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Bryan Fogel's “The Dissident” documents Turkey stood up alone for human rights

The brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul in 2018 was certainly an event which shocked the world. As we all remember, Khashoggi, who was a Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist, had walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, for an appointment to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee. But he never walked out. Those who work in and around politics are often aware of the most mundane of political activities, yet few events garner the attention of even those who are the most casual followers of global events like this tragedy did. Now another related event now seems to be causing similar ripples of surprise from the international community.


Thanks to a recently released documentary film created by Oscar winning director Bryan Fogel entitledThe Dissident, viewers are afforded the opportunity to view this tragedy as reconstructed and investigated by the relevant high-level Turkish authorities. What should be inspiring awe, and certainly not shock, is that the Turkish state apparatuses conducted a thorough and complete investigation, shared their findings immediately with all concerned international partners, and swiftly condemned and moved to hold accountable those responsible for this heinous act. Bryan Fogel's film will certainly shed accurate light on the events of 2018 inside the Saudi consulate. Furthermore, it will also bring into clear focus the constructive and beneficial activities the Turkish government undertook to ensure the truth of this matter was known so that the cause of justice might be served in its wake.


Despite the negative foreign media coverage, the value the Turkish government places on all life, and in this case the life of Jamal Khashoggi, should never be underestimated or overlooked. This fact should also come as no revelation or surprise to anyone as this has long been the position of the Turkish people and the Turkish government, backed with overwhelming evidence, that all life is precious and that crimes of this nature will never go unrecognized and never be ignored, no matter the cost. Director Fogel said, “Turkey was the only country in the world that really held Saudi Arabia responsible. I think Turkey was on the right side in the Jamal Khashoggi murder case,” underlining that history will write this truth. On one of his interviews with Judd Apatov, Fogel reminded that Joe Biden had released a statement on Twitter before the US elections basically saying that if he would be elected president, he planned to reexamine the U.S.-Saudi relationship. He added the hashtag #justiceforjamal, and he’s certainly made that promise. Unfortunately, now these electoral promises seem unlikely to be fulfilled because the current president doesn2t seem more likely to uphold justice and human rights above money. 


Much of the initial information and nearly every lead that resulted afterwards came from a surveillance device concealed inside the media room of the Saudi Arabian consulate. This device would have obviously been incredibly hard to put in place undetected and was likely providing information of incredibly high value, as this media room was reportedly the only location inside the consulate with a secure connection Saudi diplomats could use to contact officials back in their home nation. In making the results of the investigation public and sharing all of the gathered information with foreign entities, the Turkish side was forced to reveal the location and use of this device, not only losing access to all future information which would have been gained from it, but also causing a dramatic diplomatic uproar that lasts to this very day, and will likely continue far into the future. This is a dramatically high price to pay for the life of a man who unfortunately can not be saved, and who was not a Turkish citizen or under the protection of the Turkish state in any way. However, out of uttermost respect for life, as well as accountability and justice, the Turkish government revealed their secrets at tremendous cost to their own state, in order to ensure the best possible chance of justice for Jamal Khashoggi and the loved ones he left behind.


Although Mr. Fogel's film is not meant to be a historical textbook per se, the process of its filming was conducted with the full blessing and assistance of the Turkish government wherever possible. This allowed him unprecedented access to all relevant materials, many of which will have been previously unseen by the public. Viewers will certainly have an opportunity to see the reenactment of this crime exactly as it transpired, but also to witness the appropriate and timely response of the Turkish government to this egregious act in the subsequent days and months. As many governments around the world have brushed aside or completely ignored these crimes which have been linked directly to Saudi officials at the highest levels in pursuit of valuable trade pacts and arms deals, the Turkish government in stark contrast has put all matters of wealth and enrichment aside in search of truth, justice, and accountability, regardless of the cost it may entail. While the international community seems to have lost their moral compass, the Turkish state, backed by the full support of President Erdoğan in both voice and deed, has led the way in the pursuit of what is right. The highlighting of this reality in the film is one of its most admirable qualities. Mr. Fogel followed the story of these events wherever the truth led him, free from any bias or preconceived notions, and he should be highly commended for his exceptionally valuable and accurate work.


Source: Barbaros Tapan -