A Dutch journalist of Turkish origin who has been targeted by threats originating from Turkey prompted authorities in the Netherlands to take security measures.
Basri Doğan, 49-year old journalist who works at Zaman Vandaag newspaper, was publicly named as terrorist in a network controlled by the family of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek who is an ally of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and senior member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Doğan has been singled out and targeted personally on a TV show by Osman Gökçek, the son of Melih Gökçek, who is the general coordinator of the network, amid systematic campaign of intimidation by Turkish government officials against critical and independent journalists.
Alerted by threats, Dutch police immediately provided security for journalist Doğan who filed criminal complaints against Gökçek with Dutch authorities.
Presenting Doğan’s photos with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during the journalist’s interview as an evidence of terror activity. Gökçek (33) claimed that the journalist is a member of terrorist group. He called on Turks in the Netherlands to question the journalist when they spot him walking on the street.
Appearing on a news segment Sürmanşet aired on March 19, 2017, Gökçek put up pictures of Doğan while he was interviewing with or posing a question to Prime Minister Rutte, saying that “The name of this person is Basri Doğan. As you can see, he has pictures next to Holland Prime Minister. You know who this guy is. He is bureau chief of Zaman newspaper. Look they are together.”
“My brothers in Holland, you better look at this Basri Doğan,” Gökçek went on saying in the reminder of the TV show, adding to that: “When you see him walking on the street, you have to ask him: ‘What kind of role you as a FETÖ terrorist have played in these affairs such as Dutch attacking Turkish nation?’”
‘FETÖ’ is a hate speech term used by Turkish government to refer the Gülen movement which is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been advocating science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution.
Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and autocratic President Erdoğan on massive corruption in the government as well as Turkey’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria. Erdoğan launched an unprecedented persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members.
The ruling Islamist leaders labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.
Doğan told Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) that he has already filed criminal complaint with Dutch authorities, adding that he fears for his safety after being targeted publicly on a live TV broadcast. He rejected accusations of him being as a terrorist, stressing that Gökçek showed his Facebook pictures with Dutch Prime Minister as if they are criminal evidence.
“I consider this as an attack on Dutch journalists as a whole and an assault on people’s right to get informed freely. Gökçek and others who target me are just trying to undermine my work as a journalist, smear my name by accusing me of ludicrous charges,” he added.
Because of past threats against him, Doğan was also covered in a recent SCF report titled “Erdoğan’s Long Arm in Europe: The Case of the Netherlands” which exposed Turkish government profiling, harassment activities in the Netherlands which led to physical assaults and arson attempts against Turkish president’s critics.
The pro-AKP Twitter account under the name ‘Abdi Aciz’ posted the following message addressed to Doğan: ‘Your blood will be spilled. You will be brought to account for it. Just as the throats of your traitorous soldiers were slit, your throats will be slit as well. It is permissible to spill your blood for this nation.’
A person named Abdulkadir Teoman Geylani, whose profile photo featured a gun on the Turkish flag, threatened Doğan on July 19, 2016 with the following message: ‘Traitors! Sons of bitches! You will be brought to account for what you did.’
Mehmet Salih Kaya, who had once served as the Netherlands’ chairman of the pro-AKP Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), posted social media messages targeting the Hizmet movement. On July 20, 2016, he wrote on Twitter: ‘FETÖ members, Gülenists, Hizmet supporters, the Community supporters, Zaman supporters, hay [pun on a Turkish word] supporters, etc. When they come to your door asking for your donations, do not give them anything. Do not let them come inside. Shut the door in their faces. This is my warning in advance.’
Doğan is the second journalist who face threats by supporters of Erdoğan in recent weeks amid recent row between Turkey and the Netherlands. Hakan Büyük, a 29-year old Dutch journalist of Turkish origin, has quickly become a target when he recalled mass rights violations that take place in Turkey which resulted in jailing of some 50,000 people in the last seven months as part of Turkish government crackdown on Kurdish political movement and Gülen movement.
Some of the chilling messages journalist Büyük received on Twitter included threats like “you’ll be murdered,” “we’ll shoot you at the head,” and “one day we’ll get you and draw blood from you.” Büyük, an editor at Zaman Vandaag newspaper, was trying to expose hypocrisy on the part of Turkish government that decried barring of Turkish ministers by Dutch government on political rallies in Dutch cities while Ankara pursues a witch-hunt against critics and opponents, dismissing 135,000 people from government jobs, and jailing 200 journalists on trumped-up charges.
Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (the Netherlands Union of Journalists) has condemned targeting of Dutch journalists by Turkey.
March 20, 2017