‘This Heart Will Never Be Kept Quiet!’

Metin Göktepe, a reporter who worked for the newspaper Evrensel, was taken into custody while following a newsworthy story 23 years ago, on 8 January 1996. He was beaten to death with the words “special treatment for the journalist” barked by the police officers.

Metin is still teaching all of us the nature of journalism; therefore,  I am honoured and proud to have worked together with Metin Göktepe. He has been commemorated for 23 years with the expression “This Heart Will Never Be Kept Quiet!” The essence of his journalism has been and is being taught to prospective new journalists.

Sultan Özer reports from Turkey.

What happened 23 years ago is still right before my eyes. On the morning of 9 January 1996, we would hold a news meeting at the newspaper Evrensel’s Ankara office. Veli Özdemir, our representative then, said that he had “a bad news” for us. It was obvious from his face that there was something wrong. We were around 12 journalists in the office. When we were asking ourselves the question “what might be the bad news?”, “Metin, Metin Göktepe has been killed,” he said. First we did not understand what was going on, and then “Is this a silly joke?” we wondered. What came afterwards was an enormous, shivering silence… How could one mention and what did it mean that “Metin was killed”? Well, he was taken into custody the day before, but what did it mean that he was “killed”?

We were just standing paralysed there, … were not able to comprehend what had just been said… And then there were a big buzz, cries, sobbings, … I ran across to the balcony, and was not able to get a grip on myself. Since 1993, Metin and I… we worked in the magazine Gerçek (Reality) and later in the newspaper Evrensel (Universal)… One of us worked in the İstanbul Office, and the other worked in the Ankara Office. We worked in collaboration in two separate offices. We often called each other, and met in İstanbul or in Ankara from time to time. And after all we have achieved, Metin with whom I co-wrote news articles is not living anymore… No, this is not happening, that was a terrible joke and was not something that I was able to perceive…

He went to the balcony before I did… There was someone crouching, crying out… I looked at him… He was Nafiz Kaya, the young journalist. I then let go of my pain, found myself consoling him.

TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE BADE A MOVING FAREWELL TO METİN

We set off to İstanbul that evening. As a huge crowd, we went by train to the funeral in İstanbul. This tremendous crowd was in front of the newspaper building! An hour-long walk… I met Metin Göktepe’s mother, Fadime Göktepe, there for the first time; on 10 January 1996. Since then, she has been a mother to all the journalists… Since then, she has said: “Every one of you is Metin for me,” to all the journalists who stood on Metin’s side. She has also become my mother.

The name Metin Göktepe has transformed into a movement in the form of revealing the truth, defending the right of the public to receive true information, and being on the side of the facts and factual journalism. Himself was a lesson taught to students at communication faculties, because Metin Göktepe was arrested due to the news written by himself at the newspaper he worked for, and because he was beaten to death for who he was.

THE CHIEF OF POLICE AND CUTTING HEADS IN İSTANBUL

When Metin Göktepe was taken prisoner, the İstanbul Police Chief was then Orhan Taşanlar. What Taşanlar told reporters was that he had come to cut heads to İstanbul. Previous then that, he was one of those who responded with violence especially to the unionisation struggles of civil servants in Ankara. In the capital city, an action of civil servants was subjected to excessive violence. Following this violent treatment on Sakarya Street in Kızılay, “If you are men, come before me,” Taşanlar yelled at civil servants who were dragged on the streets, brutally clubbed and imprisoned.

Two prisoners who were killed in prison that day had a funeral, and Metin insisted on saying “I must follow this newsworthy story,” at the newspaper. A different behaviour could not then be expected from Metin anyway. While Metin and other journalists was following the above-mentioned story together, they came across a police barricade set up there. When the police officers set to arrest only one of the journalists with a yellow press card, “Let us talk again, and attempt to entre,” Metin insisted. After this, “You talked too much, I am arresting you,” a police officer said. A friend of Metin who was following the story beside him also insisted, and both of them were taken into custody. But when it was learnt that he worked at the newspaper Cumhuriyet (Republic), he was released due to the warning: “let him go, you will get into trouble otherwise,” given to the police officers.

‘A SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR THE JOURNALIST’

Metin was taken to the Eyüp Indoor Sports Hall with a thousand people detained as himself on that day, because Orhan Taşanlar had given the instruction, “Arrest everyone who is in the funeral”.

Metin was constantly repeating that he was a journalist. Although he shouted out his name loudly, he was beaten and corrupt words shamelessly barked: “special treatment for the journalist”. Kicks, clubs, fists and sticks were endlessly landing on each spot of his body. He lost his consciousness; and after all those barbaric acts, when he died, they threw his inanimate body into a park outside the sports hall.

The next day there was a little news about Metin in the newspapers. The headlines read “The journalist fallen from the wall…”, “The journalist fallen from the chair…”, “… was found dead in the park…”.

However, especially his younger colleagues insisted on testifying that he had been taken into custody. Those who witnessed him being beaten, despite all threats and coercion attemps, did not withdraw their testimony. Journalists, lawyers, Göktepe family, political parties, non-governmental organisations have pursued this brutal case diligently.

Dozens of journalists were killed by that day, and these were all unsolved murder cases. But nobody believed the lies: Metin “fell from the wall”, “fell from the chair”. The authorities were not able to convince anyone of these lies. Over and above this, according to the forensic report and the witnesses, Metin was killed by the police officers.

A GUIDE WITH HIS LAWSUIT AS WELL AS HIS JOURNALISM

In fact, after an insistent pursuit, it was admitted that the police officers beat and killed Metin. For “security” grounds, Metin’s trial was first seen in Aydın; and due to the collective involvement of his colleagues, elderly mother and family, the trial was seen in Afyon in the following month. Every month, thousands of people flocked to Afyon for his trial; despite the police violence and attacks, this brutal case and the lawsuit were insistently pursued.

Metin Göktepe’s journalism as well as the pursuit of his lawsuit broke new ground in Turkey. A brutal case which was initially said to be an unsolved murder case… an insistent pursuit… And at the end of a five-year trial period, “the killers were punished; the state terror was condemned”.

Today, when journalism has reached its endpoint, in the 23rd year of his murder, Metin Göktepe’s factual journalism continues to defend people’s right to receive factual information, rather than bogus news.

Translation: Ümit Keskin