Turkey: Car bombings in Reyhanlı censored


14 May 2013

Franz Kafka in his immortal novel “The Trial” portrays a gloomy bureaucratic world in which Mr. K. does not know what he is accused of and he himself has to find out what his crime is. He has to produce meaning out of an utterly meaningless world. This is a Kafkaesque world.

A small court that normally deals with petty crimes in one of the remote corners of Turkey has put all of us in just such a weird world. The Peace Court in the Reyhanlı district of Hatay, in which two car bombs exploded, killing dozens and leaving hundreds wounded earlier this week, issued a “reporting ban,” applicable nationwide, about this act of terror.

The Reyhanlı Criminal Court of Peace ruling says: “It has been decided to ban all forms of audio, visual and print reporting and their broadcast of the investigation into the May 11, 2013, explosion in the town of Reyhanlı that killed and wounded many people … and anything related to the context of the incident … [and] anything to do with anything about those killed and wounded in the incident.”

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) sent the decision to all media organs in Turkey. The naked truth, concealed by this strange legal language, is a media clampdown using the imposition of a comprehensive censorship mechanism via court decision.

The court based its incredibly comprehensive censorship decision on legal justifications used by the public prosecutor’s office when it asked for a ban on reporting, saying, “Reporting in print and visual media any information and visuals related to the investigation will impair the confidentiality of the investigation and endanger its proper progress.”

This means that all news and visuals about one of the biggest terror attacks Turkey has witnessed are banned because that may impair the “confidentiality” of the investigation. If one looks at the decision carefully in the context of the political-legal framework in which it was taken, some interesting details emerge.

The prohibition on publishing documents and other information related to the prosecutor’s investigation is being used as a cover to prevent the public from learning certain facts and truths that those in power would wish to keep secret. For example, the last similar “confidentiality” decision was given about the investigation into the Uludere massacre, in which 35 Kurdish villagers were killed by the Turkish Air Forces (THK), which they thought were terrorists. This effectively prevented anyone, including the relatives of the victims, from finding out anything about the investigation.

However, the ban on reporting about the Reyhanlı bombing goes far beyond any “investigation confidentiality” we have ever witnessed in Turkey and signals an extraordinary censorship effort. In this case, the court is banning not only reporting on the prosecutor’s investigation but on anything to do with the incident.

It doesn’t seem likely that a prosecutor in a small town would demand such a comprehensive censorship decision from the legal system. It is not hard to imagine that some sort of diplomacy transpired behind closed doors and that the prosecutor was instructed by the Justice Ministry to file for such a demand.

In fact, it is obvious that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is extremely sensitive not only about this explosion but anything to do with the crisis in Syria and Turkey’s role in it, hence the effort to wrap a shroud of secrecy around it.

Obviously, the government, worried about having to answer questions on Turkey’s Syria policy in the aftermath of the terror attack, has opted to totally obstruct any such debate through a court decision obtained by manipulating the laws to the extreme. And this is really disturbing.


23:46 Gepost door Jan Boeykens in car bombings, censoring, Latest News, Turkey | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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