Oct 312014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Activists and young intellectuals from across Europe came from all directions and gathered in the heart of Europe, at a centuries-old castle near Berlin, Schloss Wartin, for the #FixEurope Autumn Campus. European Alternatives, who organized the meeting, set up the agenda to discuss problems that Europe faces and find possible “solutions” that might bring about a better future for all of us. We shared, we learned, we explored, and most importantly, we discussed all kinds of issues that Europe is facing today.

Dozens of people gathered around a table of vegetarian grill raised their glasses to a better future in the hopes of a more complete Europe. People seemed eager to discuss matters that they think are vital for the future of the continent, and suddenly it seemed to become much easier to solve any problem the old continent might have. Once the path to discussion and dialogue is open, rational people should be able to find a way to overcome whatever problems are affecting the whole area and be able to give an answer to those who claim that there can never be an answer.

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When participants were asked to simply note down the things they think need fixing in Europe, the list just went on and on. The list was getting almost as long as the history of the castle. Yet in fact this should not discourage any Europhile. It is merely an opportunity to see what happens when there is a very unilateral understanding of integration and of the European unification plan.

Our delightful host’s food was served in the main hall, and as we waited impatiently while enjoying tunes from the piano, one wondered at how many new ideas were popping up in everyone’s head at that moment. Every single minute was inspirational among this group of creative and impressive people in a calm and quiet atmosphere, without an Internet connection. Ideas actually got jotted down and new ones spread around on the tables – faster than the circulation of the food, I must say.

Issues that are swept from attention, things that people perhaps had not paid enough attention to previously, were brought up on the agenda. For once we could spare all the time in the world for a few days, as there was no WiFi zone to bring us the distraction of the “unread 666 messages.” Glasses and bottles clinked, new ideas kept popping up right in the middle of the sounds of nature. Much-needed peace and tranquility surrounded the activists. In the darkness and cold of the night, old projects were talked of, bringing about new project proposals.

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The premiere of the Transeuropa Caravan took place at the castle with the participation of all the activists on the campus. There’s no need to add that it was inspirational, revealing certain local problems that parts of Europe experience and that most other parts would not even hear of were it not for such initiatives for bringing Europe closer to all its citizens.

We had gathered in Berlin with one major aim: to target and tackle problems that affect Europe in general. We left Schloss Wartin with thousands of new ideas and a great deal of inspiration and motivation to get to work. The end of the Campus was a joyful ride back to the Berlin city center, where we had the chance to attend a conference at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, which opened with a keynote speech by Saskia Sassen. She talked about all the crisis moments that we can see very clearly all around us, especially the housing bubble and gentrification tactics in most major cities. Sustainability has become one of the primary topics for us all.

After all the talks and discussions, we the activists of European Alternatives at the #FixEurope Campus meeting, can agree with the slogans of the streets “this is still the beginning…”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 202014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Draconian Internet laws in Turkey are deepening yet once again with a new reform package that will bring new measures against freedom of speech in the country. Previously, the government had already tried to silence the masses through censorship measures, surveillance of Netizens, blocking access to Web sites, or even raids on online news portals’ headquarters. The most recent development concerning the laws against online free speech is the most recent bill that provides for up to five years’ imprisonment for tweeps (Twitter users) who criticize the government online.

The signatories of the infamous censorship law – or as the official name refers to it, “5651: Regulation on the Publications on the Internet” – have drafted a new bill and presented it on the parliament floor on the evening of October 14th. The new bill will allow all the possible suspects that have so far been declared “traitors, enemies, coup-plotters” to be put under full surveillance with just an order from a judge. The requirement of “tangible evidence” that has been required by the courts so far is no longer on the books, which allows the judges to give the order upon “reasonable doubt.” The new law also allows the property of the government-critical suspects to be confiscated, if the accusation is “criminal activity” or “organizing a gang.”

What is “criminal”?

What comprises criminal activity in Turkey has long been a problematic issue and the new bill is no different from any previous one. The main excuse in suppressing free speech in the country so far has been “national-security concerns.” Crimes against the state include plans to end the unity and integrity of the state, cooperation with enemies, propagating war against the state, actions against the basic national benefits, conscripting soldiers for a foreign nation, harming military premises and agreements in favor of foreign soldiers, and economical and financial contributions to enemies.

If one is only a little obsessive, any attempt to strengthen the regional governments and the Europeanization process, which requires that, can in fact be declared a crime against the state. And the witch hunt trials that have been going after hundreds of military officers over the years would definitely be a type of harm against the military.

Less urgent crimes that have been cited in the bill include violation of the constitution, crimes against the legislative body, armed uprising against the government, and assembling and organizing for these crimes. Even though armament had been previously mentioned as a crime in another law, this time the new bill seems to reflect more onto the protection of government against all types of possible criticism. And of course the government would be exempt from the crime of violating the constitution when citizens’ basic rights and liberties are being violated, even though those rights are guaranteed under the constitution.

Social media targeted

“Threat” as a crime is considered to be a much greater fault with the new law and will be punishable by a prison sentence. The new bill suggests that the citizens who criticize government harshly on social-media platforms are included within the scope of threat crimes. Under the current laws, threats bring about imprisonment only for crimes that result in two years and more of prison sentence. For that reason, the government has updated the prison sentence to two years minimum. The new bill also includes clauses that state that those who criticize the president, prime minister, ministers, or security forces openly or over social media will be considered guilty of “threats” and face possible arrest. The new bill also targets the prosecutor who conducted the graft probe of 17-25 December last year that revealed the greatest corruption scandal in Turkey’s history.

Not only the Internet but also the streets…

The new bill’s scope is not limited to digital public spaces but also makes opposition movements’ visibility on the streets problematic. The slogans that have been adopted by critical groups during street protests had already drawn many frowning faces so far; with the new bill they will be considered a crime. The new law also breaches the diplomatic immunity of politicians, allowing them to be put on trial as well in case of threats against public officers, soldiers, police, governors etc. The prison sentence will possibly go up to 5 years depending on the intensity of the “criminal activity.”

No right to defense

Moreover, the new bill also attacks the right to a fair hearing and the principle of defense. Lawyers will have harder time accessing their clients’ files in order to defend them fairly. The bill states that lawyers’ involvement in disclosing defendants’ files would breach the investigation and thus should be limited on a judge’s orders.

Reversal of improvement

The draft bill will be reversing the improvements that have been achieved in the last year with regards to legal procedure, and the few positive remarks in the European Union accession progress report are being met with counter-developments that will present a much graver situation in the coming period. Combined with the intentions to arm the police forces with greater authority to “shoot to kill” in times of protests and plans to multiply the number of water cannons five/tenfold as the Prime Minister has stated, the new bill is just another obstacle created against any kind of free speech, right to assembly, right to access information and many other rights and liberties. It seems and feels like the road to illiberal democracy – if it is democracy at all – is being traveled faster than expected.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 092014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Kobani in Syria’s Kurdish region has been resisting against ISIS for days, and in recent days the situation has been worsening due to ISIS advances. Civilians have been fleeing and taking refuge in Turkey; hundreds of thousands have been walking to the Turkish border, leaving everything behind. Across Turkey, there have been solidarity meetings with the participation of several political parties and civil society organizations. These rallies were being organized mainly by the Kurdish party HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). Rallies turned into protests and then turned violent. The result so far is a curfew declaration in six cities and – until this writing – 15 killed.

The “New Turkey”

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Before the August 10 presidential election when Turkey voted on her president for the first time in history, the promise made by  President Erdoğan was of “the New Turkey” where the peace process would finally start blooming and bearing fruit to bring a peaceful end to the “Kurdish Question.” Democratic rights would be granted and economic expansion would prevail. Looking at the first 50 days of the New Turkey, one would not really see anything really new, except for a few new methods in violation of rights and liberties.

Border lock-down

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When ISIS started its offensive against Kobani, people used their right to defend themselves and resist against a possibly massacre. Yet, many people had to flee from the region and run away from the marching IS gangs. In September, hundreds of thousands of people were mobilized. For over a week, Turkey did not allow the border to be crossed. Protests had started taking place back then. As there was no permission to let civilians in, there emerged protests in major metropolises and especially in the predominantly Kurdish cities. Finally on the 19th of September, Turkey opened the border to allow civilians fleeing from ISIS’s siege of Kobani to take refuge.

Permission to intervene

A week after the border was opened for controlled passes, there came the discussion to allow Turkish military to intervene in the situation, at which stage the street spirit changed form and turned into anti-war protests. On October 2nd, the Turkish parliament voted on the permission to allow Turkish soldiers to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. The HDP refused to vote Yes on the permission, alongside the Republican People’s Party CHP.

The irony in the permission is that currently the sides seem to have changed. When HDP organizes anti-ISIS protests and CHP silently seems to be approving of them, the Nationalist Movement Party MHP and ruling AKP have taken a stand against them, even though the latter two were the ones to approve military action by ground forces against ISIS gangs.

Night of Clashes

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The night of October 7 saw a long night of drifting back to the darkness of the 1980s and 1990s. Protests against ISIS started turning violent. There started emerging images and videos of cars and buildings being set on fire, Turkish flags being burned and Ataturk busts being torn down. However these images appearing simultaneously on the media makes one feel that events are being staged – even more given the knowledge of prior cases where the National Intelligence Agency MIT agents were caught throwing Molotov cocktails and provoking protests to turn them violent.

Yet the violent images might have served a purpose, as several nationalist and Islamist radical groups have taken to the streets and started shooting at the protesters; especially after a piece of fake news stating that “the protesters are burning the Quran in the streets.”

Until the shootings it was the police handling the situation badly, and when more sides started clashing, then came curfew declarations and the military started marching into city centers in several cities in the East. This was not officially a declaration of martial law, or even a state of emergency. Yet, when tanks are marching on the streets, it does not take much to guess what it is; one does not need someone’s definition of the situation.

When anti-ISIS protesters were clashing with police forces on streets, pro-ISIS groups also took to the streets and started assaulting the other side. According to initial reports, around 15 people have been killed. And a dangerous declaration has been put in place today, calling for retaliation on the Islamist organizations in Turkey. In the 1990s, Hezbollah in Turkey had been used against the PKK and thousands of people had died in shadowy clashes. This time it started fast and Kurdish groups have declared they will resist.

Turkish Minister of Interior Affairs Efkan Ala also evaluated the protests and the violent surge. Ala declared that any type of violence will be met with multiplied violence. Ala also used the same method against the Gezi Park protests in 2013 when he was an adviser to the Prime Minister on security issues – after which he was appointed minister without being elected into parliament.

Media Blackout

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Yet again, the Turkish media has surprised no one. While the clashes were taking place, and curfew was being declared in half a dozen cities and the number of deaths was climbing amid widespread protests and violent attacks by counter-protesters, Turkish TV channels were broadcasting entertainment shows, very much in line with the “penguin” patterns they have been carrying out during times of crises.

When there were protests in Egypt, the Turkish television channels were broadcasting live from across Egypt. When a coup took place, it was broadcast live in Turkey… The Turkish audience is allowed to watch all kinds of crisis situations and repression of rights live on TV – as long as it does not happen in Turkey.

If anything was shown at all, it portrayed all the protesters as “terrorists” who were targeting Turkish national unity and sovereignty. Yet the question was never raised as to why anyone who would demand the intervention of Turkish troops against ISIS be “attacking the Turkish nation.” And, second question, why do the police always manage to get hold of the people that shout slogans and fail to find the ones that carry out such attacks. The media are definitely being used for fueling the fire against Kobani-solidarity protests, serving as a tool of consent manufacturing. Given the number of Internet-literate people who critically get their news from social media, the media blackout seems to work in favor of the ones who are benefiting from the violence on Turkey’s streets.

Chaos Lobby

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As earlier the Turkish government explained everything by mentioning… “lobbies,” the most recent uprisings in Turkey have been blamed on a “Chaos Lobby”. All state officials and ministers who appear on TV put the blame on a shady, non-existent organization that they call the “chaos lobby,” probably an advanced version of the “interest-rate lobby,” “terror lobby,” “social media lobby,” “porn lobby,” “judiciary lobby,” “marginal lobby,” “parallel lobby,” and so on…

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 062014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Right after the graft probe against the AKP government started and phone conversations of alleged corruption of ministers and by then Prime Minister Erdoğan and their family members were leaked on the internet from unknown sources, the government drafted a censorship update on the already draconian Internet regulations law 5651. The update came as a shock when many people thought “they cannot possibly take this any further.” The updated version of the bill suggested that the telecommunications authority (TIB) would store all traffic data as to which websites a user browses and for how long, as well as the right to block access to a website in four hours after the complaint is filed, without a court order. The Constitutional Court of Turkey has ruled that this is unconstitutional and the law update is now cancelled, stripping the TIB and the secret service – the national intelligence agency (MIT) – of its unjust authority to carry out unlimited and unwarranted surveillance and censorship.

Ministers defend censorship and surveillance

Right after the Constitutional Court declared the censorship, surveillance, and profiling law is a violation of rights, government ministers came forward to cite the national security risks of not carrying out mass surveillance of citizens. Minister of Interior Efkan Ala reacted against the court decision stating that the government maintains a balance between security and freedom and has to keep in mind that national security is at stake, thus defending censorship and surveillance. Minister of Communications Lutfi Elvan also reacted to the Court’s decision, claiming that the bill as it was did not constitute censorship but seeks national security on the Internet, where cyber-crimes prevailed through digital publications. Minister Elvan also stated “European countries also keep personal data between 6 months and 2 years in a central location, and there is public guarantee that these data would not be used for purposes other than security and would not be shared with non-state organs.”

Protests worked

When the censorship and surveillance bill was first passed and was awaiting President Gül’s approval, there were campaigns against it and street protests were organized with the participation of dozens of thousands of people. Internetophiles declared that they do not recognize this censorship and called this the “death of the Internet.” Opposition parties also protested against this violation of free speech and the right to acquire information, and had applied to the Constitutional Court for the law’s cancellation. All the reactions seem to have worked well.

Illegal Eavesdropping on Ministers

Minister Elvan proposed that TIB is responsible for the wiretapping scandal that revealed the biggest governmental corruption in history. Even though the ministers use phone devices that are encrypted by the national intelligence agency and TIB would have to go through weeks/months of processing to break the encryption, it is TIB that took the hit in this leakage.

Not long after the scandal became public, the intention to dissolve TIB and give all its authority to MIT and to centralize all surveillance mechanisms was brought to the agenda. By then Prime Minister, Erdoğan had said “MIT is already responsible for such actions as we give to TIB; why have two bodies doing the same thing?” and paved the way for the creation of a digital Gestapo in the country.

Currently, TIB is keeping track of all telecommunications data in the country, without the possibility of deletion of cached information. So, all the calling and messaging data between all users in Turkey are available; or to put it better was available until TIB got raided and servers were confiscated for investigation by MIT.

I am increasingly against the Internet every day”

The Internet is still seen as a destructive device by Turkish authorities. Previously it was a  “waste of time” and then social media was declared a “menace to society”… Now, President Erdoğan has a new statement that brought many reactions from the Internetophiles; “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.” In many occasions he has stated his concern over use of freedoms, although it is usually the freedom of his opponents that he is concerned about. As long as all critical and opposition voices are under extreme pressure in Turkey, there would not be any concern over freedoms and liberties. Perhaps this has some kind of connection with First Lady Emine Erdoğan’s speech at Anti-Addiction Week, claiming that the Internet is as dangerous as drug abuse.

The low understanding of freedoms and liberties continue to be the most obvious problem in Turkey, which according to government supporters is doing a great job suppressing critical voices for the sake of economic development and the triumph of “national will” over citizens.

As might be remembered, in recent days critical news portals have been raided by police and were asked to remove articles criticizing the government, or else have access to them blocked. At a meeting with a joint delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute, President Erdoğan said “Media should never have been given the liberty to insult” regarding the journalists’ approach to developments in Turkey.

Journalists should resist!

Chairperson of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç is partly responsible for the cancellation of the censorship and surveillance law. He was also one of the people who met the IPI and CPJ delegations, and said “There is an atmosphere of fear at the moment. The journalists must resist against it and not give in. Currently what worries me most is the hate and revenge atmosphere prevailing in the country; the political institutions are responsible for this. This will change with the calming of tensions. There needs to be struggle in basic rights and liberties, thus journalists need to resist as well.”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 042014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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After the Gezi Park protests hundreds of journalists lost their jobs, and dozens of media portals bowed down to authority and gave in. There were a few courageous journalists who tried to stand up straight and carry out their duty towards the public at large. Many of them were subjected to physical attacks, lynching campaigns, digital lynching, and reputation-assassination attempts. Yesterday marked a new low in AKP’s approach to press freedom in Turkey. The newspaper that was established by the journalists fired right after Gezi Protests, Karsi (“The Opposed”), was raided by policemen.

According to the chief editor of Karsi, the police did not present any court order or mandate to raid the building or seize servers. Police arbitrarily raided the building and shouted to remove news pieces regarding the corruption probe that was leaked to the public eye in Turkey between 17-25 December 2013. There was no involvement of courts in this illegal request. The editors demanded the raid be stopped but the answer was loud and clear: “Unless critical news pieces are removed, the whole news portal will be blocked!”

And today, unsurprisingly, access to Karsi’s news portal online was blocked… The portal continues to use a proxy news portal for “uncensored news” (sansursuz haber) until it also gets subjected to same treatment.

Another non-surprise of the day is that the newly established “Grey Line” (Gri Hat) news portal has also been taken to court and access blocking declared, for its potential to distribute critical news material about corruption records. Gri Hat was established not more than a month ago by unemployed/fired journalists and it was going to leak more news pieces regarding all kinds of corruption.

Turkey still scores terribly low in terms of press freedom with dozens of journalists imprisoned (the highest number in the world) and reporters being targeted on a daily basis, designated as targets by government officials, subjected to physical attacks and all-too-familiar censorship. When combined with censorship attempts on the Internet, books, movies and all other news platforms, it is not hard to see the trend’s direction and momentum in the coming days. If alternative/opposed news portals continue getting raided or subjected to threats and give in to such pressure, the future of democracy hangs on spikes in Turkey.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 022014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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A documentary film called “Until Globe Surface Becomes the Face of Love” tells the story of resistance against state repression during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013 in Turkey. The director, Reyan Tuvi, has worked on scenes recorded at ground zero in real-time protests and reflected on the multicultural atmosphere in Gezi Park during the uprising, telling the story of different characters who have contributed to the struggle for the sake of lifestyles that they dream of and to change their destiny.

Yet, when the film was brought before the primary jury and got approved as one of the 15 finalists, it was taken off the shortlist due to legal concerns. The explanation stated that the film violates Articles 125 and 299 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The quoted articles read as follows:

TPC 125:

1) Anyone who undermines the honour, dignity or respectability of another person or who attacks a person’s honour by attributing to them a concrete act or a fact, or by means of an insult shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months to two years, or punished with a judicial fine. In order to convict for an insult made in the absence of the victim, the act must have been witnessed by at least three persons.

(2) If the act is committed by means of a spoken, written or visual message addressing the victim, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to the penalties set out above.

(3) If the offence of insult is committed:

a) against a public official in connection with their duty;

b) in response to the expression of religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, in response to an individual’s changing or attempting to propagate their religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, or in response to an individual’s compliance with the requirements and prohibitions of their religion;

c) by reference to the holy values of a person’s religion, the penalty shall be not less than one year.

(4) (Amended by Law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) Where the offence of insult was committed in public, the penalty shall be increased by one sixth.

(5) (Amended by law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) In the case of insults to public officials in connection with their efforts working as a committee, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed against all committee members. In such a case, the provisions related to concatenated offences shall be applied.

TPC 299

(1) Anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a term of from one to four years.

(2) (Amended by Law 5377 dated 29 June 2005/Article 35) Where the offence is committed in public, the sentence shall be increased by one sixth.

(3) Initiation of a prosecution for this offence shall be subject to authorization by the Minister of Justice.

Members of the primary jury also read out a press statement telling the public at large that they consider this act of bringing the film under penal code investigation serves the purposes of censorship. When even the jury declares this kind of action as censorship, there is not much to be debated on the side of the state representatives.

The primary jury’s statement is as follows:

“As the jury of 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Competition for National Documentary, out of all the lists of films, we have selected 15 films for the finals and notified the festival management. We then came to learn that one of the films has been disqualified for the reason that it violates two clauses of the Turkish Penal Code, Articles 125 and 299, with its content.

We, the primary jury, consider this kind of an action – a film being disqualified from the shortlist due to its investigation through the Turkish Penal Code – as censorship. Even though we have shared with the festival management that this is unacceptable and requested that the situation be corrected, these concerns and request have been discarded. We thus declare here that we do not recognize such censorship and neither do we want to be part of it.”

Currently there are still hundreds of thousands of websites, books, films, and songs banned in Turkey. And this film about one of the most honorable periods of Turkish history is yet another brick in the wall of censorship. But still, just as we the “Internetophiles” had protested when the censorship bill was brought to the Parliament floor, the primary jury at this film festival also say they do not recognize the censorship.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Sep 162014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

2009 Protest against Internet Censorship Bill 5651 Revisions

2009 Protest against Internet Censorship Bill 5651 Revisions

Just days after Turkey hosted thousands of delegates from around the world for the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul and boasted about policing and pressuring Internet freedoms in the country, a law has been passed in urgency, almost like escaping from fire. The new law allows the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) – which consists mainly of former spies and about which there was talk of disbanding it to make it an office under the national secret service – to carry out surveillance operations and block access to Web sites without a court order. The law now includes the clauses that were rejected by President Gül when the last update was made in February 2014.

The bill came at a surprise moment when it was not being talked of in the media and was definitely not debated at all. Just days before it was passed at 4 a.m., there was criticism of Turkey’s approach to digital rights and liberties, and while activists were expecting a loosening of censorship, surveillance, and profiling activities by the government and secret service, it just happened to get even worse.

Concerns and worries were expressed by an anonymous EU diplomat based in Ankara, and the Turkish EU minister criticized him/her saying “this is not that person’s business.” The minister continued his remarks, saying “This is only in times of national security, not on a regular basis,” referring to the clause of the new bill that states that “this bill can be applied in matters related to national security, public order, and prevention of crimes” yet failed to address exactly what constitutes a breach of national security. One can remember the 2013 Gezi Uprising and how it was labeled a “coup attempt,” activists were declared “traitors,” and the millions who supported the uprising were called “terrorists.”

From Miners to Censorship

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Drafting of the reform package began upon the death of 302 miners in a terrible mining tragedy, due to lack of security precautions; yet the draft bill evolved to address censorship, surveillance, and profiling cases. President Erdoğan approved the bill on the 34th anniversary of the 1980  military coup, Friday September 12 – thus initiating a new level of obstacles to rights and liberties.

Raiding of the TIB

The TIB was raided last February and several top managers were replaced after some phone conversations were leaked on the Internet revealing the biggest corruption scandal in history involving the Turkish government. Now the new team will probably be using the “server-ville” facilities just nearby the capital city, where all telecommunications data are being stored. When combined with the plans to install the NetClean and Procera software throughout the country’s telecommunications backbone, this new bill allows the Turkish secret service to become nothing less than a digital Gestapo. It may be legal to carry out such actions in Turkey, but for sure it is not lawful.

Russian-Style Tight Control

Turkey now prepares for yet another stranglehold on digital rights and freedoms. In October there will be a new bill in the parliament which will address Internet and press publishers. The new law is much like the Russian bloggers’ bill, requiring all digitally published content creators to reveal their names, addresses, and contact details on the Web site, make all content available for at least a year without the possibility of deletion, and comply with already tightened media laws in the country. The new bill is set to mainly target citizen journalism platforms, including bloggers.

handcuffed-blogger

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Sep 152014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

On the 34th  anniversary of the September 12th,  1980 military coup, young liberal Turkish activists organized a protest rally against the retrogression in democratic values and democratization of the country. They got together in Taksim’s Galatasaray Square, wore their white T-shirts, on which were printed “No U Turn” signs, read out a press statement against the undemocratic implementation of laws in the country, and started their march. Unlike all protest rallies beforehand, they were walking backwards as a sign of the Turkish democracy going the same way.

Only a few steps behind them were located riot police and water cannon, aka TOMA, and the group had to divert their path in order not to run into them, but this seemed like another significant coincidence. Members of the “Democracy Watch” and “Law, Liberty, Tolerance” foundations and voluntary activists participated in the protest and recalled the initial steps taken against the coup legacy, back in 2010 during the Constitutional Reform referendum.

The Press Statement reads as follows:

“We have just observed yet another anniversary of the September 12th military coup which has had a significant role in our political and democratic lives and continues to be a bleeding wound. The system that has replaced the rule of law with law of the powerful, has installed a network of bans and prohibitions on individual and social liberties even after the 34 years. In the recent years, we have also observed quite a few positive steps in terms of our democracy and freedoms. One of them was the constitutional reform referenda on September 12th 2010. Even though we had imagined this referenda to be a beginning, it was forgotten before even the end of the year. The militaristic constitution of 1980 continues to be an obstacle in the face of civilian thinking and liberties. Universities continue to graduate uniform persons with the help of Higher Authority for Education. The legal institutions which are supposed to spread justice, get shaped with power-relations and interest struggles. The media which should be independent and unbiased revolve around interest relations. Our people and cities turn paler just like the democratic promises of the government. In Turkey, which has a ranking of 154 in press freedom, 90 in human development index and 88 in international democratic index, all these are announced as “New Turkey”. We the youth of Turkey who wish to see our liberties and democracy among the level of developed countries, refuse to act as three monkeys against all these going on. We do not approve of the backlash in democracy’s basic principles such as basic rights and freedoms, separation of powers. Yet, in order to protest against the backlash and backwardness we have been experiencing as a society and country, we will march backwards. We hereby set a note in history in terms of our values and principles by taking a step back, and continue to walk towards a much brighter future for Turkey.”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Sep 082014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Internet Governance Forum - Gürkan Özturan, Pirate Party Movement Turkey

Internet Governance Forum – Gürkan Özturan, Pirate Party Movement Turkey

Interview by Per Strömbäck, Editor Netopia:

Netopia met Gürkan Özturan, the Spokesperson International Communications, Pirate Party Movement Turkey, at the Internet Governance Forum in Istambul. Interview:

Netopia: How do you find the Internet Governance Forum?

It is a wonderful opportunity to get to meet other people who want to contribute to internet, except not all of them care about internet freedoms. But it’s good to be able to talk about possible basic (and minimum) regulation of the internet. Wonderful opportunity to be part of it, but of course as the Pirates we have our concerns such as censorship and surveillance lobby and their control intentions in disguise of security, and we also have worries about the organisation. It is important for Turkish activists to have an international audience to be able to meet like-minded people and know the global debate here. Living in a country where such state-spying in disguise of security unravels itself and falls down on citizens’ liberties like a dark cloud, I believe we have much to say about the problems with limiting the free internet. There is an ironic situation though, regarding censorship. Actually, the building we’re in right now is free from censorship, what we get here is not the standard Turkish access, but unfiltered. (Editor’s note: This was part of the arrangement with the United Nations when Turkey agreed to organise the IGF.) All kinds of communication is being intercepted in Turkey, like cell phone calls.

N: What are your concerns with the IGF?

One of them is regarding the famous wording of the event: “multi-stakeholder”. Simply multiplication of the stakeholders with a similar point of view does not help bringing us any closer to a free and at the same time secure internet. Many stakeholders would be better. It’s a play on words perhaps, but wording is important. (Laughs). Unfortunately we have seen many people with decision-making power, focusing on the profit side of internet, we have heard many governmental representatives speaking of internet as a sector. Even if we were to perceive internet as a sector, more state interference is not the answer to the well-being of that sector, let alone for the rights and liberties! It would have been better to see more NGO, civil society and activist network representatives and digital rights activists. Currently there is too much of government, ministers, bureaucrats in comparison. I would have liked to see more civil society engagement and contribution to the decision-making processes. I like what Jan Kleijssen from the Council of Europe said: “It’s not the internet that has to be regulated, it’s the behaviour of the governments concerning freedoms and liberties”. I see it as less government, more liberty.

N: Turkey has received international criticism for its lack of human rights protection: how does that relate to hosting the Internet Governance Forum?

It’s ironic that this conference is being held in Turkey, but the history of IGF in places like Bali and Baku, and next year’s venue being Brazil perhaps gives an idea regarding the selection. Perhaps the intention is to find countries that do not really want to allow liberties prevail in their societies. Or in a more optimistic approach, perhaps we can cease this as an opening window. This gives the local digital rights defenders and liberals to interact with international audience and make us get heard. Even if this opportunity might not present itself in the IGF venue, then there emerges Ungovernance Forums. We can see this as an opportunity for the more positive aspect that government can start improving on its approach to human rights and freedoms. It gives me hope about some positive outcomes. However at this IGF there is a lack of panels on censorship and surveillance in Turkey, but government officials repeatedly number-bombarding and stressing that they did not interfere with decision-making on topics in any way is not very convincing. If every single violation of human rights and liberties were to be defended with reference to irrelevant numbers, we would have to re-invent both mathematics and human reasoning.

N: What is the Ungovernance Forum?

It’s a separate event, based on digital rights and liberties, discussions on surveillance, spreading of information and knowledge. It will not be solely based on profit-making and turning the internet into an economic sector. And I believe it is important to have this forum simultaneously with IGF. Moreover, it is impressive to see the support for ungovernance forum. However, the people who really should hear the panels there are absent. But on the other hand, the same people are absent from the IGF panels on youth participation and the future of internet. It is only when they can suggest restrictive, illiberal measures that earns some people a lot of money, they are present at the forefronts. I also would like to mention my favourite quote here from Ben Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The interview of Gürkan Özturan is part of the series Voices from Istanbul published on Netopia Website. Read as well the interviews of Dr. Robert Pepper, Vice President Global Technology Policy, Cisco, speaking on behalf of ICC BASIS, and Sally Shipman Wentworth, Vice President Global Policy Development, Internet Society.

Jul 222014
 

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Corruption-translates-to-global-anger

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A not-so-secretive home-raiding operation was unleashed just days after the Gulenist movement’s newspapers started revealing statistics of the AKP government’s increasing trade with the Israeli government despite the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric that is prevalent in the AKP party. The operation is taking place only two hours after Erdogan appeared on a TV show saying, “It’s time for a cleaning now.” This sentence was the start of an operation that spread to 22 cities into the morning.

At 2:00 AM on July 22nd, Turkey experienced yet another “first time” in its history, and contrary to the permitted rules of home-raiding operations and arrests, hundreds of doors were knocked on in the middle of the night and arrests began. According to the penal code, house searches and arrests can only be made between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM. However, in exceptional cases when the operation is led by the Organized Crime and Terrorism Taskforce, home raids on high-level suspects can be carried out at unorthodox times.

At this very moment, hundreds of homes are being raided as this article is being written. Police officers and police chiefs are being arrested, including the ones who participated in the home-raiding operations and operations against the secret service officers who were also involved in the corruption probe investigation against the government ministers, prime minister, and their sons. Another group of police officers are allegedly the ones who uncovered secret Iranian cells operating in Turkey, especially Tawhid-i Salam (linked to Quds Forces/Jerusalem Army).

The charges against the police officers include espionage and forging legal documents that led to the corruption probe being prepared in the last two years. The same accusations had been made against Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) officers after another nighttime raid was carried out on May 31^st against TIB. After the December 17 and 25 corruption probe arrests of dozens of people related to government and business networks, Erdogan had said “we will raid their caves.”

The timing of the operation is also significant. The home raids are taking place just hours before Erdogan addresses the Parliament before it is dissolved for summer recess which, is the last time before presidential elections in August 2014. As the dawn breaks, the operation is spreading to other districts of Istanbul and several other cities. Government “Deepthroat” @fuatavni writes “psychological combat tools are being used to divert public perception right before the elections.” In social media, the operation has been likened to the“Night of the Long Knives” that happened 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/