Turkish Prime Minister R. T. Erdogan is one of the longest serving political leaders in Euro-Asian part of the world, someone who successfully survived economic crisis, political plots and opposition games against his regime. Beside the fact that since he took power in Turkey many positive things, especially when it comes to state economy and political influence in the region (not often in right direction) Erdogan has problems with other issues.
Freedom of Press and Freedom of Speech are under attack recently in Turkey and those who don’t agree with Erdogan’s policies are sent behind a bars. More than 100 journalists is currently imprisoned in Turkey for a years without court processes and without a respect to their right and basic human rights. Turkey avoided to listen international institutions when it comes to these issues and still refuses to accept standards of Freedom of Press and Speech as they’re in the rest of the World.
166 years to journalist, prosecutors asking for 3000 years
Dunja Mijatovic, who’s OSCE Freedom of Media Representative, last year sent another letter to the Turkish government urging them to work on freedom of press reforms. But it seems that Erdogan will continue going against those recommendations adding to them social media and new channels of journalism or citizen journalism.
“We discussed media freedom challenges in Turkey that require immediate attention, more specifically imprisonment of journalist and internet restrictions. I asked the Government to improve the situation of imprisoned journalists, for example though alternatives to pre-trial detention, such as release on bail”, said Mijatovic in 2013.
According to the letter OSCE’s study shows that journalists in Turkey can be imprisoned up to three years before their trails begin, some of them are faced with multiply charges and can be faced with more than 150 trials at one moment. According to same study longest prison sentence a Turkish journalist received is 166 years, while longest sentence sought by prosecutors has been 3,000 years.
Erdogan vs. Social Media
Following the latest “coup”, corruption scandal and protests at Gezi Park in Istanbul PM Erdogan decided to start new crusade. His new targets are social media sites as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. While he decided not to shut down YouTube and Facebook, for now, on Thursday night local time Erdogan blocked access to Twitter in Turkey.
“We will eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic”, said Erdogan in Bursa on election rally.
Recently Turkish Parliament passed highly controversial law which allows to the government’s Telecommunications Board to “shut down” websites based on anything what could be judged as “privacy violations”.
Just moments after he finished his Bursa speech Twitter was shut down. His own Press Office released statement in which says that had no option other than to ban Twitter. Some statistics show that some 10 million Turkish citizens and those who are living in Turkey are using Twitter daily. Following shutdown those who still had a chance to tweet started using hashtags #TwitterBlockedInTurkey and #DictatorErdogan.
What Erdogan is doing today is not much different from what is happening in Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and some post-SSSR countries over the last few years (or decades). But in Turkish case this could become even bigger problem because Turkish citizens are not those who are bowing easily to governmental leaders or Presidents and they are ready to fight for their own rights.
Also it is important to say that every try to suppress flow of informations and communication between Turkey and the rest of World would violate would just ignite even stronger opposition to the government and Erdogan himself. Question is how modern world and international organizations of which Turkey is a member will react on this move by Erdogan government?