Tarik's Reviews > We Are Arrested: A Journalist's Notes from a Turkish Prison

We Are Arrested by Can Dündar
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I think [Can Dundar's "We are arrested" book](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...) can be evaluated from several perspectives. First and foremost, I will say that I appreciate what Can Dundar sincerely did for this country. However, there are times and places where I have to be critical about his judgment and his journalism skills. In fact, the book revealed so much about his character even though whether he intended to show them or not. But let me approach all these thoughts under more appropriate titles:

The quality of the author's writing:

I have finished so many books written in English by native English speakers than Turkish books. Almost all those books were written in an easy and readable format. The ideas and words were flowing, and they were easy to follow. One didn't need to stop and re-read as the sentences and the topics were revealing themselves to the reader rather quickly and easily. I am a Turkish/American and I know Turkish very well. In fact, I could not find the Turkish version of the book. If I could, I would read it instead. The English version seriously needs a proper editorial check. I don't expect Can Dundar to be great in English, but for those -- the English readers -- the book could have been edited for an easier and more pleasant read. Consequently, any reader can see the author's pain of thinking in Turkish and with converting his thoughts into English.

# The content of the book

The book starts with some exciting and worth knowing events: The MIT trucks, ISIS, and Turkish government and their relations, and so on. However, as you continue flipping pages over, rather dull and boring descriptions and depictions crawl in the book. There are places where you feel like the author was playing towards more pages to put in his book to make it look like a book. I believe that there is a column-length of information in the book that is worth reading. The plot of the book is slow, and therefore, I had to skip a lot of pages to get to the main idea of the chapters. I seriously don't want to read many pages about how the walls are looking like in the Silivri prison or how the mirrors were hung on the walls. He went beyond all those depictions and put the plans of his room in the jail that he drew during his stay. I guess it is just one more page to make the book a little thicker for the readers' eyes. Due to all these and more reasons, I decided to take one star off the rating. I think playing the page card when writing a book is utterly unprofessional and defies the honest and honorable motivation for writing a book.

In Turkey, people generally believe that when intellectuals and thought-criminals were imprisoned, they will come out with a more mature and intellectually advanced mindset after their release. I think my expectations were shaped by these general thoughts, but what I see was quite the opposite. I don't see any changes in Can Dundar during his imprisonment. There could be some, but not enough to say he has changed enough to reach that level of intellectual nirvana. The book is simply his diary in which he mostly talks about how much support he got from the international community, how frustrated he became time to time and so on, and a lot of depiction of his prison. He actually attempted to be like the old time intellectuals but failed. That's okay, though. Not everyone will be like them.

Judgemental capabilities and credibility of the author

For many, Can Dundar is a great journalist. However, many people, in Turkey, are suffering from ideologies that they think are the only truth. In fact, Turkey has experienced tremendous sufferings from the militia mentality for solving the state problems. Can Dundar is mostly loved and respected among those who have very strict and isolated ideologies. They have either a corrupted leftist and nationalist ideology or what they have is truly a leftist and nationalist ideology. However, the nationalist adventures caused a great stress to Turkey many times. Today's Islamists were created by the oppressive regimes of the nationalists reigned the country for many years. And the followers of the nationalists motivated with the extreme secularism were strictly against the freedom of worship in the state institutions. They were confused in secularism as it was for the state, not the people. People should have lived in any way they wanted. They enforced their extreme secularist ideas onto everyone without respecting their personal beliefs and choices. The religion and religious were forced into the boundaries of their homes. They were expelled from universities just because they wanted to live their rights. Therefore, they created today's oppressive monsters opened the gap between different groups of people even more. Any person who has a sane mind and the historical knowledge of Turkey will make the same deduction quickly. Why am I telling all these? Because I don't care how much someone is loved among bigots and closed minded people. I care how much he is loved and respected among sane and moderate minded people because they will be a better judge as to whether someone is worth being considered, loved, and respected.

There are places where he revealed his incompetence in proper judgment when he accused of the Gulen congregation of the failed military coup attempt as well as the document forgery. First, how do you draw the line to decide who is a Gulen follower or not, especially in a social movement in which there is no an official followers list? In fact, all the coup-attempters told that they were not from the Gulen congregation many of them even didn't like him. Also, the military was the home of the nationalists, Kemalists, and extreme secularists as they claimed many times. They overthrew the elected government many times in the history when the Gulen congregation was not even known. Aside from that, just because someone says that s/he is a part of the Gulen congregation or some social movement for that matter, does it make her/him so? Or are his/her mistakes enough to judge an entire social movement or institution? How will he prove that the people, he claimed as federal criminals by accusing them of forging legal documents to persecute journalists, are actually and officially from Gulen congregation and taking their orders from Gulen? Gulen, in many news, told many times that he does not support the coup and he was sorry for the lives lost during the attempt. Then, Can Dundar must prove his claims in the book if he accuses people of such a horrendous act. But I have not seen any proof except for accusation. So, I found it strictly against the ethics of journalism, but merely a propaganda to those they don't like in the beginning.

Like many people in Turkey, Can Dundar seems to be having the same mental sickness of accusing people without real proofs. For many Turkish people, it is highly important to be part of a social group. It is that group that you ideas will be listened, where you will feel safe, and where you can fight the so-called common enemy: Other currents. Therefore, their passion for belonging to somewhere often leads them to make false accusations if needed for the sake of their groups. The passion leads to radicalism, then the line between wrong and right disappears. What's real and right becomes what groups believe it is. Perhaps, this is the common mental weakness of the other Middle Eastern countries. But, what shapes people lives is the group psychology, not the well-thought judgments based on realities.

All these reasons, I have explained so far, greatly reduce the credibility of the author. His sided comments are affecting his reasoning faculties which can be seen easily in his book. He reveals his character with his writing style as well as his perspective on the events he experienced. However, I cannot comment on his personality any further than what I have done already for I have mixed feelings. I am not sure whether he is a brave soul or just motived by his passion for fame, group psychology, his political agenda, or his ideologies. It is hard to tell. He may have been done all these with sincere motivations as well. However, there are many questions lingering in my mind. If you are familiar with Turkish politics, the dynamics behind it are very different than most of the Western countries. For instance, if you are supported by famous politicians as well as intellectuals, then you have many reasons to be brave against the threats of imprisonment. When he returned from England, he knew that there were a lot of people as well as politicians, MPs, and intellectuals supporting him. How many times does an ordinary thought-criminal get a visit from some of the top diplomats and get assured that they are behind you? He is also the head of a newspaper, Cumhuriyet, in Turkey and he can reach to millions. Unlike many other newspapers, Cumhuriyet has a very staunch reader population. In fact, most of them are so fixed-minded, they will never leave their newspaper even if they publish rubbish as long as that rubbish is not against their realities. Turkey is a very divided country, and people don't like to explore other ideologies or lifestyles. They are mostly happy campers at where they are. For many, for instance, leaving a political party they once supported or criticizing them is simply a treason. When you know all these facts about the readers of a newspaper, you cannot stop but think what this newspaper and his editorials and columnists give these people to keep them still? CHP, a political party feeding from the same roots, once tried to get closer to other groups in Turkey, and many people from its voters and supporters grumbled, and many of them even protested such a move. I think this last example is a clear indication of what a newspaper needs to do to keep their user base in Turkey. Don't get me wrong, there a few newspapers which try to keep their liberal stance, but Cumhuriyet is hardly one of them.

I would like to believe in his brave soul. But under the light of all these facts, I have some mixed feelings, as well.

I have read Can Dundar's book under all these realities of Turkey. Otherwise, what he explains will lack a sufficient context to truly understand where he stands.

Anyways, I think three stars for this book is more than enough, but I respect his journey on this painful path and his efforts on his book.

Lastly, I am a person who criticizes any group if I see them doing something that is against my principles. Therefore, as opposed to popular belief in Turkey, which is to identify someone as other if they criticize anything, I am not from Islamists or Justice and Development Party.
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Reading Progress

November 17, 2016 – Started Reading
November 17, 2016 – Shelved
November 17, 2016 – Finished Reading

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