Individual Disarmament and Violence News in Turkey Local Media Trainings

Umut Foundation
Local Media Seminar on
“Individual Armament and News on Violence in Turkey”

May 22-23 2010, Dedeman Hotel



Dear my guests, Welcome.
I am pleased to be with you in Konya, in the 7th of our Local Media Seminars on "Individual Disarmament and Violence News"  
Umut Foundation has been working in fields of individual disarmament, violence, peace culture and superiority of legal system for the past 16 years and has been sharing the information and research results gathered with the public at every chance. Media’s support has always been with us throughout this process. We, as Umut Foundation, have been and will continue to share our researches, problems we observe, our criticisms and assessments with the media and with the public through the media.
’Violence’ is one of the subjects that the media is the most attracted to in our country and probably in every other location of the world. At the same time, violence is a widely committed contravention against ’human rights’ and ’the right to life’ and unfortunately, it is an important part of our lives. 
Some of the works done on the topics media and violence indicate that media, especially television, present violence to the public as a ’normal’ way to solve problems. 
Violence shown by the media is also getting attention from us, the viewers, it is even demanded. The causes beneath this attention and demand have always been a subject for many discussions of the scientists working in the discipline of communication and sociology. 
Regardless the causes, as a citizen my opinion is: As the media presents an important part of life such as violence, usually with exaggeration, it is telling that we, the viewers, and the media consumers are not living in a secure environment at all. It is showing us, viewers, that violence is everywhere and we need to ’fear’ this violence. Most probably, this discourse of ’fear’ and ’insecurity’ is effective in people’s armament and increase the tendency for providing their own securities by themselves. Discourse of fear and insecurity is just as wrong as making violence an ordinary thing.
Umut Foundation has been researching individual disarmament in addition to activities for molding public opinion. As United Nations Consulting NGO and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) Turkey representative, our foundation has been following this subject closely in our country as well as in the world. Because individual armament holds utmost importance and is a widely-spread problem in Turkey as much as it is in the world. 
Today, approximately 3,000 of our citizens lose their lives by means of firearms every year. The number of our citizens possessing licensed or unlicensed guns is rather high. This problem is directly related to our right to life. That is why it is a particular concern to every citizen.
I would like to remind: The only purpose of a gun is to ’kill’. Therefore, individual armament is the most extreme point of violence.
In the media, we frequently come across life stories that prove this reality to us many times. At least, we all have to be aware of this reality: ’the right to live’ is the most basic right of human beings. This right is equal. One of the most important social problems breaking this equality is individual armament. 
As Umut Foundation, when we deal with the subject individual armament, we emphasize the consciousness over the superiority of legal system and the peace culture in addition to how big of a responsibility this is.
You, our journalist citizens undertake an important role in the subject. When you come across violence incidents, when you build their news stories and when you are breaking the news to us, please remember that the situation you encountered is primarily related to human right to live. 
3 years ago, when we started the ’Individual Disarmament and Violence News’ Local Media Seminar Series, which we organized the 7th of it today, our target was to learn about, assess and discuss how violence was put into news form with our local media member friends. Starting from local, our aim was for the media to have a critical approach while remaining in accordance to requirements of objectivity and their occupations over their way of reflecting incidents caused by violence and individual armament towards the public in our country. 
Because in order to contribute to the envisagement of a violence-free public, we as Umut Foundation regard questioning and making an effort to understand the reasons, origins and results of why violence is a focus of the media as responsibilities we need to undertake.  We share this responsibility of ours with you, our journalist friends, through this seminar series.
Within this context, we don’t just say ’no’ to violence in the media. We make effort to understand the violence presented to us through media and it’s consequences in the public from every aspect. Substantially, the content of this seminar series is based on this understanding. 
Violence news tell a variety of life stories to the media viewer. How sensitive are we to the realities and problems shown in these stories, which we consume so easily? Are our journalist friends that witness these news and incidents aware of the role and responsibility they undertake as the narrators of these stories? 
These questions constitute the base of our current training program. Therefore, today we came together here, in order to organize the Local Media Seminar on Individual Disarmament and Violence News in Turkey, with the purposes of probing media’s way of reflecting incidents related to violence and individual armament towards the public and discussing how a critical and objective approach can be built while remaining in accordance to requirements of the occupation.
I would like to extend my appreciation to all spokespersons and session moderators. I especially extend my appreciation to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Association for their contributions in the organization of this meeting.
Again I say welcome to all of you and wish you a productive seminar where the participation would be high.