Musa Kart, was in the European Parliament at an event highlighting the desperate situation for press and media workers in Turkey. Her speech is below.
To Wake Up To The Same Day
Everyday we are waking up to the same day. It has been exactly 184 days today. Our relatives, who devoted their lives to independent and objective journalism, opposed to every terrorism with courage to live in a more democratic country have been jailed with absurd and unreasonable blames and are kept captive and in isolation.
Think of a newspaper that provides transportation every day of the week for one of its jailed journalist’s visitation. Every day, on the upper right hand corner of its first page it displays the photos of its jailed journalists and the number of days they have been away from their freedom, loved ones, and pens.
It is not very easy to describe our anger intertwined with sadness. Our children were compelled to mature quickly during this period.
Twelve years ago, the Prime Minister of the time took my husband, Musa Kart, to court because he had drawn him as a cat in his cartoon. Maybe, this was the first signal of the terrible situation we were about to come in terms of freedom of press and freedom of speech. Who knows…
As you know, Turkey is going through a very difficult and historic time. Instead of identifying the people involved in the 15 July 2016 coup attempt, including the political base, with a serious legal investigation, government transformed it into an opposition witch-hunt by declaring state of emergency.
The way my husband described this as “every possible opposition were thrown into a bag that was prepared well in advance” and a political operation was begun to silence the Cumhuriyet newspaper where my husband worked as a cartoonist for many years.
Cumhuriyet is an independent and objective newspaper grounded on secular, democratic, and human rights and freedom principles of publishing. It is a voice for people with no voice. That is why it has always suffered from pressures, conspiracies, and imprisonments during its publication history, but never conceded.
Tragically funny charges were brought in the indictment which was prepared five and a half month after the writers, artists, and managers of the paper were jailed. It was hard to find any legal concrete evidence. Journalistic activities were linked to terror organizations with fabricated conclusions, objective news was judged as efforts to make the government and the president look bad.
If you are not on my side you are a terrorist mentality destroyed the freedom of speech. The message given is: “You can’t publish the news I don’t want. You will pay immensely for your courage and opposition”. In summary, judicial mechanism today became the source of fear instead of justice. Without a free press and independent-judiciaries it is impossible to have a democratic and judicial state. Independent press is the strength of the democracy.
There is a saying that calm waters do not make master sailors. Waters in our country are never calm. As master journalists, they get their strength from the confidence to their work. We are proud of our relatives who perform their profession honestly and with self-respect.
The latest message that Musa sent from the jail was like this:
“After being jailed for nine months, we will be in front of a judge in 24 July 2017. In other words, first punishment then defense… If you don’t find this order unusual, you may think we are a judicial state. I have been drawing cartoons for 35 years. And they are asking 29 years of jail sentence for me. Yes. It is like a joke. Maybe, I deserve this punishment because I was not able to deliver such a jolting and punching laughter ever. Who knows…”
As the closest person witnessing Musa’s life, I could say that he performed his work with great enthusiasm and respect. He sketched every antidemocratic application, injustice, unlawfulness witnessed in every political administration without being afraid of and without giving up. In other words, he did what a humor master was supposed to do. But, this administration did not overlook humor and criticism and chose to punish intellectuals like Musa with their own methods. No other times, opposition and independent press encountered such heavy pressure and threat like today.
Last Friday was the open visitation day which happens once every two months. My two-and-a half year old granddaughter Deniz visited her grandfather in Silivri Jail. We tried to make hours long waiting at the control gates, in service vehicles, and waiting rooms a hide-and-seek game for Deniz. We were making her laugh by hiding behind the walls we were passing. We mentioned our game to her grandfather. After one hour of visiting time, which went by as if it was one minute, was over they came to take him back. Her grandfather smiled and said “Deniz now they are hiding me”.
After a loudly closed door, I whispered to my bewildered granddaughter’s ears: “Don’t worry, we are going to find him. The whole world knows where he is, not just us.”