At first, it was noth­ing but a rumor. But Orhan Pamuk, the Turk­ish Nobel Lit­er­a­ture Prize win­ner has con­firmed : a long inter­view he had giv­en the dai­ly Hür­riyet for pub­li­ca­tion on Feb­ru­ary 13th was not pub­lished… because it con­tained crit­i­cism of the con­sti­tu­tion­al reform.

Can­su Çam­lı­bel, Hür­riyet Daily’s Wash­ing­ton rep­re­sen­ta­tive, inter­viewed Orhan Pamuk. But the paper’s edi­to­r­i­al com­mit­tee refused pub­li­ca­tion, because the writer expressed his objec­tions to the reform want­ed by the regime.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly the reports are true” Pamuk declared on the web­site, adding that Can­su Çam­lı­bel had indeed con­duct­ed a long inter­view with him dur­ing which he asked Pamuk if he would vote in favor of the reform. “I said I would vote “No” and explained the rea­sons for my deci­sion. And the inter­view was even­tu­al­ly not published.”

This cen­sor­ship of the inter­view occurs after a TV pre­sen­ter on Kanal D – which belongs to Doğan Media as does Hür­riyet – was fired last week for pub­licly stat­ing he was con­sid­er­ing vot­ing “No” at the referendum.

For back­ground, last Jan­u­ary 21st, the Turk­ish Par­lia­ment approved a con­sti­tu­tion­al reform that would hand over full pow­ers to Pres­i­dent Erdoğan. The reform will be vot­ed on in a gen­er­al ref­er­en­dum on April 16th.

As fur­ther back­ground, sev­er­al jour­nal­ists work­ing for var­i­ous news sources owned by Doğan Media have been fired these last few years for express­ing crit­i­cal viewpoints.

Doğan Media hasn’t cho­sen to water down the wine for noth­ing. Threats and attacks have led to self-cen­sor­ship. Here are a few exam­ples for a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the situation.

In ear­ly Sep­tem­ber of 2015, the offices of Doğan Media in Istan­bul were attacked on sev­er­al occa­sions. The first attack was led per­son­al­ly by AKP mem­ber Abdur­rahim Boynukalın who con­duct­ed a “raid” against Hür­riyet, because he con­sid­ered the news­pa­per “had deformed Erdoğan’s words”. Lat­er on, a mob of some hun­dred peo­ple, armed with sticks and stones, seri­ous­ly dam­aged the offices, with the police claim­ing “they could not be stopped.” Abdur­rahim Boynukalın, head of the AKP’s Youth wing and Istan­bul deputy, encour­aged the attack­ers and even made a speech sup­port­ing them. One might note he was lat­er “pro­mot­ed” to the post of Assis­tant to the Min­is­ter of Youth and Sports in Decem­ber 2016.

Still in 2015, on Octo­ber 1st, Ahmet Hakan, a Hür­riyet jour­nal­ist was attacked by four peo­ple in front of his home. He suf­fered a bro­ken nose and ribs…

As a con­se­quence, self-cen­sor­ship at Hür­riyet is noth­ing new. In a more recent exam­ple, jour­nal­ist Ayşe Arman pub­lished her Aslı Erdoğan inter­view in full on her blog, after parts of it were “cen­sored” in the news­pa­per… Oth­er prece­dents have cer­tain­ly served to dri­ve home the mes­sage. Eight years ago, in 2009, Doğan Media faced a tax adjust­ment of 1,75 bil­lion euros. This adjust­ment cer­tain­ly had a lot to do with a dis­turb­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the cor­rup­tion of some high-placed personalities…

Evi­dent­ly, the clos­ing down of media sources, the arrests of jour­nal­ists as well as the heavy sen­tences the courts are called on to impose are con­ducive to cen­sor­ship. Even of a Nobel Prize winner.

Anne Rochelle

Trans­la­tion by Renée Lucie Bourges.
French ver­sion > 
Turquie • Le prix Nobel Orhan Pamuk censuré

Image à la une : Pho­to ©Eric Bou­vet / Get­ty Images

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