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Is the Turkish Government Trying to Limit Freedom of Expression on the Internet?

Today I woke up with the news that Turkish riot police has kicked out protesters from Taksim square, symbol of the Istanbul protests against Erdogan's government. Since the first actions of police violence against a pacific group of people camping in Gezi Park to save it from complete destruction and its replacement with another shopping mall instead. National media has silent the protests, showcasing penguin documentaries and other kind of programmes that, apparently, were more relevant than the happenings originated in Istanbul and that spread all around the country. In contrast with this, social media was full of information about the protests, and soon Turkish and international groups started to be organised in order to pass over the information blockade imposed by national media.

 

The free flow of information present on the Internet upset Turkish PM, who stated that 'social media is the worst menace to society'. Definitely for a controlled and submissive one that would be willing to accept the impositions and legislative changes that are being implemented in the country. Has Erdogan considered social media as a menace so much that Turkish police forces have arrested at least 25 people for using social media to protest. This alarming situation becomes even more serious if we take into account that reporters without borders qualify freedom of press in Turkey as 'difficult' and place the country in the 154th position of their Freedom of Press Index of 2013. This control over statements on Twitter and actions on the Internet reminds me to the Ministry of Truth of Orwell's book 1984 which, by the way, Amazon is selling more and more after all the internet spionage scandals in the USA

 

Freedom of expression and freedom of press are two fundamental pillars of a well functioning democracy. Punishing statements on the Internet as a way of repression against peaceful protest should not be admitted in any country. Moreover, and to be honest, I seriously doubt about the capacity of an unorganised group of anonymous people in their 20's to challenge Turkish national security with their tweets. What was the objective of the Turkish government with this action? I cannot see many other answers than the criminalization of freedom of expression on the internet and the spread of fear among the peaceful protesters and supporters of this movement.

Some governments seem to don´t understand yet that the Internet has no borders and that this kind of actions of repression against freedom of expression have no effect but the one of giving more reasons to join those protests.

 

Saying this, it is such a pity I will not be able to listen to Gürkan Özturan, the author of The Radical Democrat, on our next conference, dealing with internet and social media as tools of freedom, which we are co-hosting with MEP Paweł Zalewski.

 

Update: You can find here the motion for a resolution on the situation in Turkey, voted on the 11/06/2013 in the European Parliament

 

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