Tag Archives: social media

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-04-13

1 – Mixed messages on the Kurdish situation pre-election – The AK-Party’s shifting stance on the Kurdish situation became even more confusing this weekend after a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Ağrı. Details on the reasons for the clash are unclear, as both sides have blamed the other, and the number of casualties involved is also in dispute, but at least two people (at least one of them a PKK soldier) have died and a number of Turkish soldiers were injured. President Erdoğan and PM Davutoğlu blamed the PKK and attempted to implicate the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) after the incident, but HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the operation was staged, and pointed out that it was HDP members who went to rescue the injured soldiers, sharing links to photo and video on social media to back this claim up. The TSK released a statement thanking the civilians who helped the soldiers today, to some degree supporting Demirtaş’s claim.

This situation puts a fragile peace process in question. For the past three years, the AK-Party had been making moves towards peace, negotiating with the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and conceding to some aspects on language rights and regional autonomy desired by many Kurds in Turkey’s southeast region, often called Kurdistan. More recently, however, President Erdoğan, who is nominally unaffiliated with a party but still overtly acts as the head of the AK-Party, reversed his stance on the so-called “Kurdish opening” simultaneous with the celebration of Newroz, the spring holiday most closely identified with Kurds. This was interpreted by many as Erdoğan’s move to coax nationalist voters, known for their anti-Kurdish stance, in the run-up to the 2015 parliamentary elections. Numerous polls show the AK-Party losing ground and the HDP moving towards the 10% threshold necessary to enter parliament as a party, and this likely has Erdoğan very worried. Up until now, HDP members have been running as independent candidates since they were not likely to pass the 10% threshold, but this situation greatly decreases their representation in parliament while simultaneously increasing that of the AK-Party. So the political calculation in Turkey currently hinges on the fate of the HDP, and the AK-Party has every incentive to prevent their passing the threshold.

Given these circumstances, the timing of the Ağrı conflict is interesting, because it is likely to damage the HDP’s political image and improve that of the AK-Party. The TSK’s statement, however, might change this calculus.

Potentially linked to these events is the Istanbul Film Festival’s choice, under direct pressure from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Cinema Directorate, to cancel the screening of a documentary filmed in the PKK camps. Bakur (North) was scheduled to be shown on 12 April but, hours before the screening, the IFF announced its cancellation. Numerous Turkish filmmakers involved in the festival held an impromptu meeting after this and decided to withdraw their films from the festival, calling into question whether key competitions will continue. Specifically, 7 out of 9 films in the national feature and 9 our of 13 films in the national documentary competitions signed a statement withdrawing their films.

2 – Media wars – Pre-election tensions are also playing out in mainstream media as pro-government media sources have made a number of moves to attack non-aligned media. Perhaps most notably, state run (and theoretically impartial) broadcaster TRT has refused to run commercials for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), giving as rationale the fact that the commercials criticize the ruling government. At the same time, pro-AK-Party media outlets Yeni Şafak and ATV have both published claims against the Doğan Media Group, charging it with support of terrorism in line with similar statements by Erdoğan. Doğan has filed slander charges against Yeni Şafak in response. Yeni Şafak also filed a story claiming that Turkey’s second President, Ismet İnönü, was responsible for having Mustafal Kemal Atatürk killed with poison. These claims and their alleged documentation have been the source of ridicule in other media, and columnist Mustafa Akyol commented on why such claims would come out now.

3 – Social media bans and reactions – Reactions to last week’s government ban of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have begun to mount. Early in the week there was a threat to block Google as well, but this has not yet been executed, and the social media sites are now back online. These bans have not gone unanswered, as Today’s Zaman reports:

Two Turkish academics on Tuesday appealed a court order that allowed authorities to block access to Twitter and YouTube for several hours this week, a crackdown they say reflects Ankara’s growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, Hürriyet Daily News reports on international critique of the ban:

Bans on social media networks are “not appropriate” according to basic democratic standards, said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who held meetings with a number of senior officials in Turkey, adding that he expected “meaningful answers” from Ankara on the issue.

Despite such reactions, threats against social media may actually be on the rise, as Today’s Zaman reports:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a tendency to put everything he sees as a threat against his authority in the country’s “National Security Strategy Concept Paper” (MGSB) — often referred to as the “Red Book” — may soon be adding social media platforms, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday.

4 – Censorship, trials, and lawsuits – The weekly round-up of lawsuits and trials for those deemed to have insulted the AK-Party continues, as Hürriyet Daily News reports,

A local court in Ankara has ordered main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to pay 10,000 Turkish Liras in compensation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for “insulting” him.

Erdoğan was not alone in his actions this week, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has filed a new legal complaint against Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş over a blog post, saying the piece, an English version of which was published as a Today’s Zaman column, insulted him.

Some of the charges are more serious than insults against individuals, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Turkish prosecutors seek up to four and a half years in prison for two columnists, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, who write for the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily, over featuring a front cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine which depicted Prophet Muhammad in their pieces.

5 – AK-Party’s Neo-Ottoman overtures – Finally, the AK-Party continues to employ Ottoman pageantry in political appearances. As Hürriyet Daily News notes, this week’s ceremonies involved both PM Davutoğlu,

Continuing the new trend of cosplay started at Turkey’s new presidential palace where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resides, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan were welcomed by policemen dressed in Ottoman-era costumes on April 10 in Ankara.

and President Erdoğan,

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was welcomed during a ceremony on April 10 with the “New Turkey Anthem” performed by an Ottoman military band, which praised him as “Our Leader.”

Though quite visible, such overtures are not necessarily a way to success with the public, as the same paper noted in covering the fate of a number of “candidates for candidacy” who had vied for position on the AK-Party candidate list, which was decided this week:

Several candidates had launched Ottoman-themed campaigns to be nominated for the AKP. However, none of the “Ottomans” were able to break the glass ceiling of modern politics when the ruling party announced its candidates for the June 7 general elections on April 7.

Advertisements

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-04-06

1 – 31 March and aftermath – Two members of the far-left group DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front) took prosecutor Mehmet Kıraz hostage, issuing a series of demands related to the Berkin Elvan case that Kıraz was investigating. (Elvan was the 14-year-old boy who was shot in the face with a gas canister by an as yet unidentified police officer during the Gezi Park protests and who died in a coma 9 months later.) After 6 hours of negotiations, a confrontation took place and both DHKP/C members and Kıraz were killed. During and after the crisis the Turkish government issued a media blackout regarding reporting on it. Though both pro-government and non-government-aligned outlets (the later coming from a variety of ideological perspectives but distinguished by the fact that they sometimes criticize the government) had carried images of the hostage crisis, the following day many of the non-aligned media were banned from attending Kıraz’s funeral and subsequently had charges filed against them for “propagandizing on behalf of a terrorist organization.” Some of these media organizations, including the Doğan Group, the country’s largest, have objected to the ban and charges, though Doğan also took the unusual step of engaging in self-criticism, an action that has been critiqued by some. This ban on images of the crisis even extended to some degree to foreigners, as an Egyptian-British blogger had a tweet regarding the incident blocked based on the ruling of a Turkish court. In the days to follow it came out that the hostage takers did have family ties to the DHKP/C and that Kıraz had been actively investigating the Elvan case, perhaps even moving towards finding the police officer(s) involved.

On the same day, the entire country suffered a massive blackout that has yet to be fully explained, though some hypotheses have been put forth. Twitter user Fuat Avni has received attention for tweets suggesting that the blackout was a trial run for a series of similar blackouts that will take place during the 7 June election, as well as tweets from January, noting that Turkey’s intelligence agency (MIT) had infiltrated DHKP/C and planned to reactive the group.

On 1 April, two assailants attacked a police station in Istanbul and one was killed while, elsewhere in the city, an armed man broke into the AK-Party headquarters and hung a modified Turkish flag. Both President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Davutoğlu have attempted to turn the series of incidents to political advantage, Erdoğan noting that Turkey needs to build 3 rather than 2 nuclear power plants and saying that the police, who have recently been granted unprecedented powers, should take over for private security firms, and Davutoğlu promising that no unauthorized street protests would be permitted and also suggesting that the DHKP/C attack could be linked to foreign powers.

And, on April 6th, Turkey blocked access country-wide to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to prevent the hostage photos, as reported by Hürriyet Daily News:

Turkish authorities have blocked access to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook over the publication of photos published on the three social media platforms showing a prosecutor who was taken hostage by militants in Istanbul last week. Tayfun Acarer, the head of the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK), told daily Hürriyet that the ban on Facebook had been lifted after it rapidly complied with the court ruling.

Penguen kapak - 2015-04-022 – Erdoğan insults roundup – Turkey has charted new territory in the crackdown on social media by giving a journalist a suspended prison sentence for “liking” an anti-Erdoğan post on Facebook.

Radikal reports that a trial has been opened against ÖDP Tokat Regional Authority Önder Konuk, who was taken into custody because he called Erdoğan “lan” (something close to “dude”) in an angry tweet after the death of Özgecan Aslan. His tweet, which was only visible to friends, translates to, “Why don’t you declare a time of mourning dude!” He explained the tweet by saying he was angry to see Turkey declare a day of mourning for the death of the Saudi King, but not for Aslan. He may face up to 7 years in prison. Konuk is just one among many who have been charged for angry Tweets regarding Erdoğan’s actions in the wake of Aslan’s death.

The latest cover of the satirical cartoon magazine Penguen references the recent prison sentence against two of its cartoonists for insulting Erdoğan, and notes “we will continue to draw.”

Finally, as Today’s Zaman reports:

A 17-year-old high school student in the province of Konya is set to appear before a court in June and will face between one and four years of prison after he was charged with insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ; the boy is reportedly a friend of a 16- year-old who was recently arrested on the same charge.

3 – Hürriyet Daily News and Today’s Zaman both issued reports on a “Twitter battle” that took place between AK-Party supporters and Gülen supporters in recent days. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

Thousands of social media users who either supported or opposed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) engaged in a “spamming” war, which started April 3 and continued for at least two days, leading Twitter to suspend the accounts of many users who had hundreds of thousands of followers.

4 – The Kabataş Gezi Park story may get less press in the future, as Hürriyet Daily News notes:

A Turkish court banned accesss to stories ran by eight websites on Zehra Develioğlu , a headscarved woman who claimed in June 2013 that she and her baby were the victims of an assault by a group of people in the Kabataş district of Istanbul during the Gezi Park protests, upon a request by the woman.

In related news, the journalist who “broke” the original story, Elif Çakır, had her Twitter account hacked, with the hacker admitting to wrongdoing on her behalf.

5 – On a lighter note, as Hürriyet Daily News reports,

Hollywood star Julianne Moore may have won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar, but Turkish officials have rejected a bid to make her Turkey’s tourism face by citing her “poor acting.” The Culture and Tourism Ministry disapproved of the acclaimed actress’ performance in a film promoting tourism in Turkey and demanded a reshoot. However, Moore declined the ministry’s offer, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the project, daily Hürriyet has learned.

The story also received satirical commentary in The Onion.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-03-02

1 – Hürriyet Daily News (and Radikal)

Weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “16 Turkish warriors” hit international headlines, several candidates have launched Ottoman-themed campaigns to be nominated for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

2 – Today’s Zaman

US-based watchdog Freedom House has criticized Turkey’s controversial security package, which grants extensive powers to police officers and provincial governors, saying that the passing of the bill in Parliament is a move to undermine democracy in Turkey. Freedom House, which describes itself as “an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world,” responded to the passage of the first 10 articles, issuing a statement late Monday. The director of Freedom House’s Eurasia programs, Susan Corke, said, “It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Turkish democracy hangs in the balance with this law.”

3 – Hürriyet Daily News

Model and former Miss Turkey Merve Büyüksaraç is facing up to two years in prison for social media posts that prosecutors claim “insult” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The indictment has been completed as a part of an investigation into Büyüksaraç’s post, in which the prosecutor Umut Tepe demanded that she be sentenced to one to two years in prison. The Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul will now decide whether to initiate proceedings. Büyüksaraç, an industrial designer and writer who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, was briefly detained and questioned on Jan. 14 for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account.

4 – Today’s Zaman

Auditors from the Finance Ministry carried out a raid at the Gezici Research Company’s office in Istanbul following a poll the company released showing votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) decreasing below 40 percent. According to the Cihan news agency, auditors went to the Gezici office in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district to examine the company’s tax documents on Tuesday morning. The auditors checked up on details regarding the company’s address, number of employees and the administrative structure of the company, then left the office after taking notes.

5 – Gerçek Gündem – Fidel Okan, who once served as lawyer for Star Gazetesi journalist Elif Çakır, gives his version of how the Kabataş story became so exaggerated. Cakır has faced renewed criticism for promoting a story during the Gezi Park protests of 2013 that Zehra Develioğlu, who wears a headscarf, was attacked by a group of protestors. Then Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdoğan, picked up on the story and repeated it frequently to demonize the protestors, but there is little evidence that the event actually took place. According to Okan, some protestors exchanged words with the woman and she was upset by this, as well as by the fact that her husband was late to pick her up. She exaggerated her account when he finally arrived to get her and he, in turn, exaggerated it when recounting it to his father, who happened to be an AKP-affiliated leader of a local municipality. This official, in turn, exaggerated the story once again and it was increasingly exaggerated as it moved up the AKP chain of command, to the point that it became a group of 70, half-naked, leather-clad assailants who overturned a baby stroller and urinated on the woman. Okan says that Erdoğan probably believed the story the whole time.