Turkish court blocks access to several Kurdish websites on same day

A Turkish court has blocked access to the websites of Avesta Publishing and Kurdish news outlet Rudaw. Twitter accounts of podcast channel Hûrbînî and Kurdish news outlet Jinnews were also restricted in Turkey, whereas the account of Xwebun newspaper was suspended by Twitter.

Duvar English

On Feb. 23 an Ankara court banned several Kurdish websites and social media accounts of publishers, newspapers, and podcasts on “terror propaganda” allegations. 

In a statement made on Avesta Publishing's Twitter account, the publisher stated that the Ankara 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace has blocked access to their website on the grounds of "making propaganda" for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) listed as a terror organization in Turkey, European Union, and USA. 

"http://avestakitap.com does not publish anything other than the promotion and sale of our books. This is de facto censorship and unacceptable," Avesta Publishing added.

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Nahit Eren, who posted on his Twitter account about the decision, said, "In this heavy disaster environment, some are working in a different shift again. The purpose of the access ban decisions taken unlawfully in recent days is censorship. Put an end to these unlawful and undemocratic practices."

Additionally, the Turkish courts banned the Twitter accounts of Kurdish podcast channels Hûrbînî and Jin News Agency (JINHA) along with Xwebun newspaper.

Ankara 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace also blocked access to the website of the Erbil-based broadcaster Rudaw on Feb. 22.

"Among the blocked content upon the request of the General Directorate of Security is a post by Botan Times, a news website of Botan International, which cooperates with Reporters Without Borders," Free Web Turkey's Twitter account said. 

The personal website of Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink, who once lived in Diyarbakır, was also blocked due to "PKK/KCK propaganda."

Evrensel Web TV's YouTube address was among the addresses that were banned from access.

Upon the request of the General Directorate of Security on Feb. 21, Ankara 4th Criminal Judicature of Peace imposed access bans on 340 Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and Youtube URL addresses and websites.  The judge's decision stated, "the URL addresses subject to the request aim to decrease the public's trust in state institutions and terror propaganda is being made in these addresses."

On Feb. 9, Transportation Deputy Minister Ömer Fatih Sayan had met with Twitter executives and stated that "Twitter pledged to further cooperate with Turkey in the fight against disinformation." This meeting was held after the restriction of  Twitter in Turkey for about nine hours following severe criticisms of the government’s response to the two major earthquakes that struck the southeastern region on Feb. 6.