Censoring the hero
Turkish government’s practice of censoring the Internet and the social media channels is not new. Starting from 2011, the AKP government has increased restrictions on freedom of the press and Internet use in Turkey. Media censorship became particularly prominent in 2013 when the Gezi protests spread to all around Turkey. To stop the protests, the AKP government not only increased pressure on mass media outlets but also blocked several social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube.
The AKP government intensified its crackdown on media since the July 15coup attempt. Since the coup attempt, the AKP government has ordered the closure of many media outlets including 45 newspapers, 16 TV channels, and 23 radio stations but the AKP government did not stop there and restricted access to social media websites and other Internet sites as well. For example, according to Internet monitoring company the TurkeyBlocks the Turkish government shutdown many websites. The monitoring company also detected that the AKP government is using a technique called “network throttling” to slow down any website they want.
The AKP government’s censorship practices have a long history. Especially during the last years, the AKP government banned many websites on the Internet. Usually, these bans were sudden and reactionary. For example, lately, the AKP government censored an article in EksiSozluk website. The article was talking about Omer Halisdemir. Halisdemir was one of the heroes of the July 15 coup attempt. He shot and killed one of the ranked military personals who was leading the July 15 coup. Thus, Omer Halisdemir became the symbol of the Turkish nation’s uprising against the July 15 coup. However, the article about Omer Halisdemir on EksiSozluk website was removed by the court order. The removed article states that Omer Halisdemir’s family supports CHP (Republican People’s Party), CHP is the main opposition party in Turkey and also CHP is known by its secular views, and his family denied all the benefists offered by the AKP government.
While the AKP government and president Erdogan continues censorship practices, ironically, Erdogan had to turn to social media when the coup unfolded. He also used FaceTime application to address his people during the July 15 coup attempt.
Mustafa Öz, Texas