Filiz Gazi / DUVAR

In 2018, a legalized informant system was brought to life via an omnibus bill composed of 50 articles. The practice of awarding informants within the scope of the struggle against terrorism was expanded, and it was recommended that those who reveal crimes or who aid in the capturing of evidence be awarded. 

Following amendment to a law pertaining to the court trials of civil servants and other public officials, it paved the way for the possibility of obtaining results from informant letters that were not processed due to the informant’s name and address not being included and not being based on concrete documents. 

Cyber rights expert and lawyer Yaman Akdeniz, social media platforms are being used as informant mechanisms: “There are tweets being sent to the Twitter account of the General Security Directorate, there are accounts complaining by saying ‘follow this [account],” Akdeniz said. 

Turkey’s informant mechanism cannot quite be evaluated as a complaint system. The term ‘ihbar’ more closely translates to warning, while ‘muhbir’ can be translated as an informant or a rat, while ‘muhbirlik’ means informing or snitching. According to Akdeniz, an ‘ihbar’ is when someone has their purse stolen on the street, and they go to police to notify them about it. To tell the authorities that one’s neighbor is reading a certain newspaper would be considered informing or snitching. 

It can be said that the dangers of ‘informing’ can be found in most countries. Here since everyone who does not share the same ideas as the government is evaluated as dangerous, ‘snitching’ is particularly unique [to Turkey]” said Akdeniz 

Beyond social media accounts, on the website of the Ministry of Interior affairs, there is an “online warning” button. When clicking on this section, you are redirected to the website of the General Security Directorate. 

We asked the Communications Center of the Presidency (CİMER) how many people were informed on via social media between January 1, 2018 and September 25, 2019. We also asked how many people utilized the online warning button on the Ministry of Interior’s website. We received a response from the General Security Directorate, which said that statistics involving this issue are not shared with the public. 

Particularly after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the practice of neighbors informing on neighborhoods became increasingly common in Turkey, as the government was heavily targeting followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, which Turkey has blamed for the botched coup.