An update on the “Twitter Trial”

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In a blog posted earlier today, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher, Andrew Gardner gave an update on the “Twitter Trial” in Izmir.

He writes, in part:

The fact this travesty continues says a lot about the sorry state of freedom of expression in Turkey, and the authorities’ extreme intolerance of dissenting opinions. Very few positives came out of the hearing. The court decided that the Prime Minister, who is listed as a “victim” in the case, has the right to intervene as an injured party. However, it decided that he should not be called on to provide a statement to the court.

Read the rest of his blog, along with ways to take action, here.

 

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Erdogan “I don’t believe in equality between men and women”

Women gather to march from Galatasaray Square to Taksim to protest the harassment and rape by the police under the custody. They make a press statement and sit-in protest at Taksim Square.in October 2013 © Mehmet Kaçmaz/NarPhotos Used by permission.

Women gather to march from Galatasaray Square to Taksim to protest the harassment and rape by the police under the custody. They make a press statement and sit-in protest at Taksim Square.in October 2013 © Mehmet Kaçmaz/NarPhotos Used by permission.

What can one say about a leader of state who meets with representatives of women’s organizations and tells them blithely, “I don’t believe in equality between men and women.”

In a recent blog for the Huffington Post, Sophia Jones argues that conditions are worsening for women in Turkey.

Continue reading

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The Fusun Erdogan Case: “You just be afraid of us”

Last December, I wrote  on the case of  Fusun Erdogan, who was sentences to life imprisonment plus 300 years without the possibility of parole.  Erdogan was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization in a trial criticized by Reporters without Borders and other journalist organizations. As the president of the European Federation of Journalists stated when the verdict was announced, “this is completely absurd. The verdict is a disgrace to the Turkish judicial system and an expression of the absolute power of the government.”

Journalists are not terrorists

Journalists are not terrorists

Continue reading

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“Twitter Trial” in Izmir

Coming in the context of repeated efforts by the Turkish government to block social media outlets, the next hearing of the Izmir “Twitter Trial” is receiving international attention.  The case involves 29 men and women on trial Twitter messages they sent during the Gezi Protests last June.  

101531408-480649813.530x298 Continue reading

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The frustrating road to justice in the Sarısülük case

Ethem Sarısülük

Ethem Sarısülük

The case of Ethem Sarısülük, killed by a policeman’s bullet during the Gezi protests, has been one of on-going concern for Amnesty International.  Yesterday,  the trial had its fourth, inconclusive hearing and Amnesty was there to follow the case. Continue reading

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Twitter ban lifted, but the dangers remain

Using hashtags like #TekrarHoşgeldinTwitter (welcome back Twitter), the news that the Turkish government had finally lifted the ban on twitter came across my desktop this afternoon.

Twitter is no longer banned in Turkey

Twitter is no longer banned in Turkey

I don’t think I was the only one who sighed in relief.  Though the government response was slow, coming some twenty-four hours after the Turkish Supreme Court had issued its decision, this was an important victory for freedom of expression and the rule of law in Turkey. 

Still, as one colleague noted, it took not one, but two court orders to finally end the banWhen a lower court ruled against the ban, the government chose to drag its feet, ensuring that twitter was not freely accessible during the important municipal elections this past Sunday (though many tech-savvy Turks were able to work around the ban).

Moreover, as Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey notes, the government’s attack on twitter is part of a larger effort to control social mediaContinue reading

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More internet censorship in Turkey

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A few days ago it was twitter.  Today Turkey has blocked Youtube.  As Amnesty’s researcher on Turkey, Andrew Gardner, says, “The Turkish government appears to be itching for pretexts to close down websites because of their capacity to mobilize dissenting opinion and broadcast embarrassing material.”

Amnesty International has called on the total ban to be lifted, noting

Even if the Turkish authorities have legitimate concerns about some of the content that might appear, it is completely disproportionate to enforce a blanket YouTube ban in the entire country. Access to YouTube must be restored immediately and the authorities must stop blocking sites that expose abuses and provide a platform for dissenting views.

 

 

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Amnesty’s twitter action against Turkey’s twitter ban

Amnesty International issued a press statement today condemning the Turkish government’s ban on twitter:

The Turkish government attacked social media companies and users, with the Prime Minister referring to Twitter as “a scourge”. The attacks formed part of a broader policy to silence and smear those speaking out against the government’s crackdown on the protest movement, including doctors, lawyers and journalists.

Amnesty International has also called for a twitter action to protest the ban.   Below are some suggested tweets:

.@RT_Erdogan ‘Eradicate’ attack on internet freedom, not Twitter. Unblock Twitter in Turkey! #TwitterisblockedinTurkey #internetimedokunm

.@RT_Erdogan Asıl ‘bela’ Türkiye’de internet özgürlüğünü engellemektir! Twitter yasağı kalksın! http://bit.ly/1ilGUgu #internetimedokunma

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A late night attack on internet freedom

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was as good as his word.  According to Reuters, he told a friendly crowd at a rally in Bursa earlier today:

“Twitter, mwitter!,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a rally in the northwestern province of Bursa, in a phrase translating roughly as “Twitter, schmitter!”.

“We will wipe out all of these [presumably referring to social media, which he has attacked broadly in the past few weeks],” he said.

“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”

Recep_Tayyip_ErdoganNot long after midnight, the Turkish government blocked access to twitter for millions of users in Turkey. (Advice on by-passing the ban began to be distributed by angry Turkish internet users minutes later).

Writing from Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey described the move as ” a desperate and futile measure, the latest move in the AKP’s clampdown on freedom of expression.”

Indeed, this ban is the latest in a long series of attacks on freedom of expression in Turkey that have only accelerated since the Gezi protests this past June.  Now, with local elections only weeks away and a series of leaks aimed at embarrassing the ruling AKP, the Turkish government seems to be searching for any means to control public discourse.

Peaceful protests have been brutally suppressed and critical journalists have been regularly targeted.  This latest assault on freedom of expression is simply another salvo in a broad scale attack on the basic right to freedom of expression in Turkey.

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

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Ali Ismail would have been Twenty today

Ali Ismail Korkmaz would have been twenty today.  Instead, he was brutally beaten to death last June during the Gezi protests. There is substantial evidence of police involvement in his murder and in a police cover up after the fact. Click here for an Amnesty blog on the campaign for justice in his case.

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