OSCE media freedom representative calls for immediate lifting of Twitter ban in Turkey
VIENNA, 21 March 2014 – Blocking Twitter and threatening to close social media websites only adds to the many concerns about media freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today.
On 20 March some users trying to open the Twitter website were redirected to the website of Turkey's telecommunications regulator which cited court orders to apply "protection measures" to the Twitter website.
"Websites have been severely restricted by the authorities for many years in Turkey," the Representative said, referring to the prohibitive Internet Law adopted in 2007 and further restricted last month. "These measures are devastating to free expression and freedom of the media and they curb citizens' right to freely express themselves."
The telecommunications regulator (TIB) posted three court rulings and one prosecutorial decision on its website as the basis for blocking Twitter.
"The government should protect and encourage pluralistic discourse both offline and online, instead of stifling it," Mijatović said. "I call upon the authorities to vacate the court decisions that allow blocking Twitter and restore free public discourse online.”
"Turkish authorities must realize that banning websites, and blaming social media for tensions in the society will only lead to the weakening of freedom of expression, an indispensable element of democracies. While technology will always find ways to circumvent such bans, in the short run such prohibitory approach from the highest authorities threatens free flow of information and citizens' fundamental right to freely express themselves," she said.
There are approximately ten million Twitter users in Turkey, 4 million of whom follow Prime Minister Erdoğan on the social media site.
Mijatović has been calling for the fundamental reform of laws that allow for the silencing of critical voices in Turkey, among them the Internet Law, also known as Law No 5651.
Earlier related statements by the Representative can be accessed at www.osce.org/fom.