Turkish pro-gov't columnist implies dissident artists are 'agents'

The former Turkish head of police intelligence and current pro-government Yeni Şafak columnist Bülent Orakoğlu has targeted artists and musicians such as Tarkan, Fazıl Say, Sezen Aksu, Cem Yılmaz, and Şahan Gökbakar, implying that they are "agents."

Duvar English

In an opinion column written for the pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper on Feb. 21, former police intelligence chief Bülent Orakoğlu has implied that artists and musicians who speak out against the government are likely “agents" and need to be investigated. 

This accusation comes as a song called “Geççek” (This will pass) by pop star Tarkan has captured the attention of the Turkish public in the past week. The song is said to be a critique of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. 

In his article, Orakoğlu said that the song was "being used by the opposition Nation Alliance against the government" and that it was being "ideologically embraced by FETÖ and PKK elements," referring to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fetullah Gülen’s network and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

“These should be investigated by intelligence units,” he said.

The title of the article, “Is there the influence of agents or sleeper cells in the art world?” clearly outlined Orakoğlu’s aim in writing. 

He said that the critique of the government by artists such as Fazıl Say, Sezen Aksu, Şahan Gökbahar, Cem Yılmaz, and Tarkan was “not normal in a country like Turkey that is the target of coups and terror.”

"On the other hand, famous people who have been made into agents by legal or illegal deep organizations in Turkey or foreign states' intelligence services, can consist of journalists or people from all professions. It is surely beyond doubt that these relations are in a secret category. They cannot come out or cannot be made to come out very easily. By all means, allegations about Tarkan or an artist are analyzed by intelligence units in a serious manner," he wrote. 

Orakoğlu's comments come as thousands of artists, intellectuals, and writers have been targeted in Turkey under Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government, especially in the aftermath of the coup attempt against the government in July 2016.