Thursday, December 24, 2009

Turkish journalist / editor murdered

On 19th December 2009, in Bandırma, Turkey, 'unknown gunmen' murdered Life in Southern Marmara (Güney Marmara'da Yaşam) editor and journalist Cihan Hayırsevener, probably for his reporting on 'local corruption'.

Turkish Journalists' Association Secretary-General Celal Toprak told Hürriyet Daily News that '[l]ocal journalists are open targets for "local forces"'.

Before his murder, Hayırsevener had received death threats. Perhaps most strangely, Güney Marmara'da Yaşam editor Umit Babacan detailed one death threat where,
"Inside [the envelope] was a clipping from a novel called Aşk (Love) by Elif Safak. It said that evil cannot be seen, that it is in the heart, and that it cannot be washed out. The threat was not explicit, but Cihan and I could feel the danger."
I don't know if that is a famous or oft-quoted passage; but it seems that Hayırsevener's murderers read the books of liberal academic and novelist Elif Şafak.

Turkish journalists do not have freedom of information or expression, even to report on illegal paramilitary/terrorist crimes in Turkey. As Erol Önderoğlu reported on the trial of Cumhuriyet journalist Nedim Şener (who wrote about the deep state murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink),
Şener [still] stands accused for exposing the plaintiffs as a target to the Ergenekon organization, a clandestine ultra-nationalist terrorist organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

In the hearing of one of the trials before the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court on 16 December journalist Şener argued, "I worked on revealing relations to the Dink murder. In fact, I put forth connections to the Ergenekon organization".
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists). 2009: "Editor killed by unknown gunmen in Turkey". Committee to Protect Journalists, 21st December. Available at:

Hürriyet Daily News. 2009: "Slain journalist buried in Istanbul". Hürriyet Daily News, 20th December. Available at:

Önderoğlu, E. 2009: "Journalist Sener: I have become a target". BIAnet, 20th December. Available at:

[I inserted some paragraph breaks into long quotations to make them easy to read in a blog post.]

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