Thursday, January 3, 2013

19 Thousand and 507 Websites Blocked in 6 Years

published in Milliyet daily, translated by GIT North America

The book entitled “10 Years of Freedom of Speech,” and published by IPS Foundation of Communications/Bianet, evaluates Turkey’s freedom of speech. 
The book was co-edited by Emek Çaylı ve Gülsüm Depeli and includes contributions by Fikret İlkiz and Reporters without Borders’ Turkey Chapter representative Erol Önderoğlu. Bullet points from the book include the following:
-        At least 489 media workers and at least 64 media organizations were attacked over the last 10 years. Most of these attacks were physical. At least 553 assaults against media workers and organizations were recorded in that time period.
-        3 journalists were murdered: İlyas Aktaş (reporter for the journal Revolutionary Democracy) in 2006, Hrant Dink (editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos) in 2007, and Cihan Hayırsever (representative of the television channel Marmara) in 2009.
-        Having issued bans on broadcasting to various organizations amounting to a total of 2 thousand and 921 days in 2002 alone, RTÜK (Radio and Television Supreme Council) shut down 29 radio stations and television channels for a total of 870 days in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
-        20 national television channels had to file defense statements, 33 channels were given warnings, and 9 were obliged to cease broadcasting programs in 2005. Television channel Kanaltürk was penalized with program bans 6 times in 2007 because of the way they broadcasted electoral politics. RTÜK issued a total of 2 thousand and 22 warnings, 262 bans on programs, and 1 decertification of broadcasting from May 2002 until the end of 2008. Throughout the year 2011, RTÜK issued 89 penalty fines to 20 radio stations and 480 TV channels, 383 warnings, 27 bans on programs, and one official notice.

Prime minister opened 4 law suits
-        According to the report  43, one thousand and 46, 6 thousand and 131, 7 thousand and 762, 14 thousand and 737, 19 thousand and 507 sites were blocked in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively as part of the “internet bans.”
-        At least 167 journalists were detained. Among the reasons for their detentions some stood out: “conducting interviews with members of illegal organizations,” “propagating terrorism by publicizing views of the leader of an illegal organization,” and “affiliation with an illegal organization.”
-        Prime Minister opened 4 law suits against media outlets in 2004. He lost 3 of the 6 law suits that he filed against the newspapers Cumhuriyet and Sabah, journal Leman and TV channel Kanaltürk. 7 of the 49 law suits for libel and attack on personal rights that were filed against media professionals were filed by the Prime Minister.
-        Since 2005 approximately 40 official investigations were launched against the [humorous] website Ekşi Sözlük, 5 percent of which were turned into law suits.

5 Other Countries Likewise Censor
Some of the countries with the strictest internet bans are:
Syria: Majority of the bans over the use of internet have “political” justifications. Entering the banned sites is punished by imprisonment.
China: The internet filters that are in place comprise pornography, as well as issues such as police brutality, and the independence of Taiwan and Tibet. The filters apply not only to domestic news outlets but also to international ones.
Iran: The internet is fully controlled by the state. Those who breach the censors are sentenced to prison.
Russia: Capital Moscow is under extensive surveillance.
France: The government of Paris controls the users of internet.