No Assassin, Nor Erdogan, Will Silence Us — Can Dundar Recounts Shooting
The Turkish editor and a lonely press critic of President Erdogan was the target of a gunman who screamed "traitor" before firing outside an Istanbul courthouse. Dundar tells of his wife's courage and his own determination to speak truth
Can Dündar is the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet. Together with Erdem Gul, the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief, Dundar has already served prison time for charges linked to his journalism. On Friday, the pair was again convicted on charges of revealing state secrets. But even more shocking, a gunman tried to kill Dundar outside the courthouse. Here is his first reaction:
ISTANBUL — What a day. We'd left the courthouse to have tea after the court took a few hours break before the verdict. I was with my wife Dilek and CHP (Republican People's Party) Parliamentary Deputy Muharrem Erkek.
As we exited the building from Door C, we met Turkish NTV correspondent Yagiz Senkal, who asked what had happened. I told him the court had just been adjourned.
At the stairs, journalist friends and cameramen were waiting. I walked through the scrum of cameras to give an update to the press, while Dilek and Mr. Erkek stepped off to the side.
At the moment that the photographers and camera operators started to approach me, I heard someone behind them shouting: "You are a traitor!"
I saw a hateful face from a few meters away, a face of the new generation.
Then there were gunshots. The smell of gunpowder in the air. As a reflex action, I dashed towards Yagiz, where the metal barriers were. "You are the target," Yagiz was shouting. "Get away."
When I stared back from a few meters away, I saw more men with guns. In the heat of the moment, I couIdn't tell whether they were policemen or more attackers. It was then that I noticed Dilek: She was holding the attacker, pulling on him from his jacket.
Muharrem Erkek was holding the man around the throat while his other hand was on the attacker's hand.
I saw the man throw his weapon on the ground. A bodyguard pulled me brusquely at my arm when I tried to go towards them. Then Dilek came next to me.
All of what I just recounted took no more than 30 seconds.
The journalists rushed toward me and asked: "Are you shot?" I checked my body. No, I was okay despite the close range of the shooter. I didn't yet know that Yagiz had been wounded in the leg.
No braver woman
Dilek told me the details. And it is she who deserves the title hero that some people try to place on me.
There is no braver woman than my wife. She is the one who always rushes first to check when there is a suspicious noise in the house. If she hears something unusual at the door, she approaches it as if a trained special agent.
She told me how Erkek had hit the man in the mouth by reflex, and how the two of them held on to him, grabbing his jacket. She described what happened like she might have recounted a scene from an action movie she has just watched.
It is thanks to my wife and Muharrem Erkek's bravery that I am writing these words.
As for the attacker? Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that the man "will pay a heavy price." But has the Turkish president no shame that he has made a target out of a journalist doing his job? Is he glad that he has laid the groundwork for this shooting by attacking me at political rallies as a "spy" and labeled me a "traitor?"
And yet, neither the threats of the president, nor the bullets of his volunteer hitmen, nor court convictions — none of this would be enough to intimidate us and scare us from doing our work.
This newspaper has come this far by paying those prices, sacrificing lives. None of it has ever stopped us from continuing our struggle. We won't stop now. We won't be silent.
Even if everybody else grows too scared and intimidated, we will continue to write, say and point the finger at injustice with even greater determination, courage and faith than ever before. Onward until this regime of bullies ends up in the junkyard of history with all their hired pens, gangs and hitmen.