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.
As Amnesty’s Turkey Researcher, Andrew Gardner notes in a blog he wrote earlier this week,
During [the Gezi protests], social media played a central role, allowing protestors to share information on where police were breaking up the protests or to request medical support or information on individuals whose whereabouts were unclear. With the mainstream media failing to report the events, social media platforms also allowed the public to find out what was going on in the streets.
The authorities and chiefly the Prime Minister responded by attacking the use of Twitter and other social media. The day after the Prime Minister famously called Twitter a ‘menace’, arrests were carried out in the western city of Izmir for tweeting about the protests. The PM is himself listed as a “victim” in the case. In the last month, both Twitter and YouTube have been blocked in Turkey. While the ban on Twitter has been lifted, the authorities continue to threaten its closure.
Amnesty is working to call attention to this outrageous attack on freedom of expression. Gardner will be observing the trial in Izmir and you can follow events at @andrewegardner
Amnesty is also calling for a major twitter action to call attention to the trial. Here is what you can do to help:
1. Retweet one of the defendants’ tweets shown below, which is cited in the case sheet against one of the defendants.
Here is English translation of @ozquner’s tweet:
We are resisting under the rain, come on Izmir to Gundogdu #resistizmir #resistgezipark #geziparkinizmir
2. Tweet at Turkey’s Prime Minister, letting him know what you think:
– .@RT_Erdogan Exchanging information on twitter is not a crime #dropthecharges #IzmirTwitterCase
– .@RT_Erdogan Asking for help on twitter in the face of police violence is not a crime #dropthecharges #IzmirTwitterCase
– .@RT_Erdogan Calling ppl out to peacefully demonstrate vs police violence isn’t incitement to break to law #IzmirTwitterCase #dropthecharges
3. Send messages of support using the hashtags #IzmirTwitterCase and #dropthecharges
St. Lawrence University