspapers. It was never possible to raise a contrary voice, to criticize, to write the truth.

"Goebbels, who was an expert in telling lies and tricking society, would get on the radio every day and hold forth. The liar's world-famous saying on administrations that put their nations to sleep was: 'Let no one trouble themselves with small lies. To make society believe, you must either tell big lies, or you will hide the facts and not say anything. The bigger the lie, the more society will believe it!'

"Now they want to make Turkey live through this process, too. 'Everything is squared away!' 'Soon it will be much better!' 'We are progressing quickly on the path to being the 10th biggest economy in the world!' 'The citizens are happy!' These are all lies. All rubbish."

"They Never Leave The Mansions And The Palaces In Which They Live"

"Why are those who trying to put us to sleep with a bunch of lies doing so? Because they do not have, even for a day in their lives, the smallest contact with the ordinary citizen, not even from a distance. In fact, after they captured the administration of the country, they never set foot in a deli, in a grocery, or in a market. They could not be troubled to look at prices. They never leave the mansions and the palaces in which they live, they do not know the prices or living conditions, they do not hear the ordinary citizen. They have no contact with the people except for the iftar shows that they put on during Ramadan.

"Goebbels, who was one of the greatest experts who has ever lived of telling lies, of frightening, intimidating, and silencing society, applied the same tactic years ago: 'You will present such rosy paintings to the crowds whom you command, and make them dream such dreams that they will believe they are real! Someone can say something crazy and they will not care, and if necessary you can crush them with oppression. In the end, your big lies will help you! But for this to work, you must sustain a brain-washing campaign without stopping. Radio and newspapers are extraordinarily important for this. You must know how know how to keep them at your command and under your hand.' (As I said, in Hitler's time there were no televisions or websites or social media. Media comprised only radio and newspapers.)"

"That Awful Regime That Was A Terrible Curse On Humanity Is Long Gone, But We In This Country, In The 21st Century, Under A System That Is Called 'Democratic,' Are Still Living With Its Residue!"

"My dear readers, now come and let's briefly try to compare Hitler's time with Turkey today. There was great oppression of the media at that time. (The same is true for us!) German media was taken under pressure by the Nazi regime and silenced. (The same is taking place in Turkey.) They wanted to make society consume sweet dreams and rosy paintings. (The same is true for us.) The oppression and censorship reached unbelievable dimensions. Opposition journalists were judged and thrown in prison.

"We are living through the same process now in Turkey. How terrible! Close to 100 years have passed, and that terrible regime that was a terrible curse on humanity is long gone, but we in this country, in the 21st century, under a system that is called 'democratic,' are still living with its residue! On the one side there is no fairness and the justice [system] has been seized. Oppression and scare tactics. On the other side are lies and, despite everything, rosy paintings!"

 

[2] Sozcu.com.tr/2020/yazarlar/emin-colasan/hitlerden-gunumuze-5905714, July 2, 2020.

[3] Sozcu.com.tr/2020/gundem/son-dakika-bakan-albayrak-ve-ailesine-hakarete-tutuklama-5907005, July 2, 2020.

[4] Hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/sosyal-medyada-hakaret-onlemi-41555141, July 2, 2020.

[5] Cnnturk.com/teknoloji/tbmm-netflix-erisim-engeli-hakkinda-aciklama-yapti, July 6, 2020.

[6] Çölaşan here uses a Turkish expression meaning "being utterly submissive" that translates literally to "being a slave of a slave."

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