1 – Insults to Erdoğan weekly roundup – a now regular feature of the Turkish news-scape is the count of how many journalists, cartoonists, students, activists or others are currently being tried, fined, or jailed for various forms of insult to President Erdoğan. Examples this week include …
Today’s Zaman regarding a student in Izmir:
A 21-year-old university student is facing the prospect of up to four-and-a-half years in prison for posts on Twitter that are alleged to have insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he was prime minister.
Two Turkish cartoonists face up to two years in jail on charges of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over a satirical piece on free speech in which they allegedly included a hidden offensive gesture. Bahadır Baruter and Özer Aydoğan, cartoonists for the popular satirical weekly Penguen, have been sued by Erdoğan for the Aug. 21, 2014 cover of the magazine. In the picture, Erdoğan is seen asking whether officials at the new presidential palace in Ankara have prepared “any journalists to slaughter,” referring to ritual sacrifice in Islam.
Hürriyet Daily News on the sentencing of a journalist in Adana and on the investigation of others in the same city:
A journalist in southern Turkey has been sentenced to a five-month suspended prison sentence, while the houses of two more journalists from the same city have been raided by police, all for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on their social media accounts. Mine Bekiroğlu, a 28-year-old local journalist from Adana, was sentenced to a five-month prison sentence by Adana 6th Criminal Court of First Instance on March 19, Doğan News Agency reported.
2 – Today’s Zaman reports on the YSK (Supreme election board) banning an AK-Party Nevruz/Nerwoz ad:
Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has banned a television ad prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the Nevruz festival because of the use of the Turkish flag and religious symbols, a news report said on Sunday. The three-minute ad was released last week to mark the Nevruz festival — a now officially recognized holiday widely celebrated in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey — to send a message of unity amid efforts as part of a settlement process to resolve the decades-old Kurdish issue through talks.
The AK-Party is clearly aware that such use of symbols is illegal, as they had an ad banned for similar reasons almost exactly one year ago, in the run-up to the March 2014 municipal elections. More about that ad and its zombie-like imagery can be found at endtimescafe.
3 – Ileri Haber and T24 report that he Beyoğlu Zabita raided a screening of the 13th annual Filmmor Women’s Film Festival taking place in the Rampa Kafe, saying that the cafe didn’t have a license for screening. Festival coordinator Melek Özman noted that the festival had received all the necessary permissions from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The filmgoers resisted the police for about an hour, until organizers told the police they had called officials in the municipality and parliament, at which point the police finally relented.
Parliament has approved a key article of the contentious omnibus bill which gives power to the prime minister and other ministers to shut down websites within four hours, just six months after a similar bill was overturned by the Constitutional Court. Parliament approved 13 more articles of the omnibus bill late March 12. A key article stipulates that ministers will have the power to order the removal or blocking of an online publication for “defending the right to live, securing property, ensuring national security and public order, preventing crime or protecting public health.” The Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) could enforce the request of the ministry, as a blanket ban of the website if deemed necessary, within a maximum of four hours.
The same paper also prints an interview with scholar Aslı Tunç on the importance of social media in Turkey and the government’s strong efforts to curtail it.
5 – Censorship round-up – Hürriyet Daily News reports on members of the US Senate pressuring Secretary of State John Kerry to act on press freedom in Turkey; Today’s Zaman details a new report by Transparency International that says 86 percent of journalists in Turkey believe self-censorship is common; and columnist Melis Alphan notes the long history of censorship in cinema and art related to Kurdish identity.Follow @mediascrnturkey