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Two women journalists critical of militarism targeted by nationalist newspaper

(BIANET/IFEX) - The nationalist "Tercuman" newspaper has targeted journalists Perihan Magden and Ece Temelkuran for expressing their anti-militarist opinions. BIANET fears that this is a frightening repeat of what happened to Hrant Dink.

The "Halka ve Olaylara Tercuman" ("Interpreter of the People and Events") newspaper was one of the newspapers which did not cover the one-year anniversary of Hrant Dink's murder on their front page. Hrant Dink's articles in the "Agos" newspaper were often deliberately misread, which made him a public target. He was tried and sentenced for "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301. On 19 January 2007, he was murdered by a nationalist young man (see IFEX alerts of 15 November, 2 October, 13 July, 2 April, 23 and 19 January 2007).

One year later, on 19 January 2008, the "Tercuman" newspaper made targets of journalists Magden and Temelkuran.

The journalists became targets for their articles related to a Turkish flag which high school students had made from their own blood and sent to the General Staff. Chief of General Staff Yasar Buyukanit had shown the flag to journalists the previous week, expressing his pride in the children. The "Tercuman" newspaper had even distributed promotional copies of this "flag" to its readers.

Both Magden and Temelkuran had reacted to the flag in their columns. On 15 January, Magden had written an article entitled "Flag of Blood", in which she condemned the militarist, war-mongering and violent atmosphere which had inspired the children to conduct such an act. She also condemned Buyukanit's reaction. Her article ended: "No one should die on this soil anymore. There should be no more odes to being killed and killing in this country. Let there be no applause and tears for such pathological expressions on this soil. Let there be no more discourse of 'martyrs'."

Temelkuran had written an article entitled "Bloodflag, Flagblood" on 18 January, in which she had said: "If only this noise, which makes flags out of children and dead children out of flags, would end."

In an article entitled "These women have lost their way", which included their photographs, the "Tercuman" newspaper said: "While reactions against the flag-enemy Magden are continuing, another ugly (person) has emerged. Ece Temelkuran has also had the cheek to insult the Turkish flag and has committed a crime (. . .). Reactions continue to flood in against 'Radikal' newspaper journalist Perihan Magden, whose name has been associated with polemics recently, and her ugly words, which are remote from a Turkish identity."

A week before his murder, Hrant Dink had written about why he had been made a public target.

He argued that it had started with an article published in the "Agos" newspaper, in which he had written that Sabiha Gokcen, Turkey's first female pilot and a protégé of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was Armenian.

When the "Hurriyet" newspaper cited this article, the mainstream media caught on. Then the General Staff of the Turkish Army made a statement warning that "such a [national] symbol should not become a topic of debate under any circumstance." Not much time passed before Dink became the first writer to be sentenced for "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301, for a newspaper article which he had written with the opposite intentions.

If you now change the names, subjects and dates, it becomes obvious that this case parallels that of Dink.

The "Tercuman" newspaper has accused the two writers of committing crimes for saying that "nobody should die" and reacting against those praising death. On the anniversary of Hrant Dink's death, we were reminded of where such accusations can lead. BIANET stresses that it is time to react before it is too late.

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