Sign up for PM Award Updates!
 
 

Turkey Passes Draconian Laws To Stifle Internet

Protesting  internet censorship in Ankara (Pic. hurriyetdailynews.com)


On Wednesday, February 5, Turkey adopted Law 5651 that imposes greater restrictions on an already stifled media. During its passage through parliament, the bill came under fire from the opposition and was later criticised by sections of Turkey’s business community and the European Parliament. Notwithstanding that, the new reality in Turkey will be government agencies authorised to block websites without a judicial order and carry out surveillance through deep packet inspection.

AFPquoted Bilgi University’s law professor, Yaman Akdeniz saying the powers given to the Telecommunications Communications Presidency (TIB) as “Orwellian” and that the measures will “move Turkey away from the European Union in terms of Internet policy, perhaps a few steps closer to China.”
The AFP report included reactions from European regional organisations OESC and the European Union: “Dutch MEP [member of the European Parliament] Marietje Schaake said that in Turkey’s EU accession talks, Brussels needed to tell Ankara such legislation is ‘unacceptable’ and that ‘the rule of law and fundamental freedoms are at the centre of EU policy.'”
Prime Minister Tyyip Erdogan and his government have been facing mounting protests against repression and corruption. Last year Turkey violently suppressed a popular protest in Istanbul’s Gezi Park that saw six deaths. Later last year the media highlighted stories of large-scale corruption that implicated senior politician in the government party. On both issues Erdogan blamed the media – especially the social media – of spreading falsehood and creating unrest. He said during the Gezi Park crisis, “There is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there.”
“Erdogan, Turkey’s all-powerful leader since 2003 is openly suspicious of the Internet, branding Twitter a “menace” for helping organise mass nationwide protests in June in which, six people died and thousands injured,” says AFP.
“Social media was not Erdogan’s biggest problem. His biggest problem was that citizens whose lives and nation harmed by his rule, were fighting back, and they had found an effective medium through which to organise and express their protest. Twitter was the problem because its users had identified Erdogan as the problem,” writes Sarah Kendzior, who writes on politics and the media in a post to Al-Jazira.
Kendzior says that when the powerful condemn the medium it is the marginalised messenger they are after. “It is a tactic reminiscent of dictators facing a challenge to power: Target the medium, slander the messenger, ignore the message.”

Using Social Media For Socal Change: Turkey’s Meltem Arikan Speaks Out

Demonstrations at Gezi Park (Pic courtesy Index on Censorship)


Turkish author and playwright Meltem Arikan who has campaigned long and hard against patriarchy, in an essay and interview with Index on Censorship (IoC) highlights the role of the artist in resisting repression to bring about democratic change, and the part played by social media in that transition.

Arikan was charged as one of the conspirators behind the citizen protests last year in Gezi Park by senior Turkish officials. Her essay, written after she fled into exile in the UK, is in the form of a journal. It highlights Turkish mainstream media wilfully ignoring the people’s outrage expressed by people ‘occupying’ the park, which the more nimble social media – especially twitter – is able to outwit. As interesting are the slogans and graffiti on the walls scrawled by protestors brought face-to-face with officialdom armed with pepper spray and tear gas.
“They learned a valuable lesson — censoring the media had not prevented the people from finding out what was going on. In fact it had the opposite effect. It spawned thousands of new social media users, who understood — some for the first time — what young people have known all their lives, that new media has transformed the way we share and access information and ideas,” Arikan writes.
Click hereto read the essay
In the interview with IoC’s Julia Farrington, Arikan speaks about her play Mi Minor which not only discusses democratisation by challenging the established, oppressive, patriarchal order though social media, but also engages the audience through role playing and the social media.
“During the play the audience could choose to play the President’s deMOCKracy game of the, or support the Pianist’s rebellion against the, system. The Pianist starts reporting all the things that are happening in Pinima through Twitter, which starts a Role Playing Game (RPG) with the audience. Mi Minor was staged as a play where an actual and social media oriented RPG was integrated with the actual performance. It was the first play of its kind in the world,” she says.
Click hereto read the full interview