Defending people's right to know | Can Dündar | TEDxFrankfurt


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For more information on Can Dündar, visit our website: Can Dündar has been working as a journalist for the last 40 years, for several newspapers, magazines, TV companies. He produced many TV documentaries focusing particularly on modern Turkish history and biographies. He worked as an anchorman for several news channels. He stepped down from his post as the editor in chief of the daily Cumhuriyet on August 2016, after he was sentenced 5 years and 10 months of imprisonment due to his story on the Turkish Intelligence Service’s involvement in the Syrian war. He was jailed for 3 months and survived an assassination attempt. He now lives in exile in Germany. He is a columnist for German daily Die Zeit and commentator for German WDR’s Cosmo. He founded the news radio called #Özgürüz in exile… Dündar has been nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. He is the writer of 40 books, some of which were published in German, English, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Chinese. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

hello I’m gonna tell you a story about
fear and courage about oppression and
resistance about risks and
responsibilities about prison and
freedom about despair and hope four
years ago a video footage reached to our
newspaper where I was the
editor-in-chief the state’s Intelligence
Agency was caught smuggling arms to
Islamist militia in a neighboring
country the ammunition was hidden under
a layer of boxes of medicine so this was
an illegal operation and the images
provided undeniable evidence our
editorial team and I had a meeting we
discussed the risks our homes will be
raided we were taken away we won’t know
how long we’ll stay in prison we knew we
had seen this story before in fact
assassins or bombers had already claimed
the lives of six of our colleagues we
knew from the first day that if you
write this story you’ll be killed if you
draw this cartoon
you’ll be imprisoned if you use this
headline your newspaper will be bombed
but we always said don’t get into this
profession if you can’t face it
let’s pause now and think for a moment
what would you do if you had to choose
between people’s right to know and your
freedom your family your life would you
take the risk or would you say what a
nerd who died is it worth it
but believe me it is those what a nerd
who dies that form the bricks of
totalitarian regimes they are the
building blocks of the wall of fear a
wall that imprisons us behind our own
fears one witting protect us but
actually enslave us let’s get back to
the story our tutorial team entire team
said let’s publish it and the following
morning we ran it on the front page here
are the weapons the Prime Minister
denies so the following morning the
Prime Minister unable to refute the
evidence he said that was a state secret
the publishers will pay heavily in fact
it was not the state secret it was his
own secret by the way but he couldn’t
punish us straight away as he was facing
an election the elections took place a
few weeks later it was our wedding
anniversary right away I had booked a
table at a fine restaurant for dinner
and received an invitation this morning
from the prosecutor if you live in a
country without rule of law you know
that an invitation from the prosecutor
means you’ll be in jail soon so which is
which is precisely what happens
the prosecutor demanded the arrest of me
and our correspondent in the capital and
he asked two life sentences for a true
story the judge didn’t even allow us to
talk before he says you’re arrested so
I’d been dreaming of a dinner in an
elegant restaurant with my wife but
instead I found myself in solitary cell
with a packet of biscuits in my hand
after us police raided the homes of
every editor of our newspaper they too
were arrested on charges absolute
charges and spend months in jail so I
had to go come – into exile to build up
my own media outlet here we are at me
it’s name those gurus we are free after
an attack by a gunman he shot at me
twice in front of the courthouse
the most protective area in the city and
a colleague
trying to protect me was wounded and I
survived thanks to the courage of my
wife would you like to see it let’s have
a suit let’s have a look she’s my wife
so in fact what happened is this guy the
gunman was released after a few more
weeks in jail and the judge puts his
passport back in his pocket while the
government put a travel ban on my wife’s
passport and it looks like a horror
movie right but it’s not it’s an
everyday reality in countries like ours
a reality that doesn’t happen overnight
authoritarianism happens gradually just
like the Frog in the cooking pot slowly
coming up to the boil by the time you
realize that the water is boiling it’s
too late this is how trap develops first
they scare you the premise in the
thirties Germany well the Jews are out
to get you in the 50s America the
Communists are coming today
refugees are coming Islam is coming
scares the West Islam is going scares
Muslims the names change the country is
change but the fears stay the same fear
disrupts our chemistry if we don’t
belong to any organization any trade
union any party are alone in the middle
of the storm we feel the need to shelter
somewhere and we usually seek shelter
with those who raise the alarm
like a victim in love with the knife
next we are asked to leave our freedoms
one by one we should have no objection
police patrol at every street corner if
we want to stroll freely right or to a
camera every corner and we should also
give the police random search and phone
tapping power so they can catch our
enemies if anyone criticized these
demands couldn’t they be serving our
enemies the world is full of
authoritarian leaders who use those
fears to come to power and who then stay
in power by telling the terrified masses
don’t worry I’m here fragile democracies
in the Americas Balkans Middle East Far
East have become totalitarian states one
by one
Europe is next in line the voices of
worry fear alarm populism are heard in
the UK Italy Spain Austria everywhere
there is only one way out don’t be
afraid I learned not to be afraid even
more when I was alone in myself in
high-security prison it was the worst
biggest prison for journalists
Turkish prisons hold more debt more
journalists than Russian Chinese Saudi
jails at present close to 150 colleagues
of mine are still in prison
because of their articles or tweets and
they are mostly kept in solitary
confinement solitary is an advanced
punishment tactic employed by the
government you are left on your own so
that you feel totally alone you are kept
in the dark about what you are charged
with or how long you’re going to stay
there prison is a waiting room all you
can do under these circumstances is to
wait in silence in the morning you wait
for the guards to waken you up and
unlock the door to a tiny concrete yard
just to catch sight of a patch of sky
then you wait for breakfast to be pushed
by through the hatch of this door next
you wait for your solstice for lunch for
the post day for the once weekly ten
minutes on the phone with a family
member for the indictment for the
hearing but above all for discharge for
freedom Prison is a waiting room but I
decided I wouldn’t wait I was going to
force the conditions transform this tiny
cell into a PR office and call out the
world but how can you imagine living
without a cellular phone or a laptop or
the right to talk to other inmates no
chance to send out messages without the
warders knowledge but you know what
necessity is the mother of invention the
best teacher of struggle is despair it
teaches you to go over high walls exit
the cul-de-sacs create solutions in
moments of hopelessness the first thing
I learned to do was to communicate with
other inmates by shouting into the pipes
then how to stick letters to plastic
water bottles and lob them over the wall
and placing sandwiches between radio
Sorkin columns so that you can wake up
to a cheese sorta toasty in time I
discovered ways of sending letters and
articles without alerting the warders
the open letter I sent to Chancellor
Merkel was published in their speaker
we were brighter than our jailers no
matter how much they try to isolate us
they couldn’t isolate us entirely from
the world despite the walls razor wire
and the warders between us despite all
the hardship we managed to build bridges
towards the people who believed in us in
democracy in freedom there are still
very brave people in my country
struggling for democracy against all the
aggression they face with even in jail
three examples came to my mind an artist
friend she was able to send paintings
out of prison even know with no paper
pen or paints to hand you know how
imagine she used the paste of leftover
food and her blood to draw on the backs
of inmates about to be released those
images were photographed and published
once the carriers were out this is a
raid on a political leader in prison in
fact he is the third the leader of the
third biggest party in the parliament he
is now in prison he composed and sang a
song with no musical or recording
instruments do you know how he softly
sank to his wife on the phone call and
the musicians outside listened to the
recording and performed it and the
resulting halt
title became an instant hit in the
country and the title was don’t be
scared shout this is a lot intimate – a
German prisoner in Turkish jails heard
of nightly prayers for him in a Berlin
every night at the same time he prayed
in his self and today he upholds his
bridge to hope as he prays in the same
church for others still inside this is
Peter Stormare impossible is a lie made
up by despair we make the possibility as
creativity is the fruit of impossibility
as our families and friends were ranking
ranking their brains about what to do
after we’ve been locked away an 80 years
old to iearn of our profession arrived
at prison gate carrying a chair huddling
in his coat he sat down on his own and
started to read a book when he was asked
what he was doing he explained this was
his personal protest against our arrest
on the following day there were hundreds
ready to take over to vigil within a few
weeks this number reached thousands
providing to us we weren’t alone and
bolstering those outside sometimes a
single person with a chair with a wooden
chair can defy a golden throne and alter
the balance of power this is Morocco
nowadays a dark cloud hangs over our
world it used to hang over so many
countries and people for decades but the
Western world was not affected as their
people were living in peace behind the
high walls globalization changed
repercussions of elections in Egypt or
war in Syria are felt across the rest of
the world after all
increasingly more people are beginning
to consider security
as more important than freedom this is a
view that can only serve the despots
currently in power or those waiting in
the wings one by one they are taking
away the rights that we have struggled
to win over the centuries freedom of the
press freedom of expression freedom to
demonstrate equality of the sexes
supremacy of law secularity peace
democracy our leaders say these don’t
your security does choosing between
security and freedom will lead to the
loss of both we want them both we must
defend our freedoms in order to break
the siege sentencing us to a narrow
choice I guess the majority of the
people in this hall were born and raised
in a democracy that may well explain the
assumption that democracy is an integral
part of life
sadly that’s not the case democracy is
not a plastic flower inside a glass bath
it’s a rose garden that demands daily
attention and we are the Gardeners today
democracy is gravely wounded all around
the globe parties Parliament’s
associations trade unions experienced
the greatest turbulence seen in our time
mass migrations disappearing forests
monsters who behead their victims
psychopaths shooting people or driving
lorries into innocent crowds shake the
world it’s becoming impossible to live
together this is the age of drought for
humankind a drought that will bury us
all in the cracks unless we all say stop
and we can say stop because we are the
superpower of democracy you me all of us
if you feel weak or helpless or scared
just remember the artists who painted
without paints the politician who
composed music without an instrument the
inmates who participated in mass from
thousands of miles away and the old
journalists sitting at the gate on his
own they are brave enough to challenge
the oppression because just as the fear
is contagious so is the courage thank

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