By Ron Merk
I have a good friend in Turkey, and he has a close friend who’s a journalist named Ece Temelkuran. She has been hassled by the Turkish government for more than two years because of something that she wrote to the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.
When we talk about freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the USA, we understand that these words have a certain amount of meaning and weight, and reality. But in Turkey, where the right-wing Islamic party which rules the country is in power, journalists and newspapers and even TV stations can be stopped, closed down or worse when they print anything that criticizes the government.
Much of what we readily see and read about the demonstrations that have been going on in Turkey for the past few weeks is NOT being seen on Turkish TV, heard on their radio, or read in their newspapers. Turks are getting this news from the internet, YouTube, Facebook and all the social media that often is filled with fluff and personal nonsense.
This is the true value of social media, especially in times of virtual dictatorship. While we have no way of judging the voracity of anything on the internet, nor do we understand the reasons for someone posting something, images and and sounds are hard to deny or reject. Over 5000 injured in these demonstrations against the Turkish government’s plan to pull up trees from Gezi Park in Istanbul and build yet another shopping mall. Several dead. I’ve seen the pictures, and some pictures are simply impossible to fake. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Ms. Temelkuran has recently written a direct open letter to the Prime Minister, calling him Commander, and asking why he’s treating everyone in such a bad way. It is very ironic and in some ways comical the way she writes to him, and I think it’s worth looking at.
For those of us who do not have to worry about saying anything (unless we’re inciting a riot or trying to induce others to commit acts of treason), I have to tell you that Ece Temelkuran is a brave soul, standing naked in the light of the Turkish regime, and in danger every moment. Yet she continues to raise her voice. Would we be as brave if we were in her position?