AntiNote: The following interview was conducted by phone in the final hour of last month’s hostage situation in Istanbul by Ahmet Şik, a prominent Turkish opposition journalist who has been jailed for his writing in the past, with the two hostage-takers themselves.
Earlier in the day, a photo began circulating in social media showing one of the two hostage-takers, Bahtiyar Doğruyol and Şafak Yayla, posing in front of their group’s hammer-and-sickle insignias with a pistol to the head of their hostage, state prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz. It was a disturbing photo, and spread quickly without much benefit of context or explanation in most cases. For those unfamiliar with the history and current landscape of militant left politics and conflict in Turkey, the photo was a cipher and prompted much speculation.
At any rate, there was not much time for this kind of social media speculation, much less for real information-gathering, since the Turkish authorities immediately forbade the broadcast media from reporting on the hostage situation, the violence that ended it, or the public outcry that followed. Alternative and opposition print and online outlets insufficient in their condemnation of the act were tarred as supporters of terrorism, a pretext the Turkish authorities have used in the past to harass, intimidate, imprison, and incite violence against journalists. And a few days later, the Turkish government imposed a short-lived ban on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the country.
The still ongoing campaign of censorship around this ordeal has reached beyond Turkey’s borders as well, as the government there also persuaded Facebook to shut down a list of pages it deemed in violation of their gag order. One such page was that of our comrades at Lower Class Magazine, which had published a German translation of Şik’s interview with Bahtiyar Doğruyol and Şafak Yayla along with a short foreword, all of which we present here in English.