ANKARA: They Are Threatening Fatih Akin And Agos


Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Aug 6 2014

August 06, 2014, Wednesday

The Cihan news agency reported that members of the Turkcu Turancýlar
Derneði (Turkist Turan Association) threatened renowned filmmaker
Fatih Akýn via Twitter after a highly publicized interview he gave
to the Turkish-Armenian Agos weekly.

Akýn has just completed a film on “the journey of an Armenian living
in Mardin, played by Tahir Rahim, who sets out to find his daughter
following a tragedy that befalls him,” Agos reported. As you can
easily guess, this “tragedy” happened to be in 1915.

Akýn’s film, named “The Cut,” has not been released yet. Only the
trailer is available for the time being.

Akýn looked quite confident about the level of maturity of Turkish
society in dealing with past atrocities in the interview he gave to
Agos. In the middle of the interview he said, “I am sure that society
in Turkey, of which I too am a part, is ready for this film.”

However, the Cihan news agency’s above-mentioned report suggests
that at least some parts of Turkish society are not at all ready to
confront some thoughts and narratives that contrast with what they
believe Turkey’s past to have been.

The Turkcu Turancýlar Derneði’s threats against Akýn and Agos are quite
serious and alarming. They said: “Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akýn,
who is affiliated with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK],
is working with the Agos weekly in order to release his latest film
‘The Cut.’ We, the members of the Turkcu Turancýlar Derneði, are
not going to let them bring this so-called genocide story to the big
screen. This film is the first leg of the 2015 Armenian scenario. We
are explicitly threatening the Agos weekly, Armenian fascists and
so-called intellectuals. This film will not be released in Turkey. We
have our eyes on all of you with our white hats.”

“White hats,” as you may recognize, in this message is a reference
to the white beret that the murderer of Hrant Dink wore when shot
Dink in front of the office of the Agos weekly, of which Dink was
the editor-in-chief.

What kind of conclusions can we draw from this story?

Well, my first one is this: We have not witnessed such an open and
unmistakable threat from neo-fascist organizations towards minorities
for a while. This threatening message and the support it has attracted
on social media may be an indication of a change in the atmosphere. We
used to witness such direct threats in 2007 and earlier, before the
Ergenekon trials started. Now that all the suspects have been released
in this case, the atmosphere may start to change again.

The second conclusion, of course, concerns the scandalous level of
insensitivity of prosecutors towards hate speech and its potentially
serious consequences, especially when it targets vulnerable groups
such as Armenians in Turkey. Unsurprisingly, I have not heard of any
prosecutor or police activity about these open threats yet.

Thirdly, connected to the second, is the inability of the Turkish
judiciary to draw lessons from past experience. Unfortunately, Dink
was killed exactly like this in 2007, after being the target of hate
speech for a long time.

It is high time for the Turkish judiciary, police and policy makers
to realize that hate speech in Turkey is a very serious matter. I
urge officials to take these threats very seriously!

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