freedom of expression in Turkey
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has submitted a bill consisting of nine articles to regulate social media to parliament. If passed, the bill would require large social media providers to set up an office in Turkey and respond to orders to remove "offensive content" within 48 hours.
Turkish daily Evrensel was issued a 45-day ban on all advertisements as a result of a May 5 column titled "No escape from ill fate." The opinion piece is also the topic of a criminal investigation launched by the presidency on the charges of "targeting the constitutional order through messaging about a coup d'état."
In this edition of Turkey: The Long View, Duvar English columnist Luke Frostick is joined by the president of P.E.N. Turkey, an international organization dedicated to protecting the rights of writers around the world.
CHP Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has prepared a report on rights violations in Turkey in April, saying that there were 271 instances that the right to life was violated. Tanrıkulu, in his report, also cited violations related to COVID-19, mainly stemming from the government's bans on opposition municipalities from carrying out aid campaigns.
MHP deputy Halil Öztürk has submitted a draft bill to parliament that suggests accessing social media with ID numbers. The draft bill added to the concerns in the country on censorship and the freedom of expression, with thousands of people being subjected to fines and jail sentences each year for criticizing the government on social media.
Turkey ranked at 154 in a ranking of press freedoms in 180 countries, in decreasing order. Turkey's "the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists," press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted in their annual World Press Freedom Index.
İbrahim Gökçek and Helin Bölek, two members of Grup Yorum who have been on a death fast with the demand for the ban on their concerts to be lifted for 268 and 265 days, respectively, were taken to a hospital by police officers, prompting concerns on whether a forced intervention process is underway. "No one can silence Grup Yorum. It's either victory or death," Gökçek said.
Six journalists, who were arrested last week over a report covering the funeral of a member of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed in Libya, are being kept in isolation, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer has said upon visiting them in Silivri Prison. "I call on the prison authorities and the Justice Ministry to end this practice," Çakırözer told Duvar on March 11.
Osman Kavala has deemed new "political or military espionage" charges against him "more ridiculous" than the previous accusations. "It's clear that this baseless allegation, which is more ridiculous than the previous ones, aims to invalidate the ECHR's violation ruling and the limitation on imprisonment before the preparation of an indictment to two years that was introduced by the judicial reform package," Kavala said.
Turkey's former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan has said that a group of 15 to 20 university students would govern the country better. He also said that the lack of freedoms is the biggest problem in Turkey. "If I were to list Turkey's problems, I would put the lack of freedoms, especially the freedom of expression, on top. When people can't talk and say, 'There are problems,' you can't begin finding solutions to them," he said.