Since the violent crackdown on the Gezi Park-Taksim Square occupation of 2013, Erdogan and the AKP government of turkey have sought by almost every means to silence dissent in the country: from the persecution of those who participated in the nationwide protests inspired by Gezi, to the arrest of lawyers and doctors who aided occupiers, to the incarceration of journalists and the closure of newspapers. This would soon be followed by the persecution, arrest and the murder of Leftist (in “terrorist” bombings, such as in Ankara in 2015), clandestine support for ISIS as a tool against the Rojava revolution, a war on the eastern “kurdish” towns of turkey, killing hundreds and forcefully dislocating thousands, and military interventions in syria and iraq … and so on. And since the coup attempt of 2016, as power is increasingly concentrated in the figure of the president, all of these measures have only intensified.
We have tried to follow these events in Autonomies, but the latter often surpass our capacity to keep up. Ignorance of the turkish language among members of the collective also render the exercise difficult. Fortunately, we have at times been able to rely on individual sources from within turkey, but more often than not, we have depended on alternative english language media coming out of the country.
It is with this latter in mind that we today express solidarity with the turkish sendika news collective, after the arrest of the organisation’s director in the wake of the April 16th fraudulent referendum that only serves as a fig leaf for Erdogan’s growing power.
With Sendika, we share a statement made by the collective …
“Yes” will not be legitimized, Sendika.Org will not be silenced!
The “yes” vote in the 16 April referendum is not legitimate – that’s the opinion of at least half the population, universal law and basic democratic values. Whether at our desks or on the streets, resisting against fascism with our pens, cameras, keyboards and words is the most legitimate of protests, both historically and currently. May no one doubt that will we continue to write, say and show whatever the truth is and that we will not abandon our role of being the voice of the people and reflecting the demands of the people.
An operation by the Palace of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has been attempting to impose a one-man regime with an illegitimate referendum after stealing the “no” vote of tens of millions in the 16 April referendum using the Supreme Election Board (YSK), against “no” supporters was extended to Sendika.Org early on 20 April.
Less than 24 hours after Sendika.Org Editor Ali Ergin Demirhan wrote, “Why should we consent to the daylight robbery of the referendum we won? Why should we allow a one-man regime that must be ended to perpetuate itself by gaining a legal basis with a stolen referendum?” he was detained in an early-morning raid on our offices.
The editor was formally detained on allegations that he was “organizing protests on social media while attempting to depict the results of the referendum as illegitimate” and due to “inciting people to enmity and insulting a public servant on the basis of his position.”
They have imposed a one-man regime on the people with the state of emergency. By and hook and by crook, they used the people’s resources to open the way to a “yes” vote and close it to a “no” vote, running a referendum campaign with a thousand and one lies splashed in newspapers. They declared at least half of the country to be “traitors” and “terrorists,” while threatening “no” supporters with knives, guns, truncheons, prison and civil war. As was covered by our site with news from the four corners of the country, they used every trick in the book – violating even their own laws – to ensure a “yes” vote using the YSK. Then, shamelessly, they accuse us of “attempting to depict the referendum results as illegitimate!”
Here’s a reminder in case anyone has forgotten:
As Sendika.Org, we have organized step by step over the past 16 years without any recourse to help from state or capital. From the IT infrastructure to the software, we do everything with volunteer labor and private donations on a budget that is close to zero, continuing our operations with everyone from professors to university students and union specialists to unorganized workers solely “in pursuit of a meal,” all of whom make up our volunteer writers, volunteer translators, volunteer reporters and collective editorship.
In the past 1.5 years, our site has been blocked 31 times – and counting. Ahead of the referendum, it was blocked 17 times in 17 days. Each time, however, we didn’t waste a second in defending the public’s right to acquire the news. In the face of a fascist assault, we did what was required in the battle against fascism: We continued to tell the truth.
At least 50 percent of the people – that is, tens of millions – cry that you are not legitimate. Universal law also states that you are not legitimate. The most basic democratic values also state that you are not legitimate. So are we going to remain silent?
May no one doubt that will we continue to write, say and show whatever the truth is and that we will not abandon our role of being the voice of the people and reflecting the demands of the people.
Both the referendum and its results are illegitimate, and you can’t wish this away with detentions and oppression! Just like you can’t wish away the millions who say “annul the referendum” and refuse the imposition of a one-man regime…
The battle for the freedom of the press and the right to acquire the news is one of the foundations of the struggle for democratic rights in Turkey. Whether at our desks or on the streets, resisting against fascism with our pens, cameras, keyboards and words is the most legitimate of protests, both historically and currently.
For every piece of news that we do, for every story that we publish, for every video or image that we share from the street, we will act knowing that this is all an integral part of the people’s struggle for democracy.
We call on all press organizations, all outlets that fascism seeks to close and of course all Sendika.Org volunteers to continue raising their voice for “No,” shouting the truth and acting in solidarity with Sendika.Org.
We demand the immediate release of our editor, Ali Ergin Demirhan, all journalists that have been arrested in an attempt to prevent the people from learning the truth, and all citizens that have been apprehended to silence the voice of “no” supporters.
Sendika.Org Will Not Be Silenced!