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Turkish democracy is dead, but we won’t kneel to repressive govt – Zaman journalist to RT

Ankara’s media crackdown marked the end of democracy in Turkey, a journalist from Today’s Zaman newspaper told RT, promising that the media staff would not betray the freedom of expression and cooperate with government-imposed management.

READ MORE: RT reporter teargassed in Istanbul as Zaman ‘take-over’ protest enters 2nd day 

RT: Thank you very much for coming on to RT this evening. You’re in Ankara at the moment, but what can you tell us about the situation at the newspaper in Istanbul? Have you been able to speak to colleagues?

Emre Soncan: I’m in Ankara as you've said and we are expecting a police raid as it happened yesterday in Istanbul in our main headquarters. As you know, yesterday the Turkish government ordered police forces to raid Zaman daily, which is the bestselling newspaper of Turkey, to take over the management. And the police forces yesterday raided our building, and they fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse the crowd, our readers who came there to support us and to share their solidarity for newspapers. Now in Ankara we are expecting the police force to come and take over our building as well as in Istanbul.

RT: Can you describe what happened on the premises of the newspaper last night? We saw the protest, people being dispersed on the streets, but what happened inside?

ES: Unfortunately, first of all I would like to say that this is the end of democracy for Turkey, I'm very sorry. Yesterday was a shameful day for Turkish democracy, for the rule of law, for freedom of expression. In the last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to silence all the critical media in Turkey. A couple of months before, firstly the government confiscated newspapers and TV channels of Ipek media group [Koza Ipek Holding], another prominent media group in Turkey. Then some of the other critical TV channels were dropped out from satellite. And yesterday at the end the nation's best circulating newspaper Zaman daily was seized by the Turkish government.

READ MORE: Turkish police raid opposition Zaman daily HQ, unleash tear gas & water cannon on protesters

As I said before, yesterday night police forces came to our building in Istanbul, to our headquarters, and they tried to disperse the crowd who is supporting us, they were all our readers, [police] used tear gas and water cannon, then they [law enforcement] stormed our building and confiscated our newspaper unlawfully, unfortunately.

RT: What will happen and what will you do tonight considering you’re expecting the police to try and presumably remove the management that’s currently at Today's Zaman, the English-language version of the Zaman newspaper? What action will the staff take? Will it be a passive takeover or will there be a demonstration, will there be resistance?

ES: This is very sad, but we have nothing to do, because there is no court [where] we can fight for our rights. All the courts in Turkey are under the control of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And I can even say that the Turkish constitution was suspended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A couple of days before he said, the President of the Republic of Turkey said: “I am not recognizing [the Constitutional Court’s ruling].” If the president does not recognise the constitution, what can citizens do to defend their rights? We have nothing to do.

RT: Will you continue to work at the newspaper even though you would expect its editorial position to change, or will you resign? What’s the main feeling among your colleagues and yourself?

ES: It’s impossible to continue to work in Zaman daily because the trustees who were assigned by the government will fire us a couple of days later. All of us will be fired from the newspaper. But if they don’t, of course we will resign, because it’s impossible to work with the government, we will not write what they want, we will not kneel in front of the repressive Turkish government.