The shady politics of Turkey's raid on a critical media group's headquarters

Published October 28th, 2015 - 12:40 GMT
Ahead of a Nov. 1 election, police raided Turkey's third largest media group Wednesday over opposition broadcasting. (Twitter)
Ahead of a Nov. 1 election, police raided Turkey's third largest media group Wednesday over opposition broadcasting. (Twitter)

Between the Vice journalists' arrests earlier this year, to the media stiffling during the country's election, Turkey hasn't exactly been a shining example of press freedom. But a violent raid this week on a Turkish TV station critical of the government is shooting Ankara's paranoia back into clear focus.

Turkish police armed with water cannons lined up outside the the offices of the İpek Media Group just before 5 am Tuesday, BGN news reported. 

The raid lasted almost two hours. Protesting citizens held back police at the gates until 8 am, when authorities began firing tear gas into th crowd and eventually broke through the gates to enter the offices. Once inside, they cut the wires of a live feed at Bugün TV's studios and detained several journalists. Here's BGN's live coverage, via YouTube.

But not everyone from the Turkish government is on the same side. Several parliamentary members from Turkey's opposition party Republican People's Party (CHP) arrived at the scene in protest.

Earlier this week, an Ankara court ordered Koza İpek Holding, the umbrella group of several opposition media channels in Turkey, to be put under receivership. This meant the media conglomerate's management would be transferred to new, pro-government trustees, ostensibly to silence the dissent. The raid comes as the request is being processed. According to the CHP, that makes it illegal. 

As police broke through a sea of protesters outside Bugün TV, CHP deputy Barış Yarkadaş spoke to the press.

"The government has now made the police accomplices to their crime," he said. "Today is a shameful day. We are now seeing the last moments of Bugün TV broadcasting freely."

Just ahead of Turkey's Nov. 1 elections, critics of the raid said it was a ploy by Ankara to squash media freedom.

"This is not some textile workshop. If trustees are appointed to the management, the broadcast continues," Bugün TV head Tarık Toros told the press. "But if our broadcast ends, then it is media censorship. It is an attempt to influence the election."

Or, in one presenter's own words: 


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