Turkish government 'orchestrated troll armies during pandemic'

Amnesty International has released its 2020/21 International Report, in which it said that the Turkish government orchestrated troll armies during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Governments must cease using the pandemic as a pretext to crackdown on dissent, rein in police overreach, ensure accountability for misconduct, and stop the slide into surveillance states," it said.

Duvar English 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) orchestrated troll armies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International said in its 2020/21 International Report.

In Turkey, the government orchestrated troll armies and imposed online restrictions and misnavigations to distract from certain websites, accounts and inconvenient information," it said. 

The existence of pro-government trolls has long been a subject of criticism against Turkey, with Twitter shutting down some 7,340 accounts for being a part of “state-linked information operations" in June last year. 

The Amnesty International report laid out numerous human rights violations in Turkey, mostly criticizing the judiciary. 

The judiciary disregarded fair trial guarantees and due process and continued to apply broadly defined anti-terrorism laws to punish acts protected under international human rights law. Some members of the judiciary and legal profession were subjected to sanctions for the legitimate exercise of their professional duties," the report read. 

"The judicial harassment of individuals such as journalists, politicians, activists, social media users and human rights defenders for their real or perceived dissent continued," Amnesty International said.

The rights organization also slammed the anti-LGBT rhetoric used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other high-level officials, Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, the failure to release those unjustly convicted under anti-terrorism laws and those held in pre-trial detention as part of COVID-19 measures, enforced disappearances and the reports of torture and ill-treatment.