Journalist Uğur Mumcu, who uttered the words “there are authors who write fearlessly without bending and bowing”, has not been forgotten, even it has been 26 years since he was killed by a bomb placed to his car. The murder has not been solved yet, but Uğur Mumcu journalism continues to guide. One of Uğur Mumcu’s friends, writer at the newspaper Cumhuriyet, Işık Kansu identifies Uğur Mumcu as a “signal flare” and said that “the warnings he began to send to present time almost 40 years ago has become real today.”
Being one of the pioneers of the investigative journalism, Uğur Mumcu died on January 24, 1993, right in front of his home at Karlı Street in Ankara, in the explosion due to the bomb placed to his car. Graduating from Ankara University, Faculty of Law in 1965, Uğur Mumcu began journalism with his articles published in the journal Yön. Worked for the newspapers Akşam, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and ANKA News Agency, Mumcu took the duty of writing and narrating just the truth on, independent of any power group, political party, establishment and organization. Being one of the pioneers of an understanding that grounds the journalism not only on the knowledge but also on an ethical basis, Uğur Mumcu describes journalist as “The person who arrives news and information source in the quickest way and reports these news and information to the reader”.
We talked on Uğur Mumcu’s journalism approach with his friends Işık Kansu who is one of the writers of Cumhuriyet newspaper, and Turgay Olcayto, the chairman of the Turkey’s Association of Journalists.
‘UĞUR MUMCU’S JOURNALISM IS FUNCTIONALIST’
In his statement to halagazeteciyiz.net, remarking that Uğur Mumcu’s journalism found its identity in the environment of freedom brought by the 1961 Constitution, Cumhuriyet newspaper writer, journalist Işık Kansu said that “It is an anti-imperialist, liberationist, revolutionary and socialist journalist identity that began to take shape in the journal Devrim. From this point of view, Uğur Mumcu’s journalism is functionalist and is based on the responsibility of informing and illuminating the society.”
Kansu told that the treatments such as custody, arrest, trial and objectionable military service in the period March 12 of Military Coup had fostered the inquisitiveness, investigativeness of Mumcu’s journalism and had made him dexterously use his subtle wit. Stating that his rigid and hard-line articles at times could easily turn into irony mixed with dark comedy, Kansu emphasized that articles of all style had the purpose of “attaining a democratic administration and freedom of press”.
Specifying that the intensifying bloody political environment after mid-1970s caused the functionalist, investigative aspects of Uğur Mumcu’s journalism to strengthen, Kansu spoke as follows:
“The incidents such as May 1 and Kahramanmaraş that took the form of massacres, the gun and drug smuggling, the incidents that shocked the society such as the murder of Abdi İpekçi resulted in deep investigations of these murders. Uğur Mumcu’s journalism could fulfill this function too. Although the tortures, executions, political cases of September 12 Military Coup oppressed the society like a nightmare, the responsibility of Uğur Mumcu’s journalism would have gone on with all its courage. When the press was oppressed, when many of intellectuals were muted or became silent, Uğur Mumcu’s journalism remained standing up by the articles criticizing the military prosecutors of the political trials such as the DISK and the Peace Trials.”
Noting that the society learned the fact that the economic choice known as January 24, 1980 Decisions would result in a pure fascist administration from Uğur Mumcu’s journalism, Kansu said : “Likewise the society learned from Mumcu’s journalism also the fact that Turgut Özal’s arabesque-liberalism made Turkey enter a dead-end. It is Özal’s liberalism, criticized by Uğur Mumcu’s journalism, that has made our country indebted of hundreds of billions of dollars, brought it on brink of abyss. Özal’s arabesque side provoked the follower of sharia who prefer desert Bedouin life style to modern life style, strengthened the religious political parties and at last caused them to come to power alone.”
THE POWER OF UĞUR MUMCU’S JOURNALISM
Işık Kansu drew attention to the fact that Turkey’s press had witnessed an important chaotic situation in last 40 years. Stating that Uğur Mumcu pointed out the changes and transformations took place in first 10 years of 20-25 years of this period, Kansu talked as follows:
“It seems as if the period that could be described as the process of conglomeration of the press which was previously owned by journalist families, the appropriation of it by businessmen and its becoming a partisan apparatus has councluded with the monopolization and the cooperation of the ‘politics-commerce-religious sects-media’ quartet.”
Expressing the idea that “As a signal flare, most of Uğur Mumcu’s warnings from 40 years on have become real, they existed and will exist”, Kansu underlined that Uğur Mumcu’s journalism lies right at that point. Kansu told that “It takes this power from the investigative and interrogative logic. Uğur Mumcu’s journalism corresponds to Uğur Mumcu’s personality. They complete each other and are not separable. Both are extraordinary, different, pioneering and model. With his own words “there are authors who write fearlessly without bending and bowing”. That is exactly Uğur Mumcu’s journalism!”
‘HE SOUGHT FOR THE TRUTH DESPITE THE OPRESSIONS’
Specifying that Uğur Mumcu is one of valuable persons who were killed in the attack took place in 1990s, Turkey Association of Journalists Chairman Turgay Olcayto made the criticism that: “The common characteristics of these murders are the fact that even if the gunslingers were found, the instigators have never been found. Most of them are unsolved. Since the governments and the Grand Assembly did not conduct subtle investigations for unsolved cases, the unsolved murder cases have been abandoned to dusty shelves.”
Emphasizing that Uğur Mumcu was a veteran journalist who wrote bluntly in a language that could be understood by the reader, Olcayto said: “Naturally he was a writer who did not win the empathy of governments. Thus even though he was oppressed in many ways, he insisted on seeking for the truth and sharing them with the public. He was not daunted by the threats both from inside and outside of country. If we have a term as “investigative journalism” today, it was brought to the profession by Uğur Mumcu. His passing away devalued the profession of journalism quite a lot.”
‘THEY DEFEND WAR, NOT PEACE’
“How could anyone practice journalism, if there is no freedom of expression, the fundamental rights and freedoms are suspended?” Moreover, nowadays, many people, who are defined by the Uğur Mumcu’s words that “people who has opinions without having knowledge” utter in a way that cause wrong and dangerous perceptions. They defend war instead of peace. They defend violence oriented news instead of human oriented ones. Leaning on the power we took from Uğur Mumcu, we try to stand with our young colleagues in this hard period of our history of press. They can not daunt us.”
Translation: Aydın Ördek