Individual Disarmament Conference on the Role of Media Search

The main purpose of the Umut Foundation is to underpin trust in the state of law in our country and in our region. With this purpose in mind, and as part of our effort to attract attention to the terrifying increase of individual arming in our country and search for the reasons why people require arms, as well as raise consciousness of this subject among the general public, the Search Conference on “The Role of Media in Individual Disarming” was held on 28 September, 1998 at the Istanbul Dedeman Hotel. 
The Umut Foundation has been contributing to peace on a national and international level and leading the promotion, education and implementation of peaceful reconciliation methods in Turkey, Europe and the Middle East.

In our country, reports of injuries or deaths resulting from the unconscious use of weapons regularly appear in the press. Individual arming not only affects innocent people but also strengthens illegal powers and helps form groups with violent tendencies.

On this year’s “Individual Disarming” day, we wanted to emphasize the role of the media in individual disarming. The meeting started at 1:30 PM with an opening speech in the Istanbul Dedeman Hotel. In the first part of the meeting, emphasis was given on international circulation of individual arms sales and its effects and that individual arming is no longer only a national problem for countries, but has taken international dimensions.

This subject was brought up by Mr. Ali Kaan Orbay, a member of the Foreign Ministry’s General Directorate Deputy Office for International Arms Control and Disarming. There were explanations of the United Nations’ activities and the global structure of the issue.

The activities of related non-governmental organizations’ in a range of countries on individual disarming were explained by the representatives of those organizations.

Speaker Richard Aborn will explain the situation in the USA. Richard Aborn supervised the “Center for Preventing Armed Violence” organization with his experience as a deputy district attorney in New York, and he has started a training program entitled “Talking openly about Risks”, illustrating the undesired results of keeping weapons.

A search conference was held on 28 September 1998 with the participation of many members of the press. Guest speakers provided a range of information in the first part of the conference. Figures provided by Ms. Nazire Dedeman in her opening speech, founding President of the Umut Foundation, showed how rapidly individual arming had advanced in Turkey. Speaking on the issue, Ms. Dedeman said that “The number of weapons sold in Turkey has increased 358% in the last 8 years, while the number of unlicensed weapons, captured only in areas controlled by the police, was 95,114 over the last 10 years. The number of weapons captured has increased by 612%, from 1987 to 1996. These figures do not include the area controlled by gendarmerie. As people are aware, these weapons are resold in the market”.

Later, guest speakers spoke about their organizations’ activities in this area.

Mr. Ali Kaan Orbay, a member of the Foreign Ministry’s directorate on the control of International Weapons and Disarming, spoke about international activities supported by Turkey regarding removal of small arms and light weapons. He cited that studies show that 91 out of 96 conflicts which broke out between 1989-1995 were civil wars, caused mainly for ethnic reasons and that it was usually small arms and light weapons that were used in these conflicts. He added that 90% of those harmed in these conflicts were civilians and that 85% of them were women and children. The seriousness of this has made the control of small arms and light weapons an issue for the United Nations since early 1990s, and has encouraged the United Nations play a leading role in this field. Apart from activities carried out by The United Nations, seminars and meetings have been held by different countries to discuss the control of small arms and light weapons. A conference was held in Oslo by Norway on 13-14 July 1998 , with the participation of 21 countries.

Since 80% of global weapons trade is carried out by OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe) countries and most of the leading weapons sellers are member of OSCE, it has been said that Turkey has an effective role in the activities and will continue to support activities in this area with the belief that the OSCE has a special responsibility in this issue.

Representatives from the organisations later explained the steps being taken by other countries’ non governmental organizations. Mr. Richard Aborn, presided the ‘Centre of Armed Violence Prevention’ organisation shared the experience he had gained as a deputy district attorney in New York citing the long and hard struggle to issue a law called ‘Brady Bill’ in individual disarming in the United States took 7 years. Aborn said that when he started campaigning against individual arming in 1985, 60 people were dying by snub nosed bullets and 103 people by barrel bullets every day in the United States. That there was no control over buying arms in some states in the US while being forbidden in some states encouraged people to use arms in illegal ways. The law known as the ‘Brady Bill’ provided nationwide weapons control. This law allowed people to own arms after a certain period and prevented people from having arms whenever they wanted.

When Aborn was explaining the role of media in this progress, he highlighted the two different kinds of media as the entertainment media and the news media, and said that the entertainment media included many different kinds of violence. Some studies showed that a child under the age of 7 spends 5,000 hours watching TV and during these 5,000 hours they will watch 50,000 occurrences of violence, mostly committed with the use of arms. This reduces a child’s ability to distinguish between real violence from entertaining violence. Another obstacle they faced in their progress was the second Amendment of American Constitution, which guarantees the right bear arms as a right to live. For this reason, they followed a different way with media; firstly, by persuading the media not to broadcast acts of violence, secondly by explaining the reality of the second Amendment to media and thirdly, educating members of the media of the effects of violence in real life. The changing role of the media in the space of 7 raised public awareness and put pressure on politicians.

Australia’s National Authority for Weapons has continued the activities outlined below, which were determined in 1988:

1. A National Authority for Weapons should be formed to assess and reconsider the arming problem in Australia and propose solutions to the problem and to function as a data bank to collect information, statistics and studies to issue a law for weapons.

2. We want Australian States and Regional Governments to determine the minimum requirements to be applied to people who want to own guns. We propose that to gain a licence to own guns, people should attend a two hour course each week lasting for 20 weeks, and pass the written and applied examinations at the end of the course. Licences should be renewed every two years after brush-up courses.

As in the US, the Australian gun control lobby fought to issue a national control law among the states and worked in cooperation with media and ensured the collection of arms after a successful campaign. Twelve books have been published in order to inform the general public. Furthermore, Australia’s National Authority still continues its education programs for schools.

Our fourth speaker, Mr. Gill Marshall Andrews, is the president of the ‘Weapons Control Network’ organisation in the UK. After ten year struggle, all non governmental organizations in the UK successfully campaigned for legislation forbidding individual arming, and they succeeded in influencing public opinion in this direction. Andrews said how worked hard towards the enactment of legislation, and had carried out monitoring activities for the sale of weapons and motoring the implementation of the law. He said that the statistics were very important for them during this period and when they were evaluating the statistics they put emphasize on where they are going to, rather than where they are, and tried to take measurements.

In the second part of the conference, participants addressed their questions to speakers and discussed the situation in Turkey, citing how insufficient the data was, the measurements that the media and non governmental organizations needed to take, and proposed suggestions for the problem.

Here are the suggestions after the conference in which members of the media also criticized themselves.

1-Convincing the visual and print media that news about disarming, and refraining from broadcasting violence could also ensure exciting stories to increase viewing figures.
2- Clearly defining ‘violence’ to control ‘violence’.
3- Applying a quota to TV channels instead of closing them, as RTUK (Radio Television High Commission) does often.
4- Favourite family shows, in particular, should draw emphasis to this subject.
5- Each columnist should write at least 5 times a year about this subject.
6- Improving the third page journalism and making it a campaign journalism. 
7- Monitoring and updating statistical data about individual disarming and sharing the findings with the media.
8- In evaluating numerical data, placing stress on where to go, instead of where we are.
9- Carrying out surveys on the subject in certain periods and publishing the results.
10- The families of those injured and killed in such events should come together and organize activities which would attract the attention of politicians.
11- Organizing another conference on this subject and encouraging the participation of newspaper owners, government representatives and politicians.
12- Establishing a ‘National Weapons Control’ unit consisting of lawyers, criminology specialists and representatives of other disciplines, which would be effective in issuing laws.
13- Avoiding inciting violence while broadcasting weapons related events.
14- In order to prevent accidents happening after supportive games, team administrators should avoid encouraging the use of arms in their speeches, and condemn such events.
15- Condemning the use of arms at wedding ceremonies; if celebrities behave in such a manner, they should be exposed and condemned.
16- Ensuring that obtaining an arms licence is more difficult.
17- Reconsidering the ‘media ethic law’.
18- The Umut Foundation starting a ‘Drop the Arms’ campaign 
19- Requesting information from the Foreign Ministry and the Internal Ministry, and other Government organizations about disarming.
20- Pressure from non govermental organizations on media and news paper owners.
21- Encouraging the media to employ women administrators.
22- Doing frequency setups on TV channels. Carrying out necessary legal arrangements as quickly as possible and forbidding the violence in programs.
23- Consumer pressure on advertisers, preventing violence in television advertising.
24- The Umut Foundation should start a program for schools, organizing conferences at schools about weapons control and making education programs against ‘weapons culture’.
25- Encouraging weapons to be kept in locked places at home, if necessary.
26- Making sanctions against violence more effective with the introduction of programs. 
27- Working in cooperation with radio stations to give positive messages.
28- Arranging internal training programs for executive editors.
29- After the campaign when the guns are collected, melting the guns and using them for the public good and making them a symbol.

Members of the media who participated in the conference:

1- Edip Emil Oymen, Milliyet
2- Nail Güreli, Milliyet
3- Musa Ağacık, Milliyet
4- Ayşegül Özkaragöz, Radikal
5- Zeynep Atikkan, Hürriyet
6- Mehmet Ali Birand
7- Serpil Yılmaz, Sabah
8- Ruhat Mengi, Sabah
9- Metin Münir, Yeni Yüzyıl
10- Funda Özkan, Yeni Yüzyıl
11- Savaş Ay, Yeni Yüzyıl
12- Fikret İlkiz, Cumhuriyet
13- Zeki Kentel, Nokta
14- Gönül Çınat, Viva
15- Murat Atı, ATV
16- Ferruh Doğan
17- Murat İnceoğlu, Çağdaş Gazeteciler Derneği
18- Füsun Özbilgen, Rota
19- Hüseyin Başusta, TRT

After the search conference, the Individual Disarming ‘Media’s Contribution to Peace’ award ceremony took place at the Dedeman Hotel.

In the last part of the conference, the speakers who contributed to individual disarming – the media members outlined below - who raised awareness of subject , received the Umut Foundation Honour Plaque.

1- Ali Kırca - ATV
2- Barbaros Talu - Cine 5 Sport Service Manager
3- Çiğdem Anat - EKO TV
4- Edip Emil Öymen – Milliyet
5- Haluk Şahin – Kanal D News Department Chief
6- Nail Güreli – Milliyet
7- Şansal Büyüka – Show TV Sport Service Manager
8- Zülfü Livaneli – Milliyet
9- Murat Atıl – ATV
10- Savaş Ay – ATV
11- Kürşat Başar – Yeni Yüzyıl
12- Zeynep Atikkan – Hürriyet

Nazire Dedeman
Ali Kaan Orbay
Richard Aborn
Jill Marshall Andrews
Randy Marshall