Not to speak of the war, not to write about the war. Such is the cen­sor­ship set up in Turkey.

This cen­sor­ship, how­ev­er, is accom­pa­nied by an unin­ter­rupt­ed stream of pub­li­ca­tions in the media of regime pro­pa­gan­da, going as far as applaud­ing war crimes while speak­ing of the “Oper­a­tion Sources of Peace” in North­ern Syr­ia. An arti­cle by Irfan Aktan.

Türkçe (Duvar) | Français | English

This is not a war

This is not a war.

Call­ing what is going on a “war” is pro­hib­it­ed. A per­ti­nent decision.

What is ongo­ing is not a war. Every­body knows that.

But it is for­bid­den to say what it is, this thing that is not a war.

It is for­bid­den to write about it, or to talk about it.

If you write about the war, it is for­bid­den to write “war”, you must write “peace”.

The planes we see are not war planes. The bombs on which are inscribed names of “jour­nal­ists” are not bombs.1

Those who call them­selves “war cor­re­spon­dents” are not war cor­re­spon­dents, but “oper­a­tion correspondents”.

For a long time, we said “jour­nal­ism is not a crime”. No, jour­nal­ism is a crime.

On the faces of those who claim to prac­tice jour­nal­ism at a time when jour­nal­ism is for­bid­den, the make­up is kaki-colored.

But the time is their time.

The time belongs to those who sign the bombs, to those who call per­sons refus­ing the war and call­ing for peace “forg­ers”, the time of those who lean up against their State, their tanks, their weapons and give you the fin­ger, spew­ing threats around them, and who use ruins as back­drops for their makeup.

In only two days, once again we have seen among whom we live. The jour­nal­ist who cozies up to the strongest is a sol­dier, the lawyer, the politi­cian, the ecol­o­gist, the soc­cer play­er, the come­di­an, the musi­cian, the singer even the pseu­do oppo­nent is a soldier.

Nowa­days, such is the law: either you are a sol­dier or you are look­ing for trou­ble. Those who don’t fear trou­ble are in a sor­ry state, those who fear it are in a state even worse.

But there does exist a road for every­one: talk­ing may be for­bid­den, but keep­ing qui­et isn’t for­bid­den yet.

This is why as shame re-emerges, in this peri­od where those unable to speak turn their faces the oth­er way to talk of oth­er things “of dai­ly life”.

If it is for­bid­den to speak about the big truth, each word on anoth­er top­ic becomes a hostage to those hid­ing the truth.

May this be inscribed in Hisotry: it is a crime for the pris­on­er to say he is a pris­on­er and even a crime that he not say loud and clear, that he not holler “I am free and I am grate­ful” .

A quote from Niet­zche whom I read in my uni­ver­si­ty years has stayed engraved in my mem­o­ry: “All unspo­ken truths are poisonous.”

We are poisoned.

We are poi­soned by the fact of not being able to say what we see.

This year, the Nobel Prize for lit­er­a­ture was giv­en to Peter Hand­ke, who sup­port­ed the war crim­i­nal Milo­se­vic. Appar­ent­ly he him­self was sur­prised. No comment.

Back in 2016 the prize was award­ed to the world poet Bob Dylan. And as Dylan said in his song “It’s alright, Ma, I’m only bleed­ing”, “And if my thought-deams could be seen/they’d prob­a­bly put my head in a guil­lo­tine”.

And may this also be inscribed for His­to­ry: say­ing we are under the guil­lo­tine is also a crime.

Ha, and may that serve you as a lesson.

In oth­er news last week, Kara Plak pub­lished all the words from Bob Dylan’s songs in Turkish.

So let’s leave the final words to the mas­ter with a few vers­es from Bal­lad of Don­ald White:

And there’s dan­ger on the ocean
Where the salt sea waves split high
And there’s dan­ger on the battlefield
Where the shells of bul­lets fly
And there’s dan­ger in this open world
Where men strive to be free
And for me the great­est danger
Was in society

So I asked them to send me back
To the insti­tu­tion home
But they said they were too crowded
For me they had not room

I got down on my knees and begged
‘Oh, please put me away’
But they would not lis­ten to my pleas
Or noth­ing I would say

İrf­an Aktan

İrfan Aktan began in journalism in 2000 on Bianet. He has worked as a journalist, a correspondent or an editor for l’Express, BirGün, Nokta, Yeni Aktüel, Newsweek Türkiye, Birikim, Radikal,, He was the Ankara representative for IMC-TV. He is the author of two books: “Nazê/Bir Göçüş Öyküsü” (Nazê/A tale of exodus ), “Zehir ve Panzehir: Kürt Sorunu” (Poison and antidote: The Kurdish Question). He presently writes for l’Express, Al Monitor, and Duvar.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
*A word to English-speaking readers: in all instances where the original text is in Turkish or Kurdish, the English version is derived from French translations. Inevitably, some shift in meaning occurs with each translation. Hopefully, the intent of the original is preserved in all cases. While an ideal situation would call for a direct translation from the original, access to information remains our main objective in this exercise and, we hope, makes more sense than would a translation provided by AI…
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