Kurdish journalists – the Achilles heel of the state
Sancar started by talking about the most recent arrest of Kurdish journalists on 25 October. He said that government was depended on the perpetuation of its policies of war “with its military approach to the Kurds domestically, and its operations in the [Kurdish] region”, imagining that in this way it would “consolidate its own supporter base, divide the opposition and strengthen nationalist feeling for going into the elections”, and that the new disinformation law, approved by the Turkish parliament on 13 October, was the latest tool in the state’s arsenal to silence the opposition and intimidate the community.
“They want to silence the journalists who shout the loudest, who take the most critical approach, who chase the news and the facts,” he said, recalling that there had been another recent sweep of Kurdish journalist arrests earlier in the year. “These are people who use all means and push all opportunities to the limit to report the news, especially about the administration’s war policies. They are the state’s Achilles heel”, he said.
Head of Turkish Medical Association arrest
With regard to the recent arrest of the head of the Turkish Medical Association Şebnem Korur Fincancı following her remarks upon seeing videos of Kurdish guerrillas said to have suffered a chemical attack, that Turkey’s use of chemical weapons should be investigated, Sancar commented that the opposition (referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party) was constrained by an unspoken agreement imposed on them by the government to retain the nature of the state, “when the state itself is the matter under discussion the opposition either acts more deliberately, or remains silent, as in the case of Şebnem Korur Fincancı”.
Plans for the Centenary of the Turkish Republic and a new Constitution
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not extend an invitation to the HDP for a meeting to plan the Centenary of the Turkish Republic. Sancar said this was not unexpected, as the HDP was the party most vilified by the government. He remarked that this was the start of the AKP’s election campaign, “but at the same time as they say, ‘there will be no polarisation’, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and the Kurdish journalists are being imprisoned, and they are running a discourse of hatred and a campaign of hostility, lies and disinformation.”
Noting that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was making noises about a new Constitution, Sancar agreed that there was a need for one, pointing out that, “Constitutions carry the spirit of the times and conditions in which they are drawn up. The one that was drawn up after the 1980 military coup naturally carries the spirit of the coup,” but stating that the AKP was using this as an election tactic, having already made amendments to the Constitution with regard to the Presidency, and replacing one form of tutelage with another.
The current Turkish Constitution has restrictive rules about head coverings, and the Islamist-dominated AKP has been talking about lifting these rules to allow women to cover their heads in all situations. Sancar said that the HDP had no objection to this, but called for it to be part of a wider Constitutional amendment, “The introduction of powerful statements accepting all beliefs, identities and mother language as equal.”