“Tolaz the Parrot” Locked Up: State of Media in Turkey

Academia and media in Turkey have been devastated by two gruesome decree rulings that stripped academics of their work and shut down over a dozen media organisations. The purge continues with full speed, and an unfortunate victim of imprisonment has been Tolaz the Parrot.

Tolaz the parrot, DIHA

Tolaz the parrot, DIHA

Dicle News Agency (DIHA) offices have been sealed after a ruling by decree decision (October 29th) declared over a dozen media organizations closed in the early hours of November 1st, when there was no office worker there. When the offices were sealed without any prior notification after the tax officers and police made their inspection and reporting, Tolaz the Parrot -the mascot of the news agency- was locked inside, and door-locks were changed.

According to media reports Tolaz answered upon a reporter knocking on the door by saying “Heval who is there” (heval: [Kurdish] brother). Several journalists kept staying at the door of the news agency offices, keeping company to the parrot from a behind the door and waiting for someone to come and open the door to free Tolaz. However for a long time, no official that had answered, seemed willing to take any responsibility, and Tolaz’s fate depended heavily on the bureaucracy of Turkey.

One Nation, One Language, One Parrot?

Contrary to the echoing motto being chanted on streets by many people and political leaders as “One State, One Language, One Nation”, Tolaz the bilingual parrot can speak up to 70 words in both Turkish and Kurdish. Tolaz’s name also comes from Kurdish, and it means “womanizer”.

Caretaker of Tolaz, a DIHA journalist Hayri Demir stated “Tolaz has not been fed since early hours of the day before and he needs food and water urgently. He gets upset when there is no one around him talking; that’s why I brought him to the office. He is quite social, responds when there is doorbell ringing or dances if there is music.”

Amidst the raids on critical news organisations and imprisonment of journalists with alleged crimes of “harbouring terrorist activities without being a member of a terrorist organisation” Tolaz the Parrot is now of symbolic value beyond a pet, in all absurdity of the situation already.

DIHA journalists waiting to free Tolaz

DIHA journalists waiting to free Tolaz

Upon the suffering cries of Tolaz, main opposition CHP’s deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu initiated a process and notified the Çankaya Municipality in Ankara to find a solution, to free the parrot from captivity. Finally when all official steps were taken, Tolaz was saved from captivity at 14.00, thanks to DIHA journalists’ efforts.

As a final word, it would be appropriate to have a closing remark with this couplet from the poet Cemal Süreya:

“Life is short,

Birds are flying…”

 

 

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