Turkish court order blocks access to over 130 websites including “Bianet”

This statement was originally published on bianet.org on 6 August 2019.

The Ankara 3rd Penal Judgeship of Peace has ruled that access to 136 web addresses shall be blocked upon a request by the Gendarmerie General Command. Both the request and the verdict are dated July 16, 2019.

In addition to the news portals, pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube were blocked. One of the websites that is included in the list is bianet.org.

The court neither informed bianet of the access block nor gave a justification for it. With this verdict, more than 200 thousand articles on bianet which has been running since 1998 will become inaccessible.

Bianet, affiliated to the IPS Communication Foundation, is not only a news portal. It holds journalism workshops with a stress on peace journalism in order for rights-based reporting to become widespread. It documents violations of freedom of expression and violence against women with the Media Monitoring Reports and the Male Violence Monitoring Reports.

The verdict

“… The notice no. 3096743 dated July 16, 2019, sent by the Ministry of Interior General Command of Gendarmerie requested access to the mentioned URL addresses be blocked on the ground that they constitute the offenses in Article 8/A of the Law No. 5651.

“With the petition and its attachment being examined, it has been concluded that regarding the contents published on the URL addresses mentioned above, a ruling blocking access or the removal of relevant content from the internet can be made by the presiding judge upon a request by the Presidency regarding one or more of the reasons of protecting the safety of life and property, protecting national security and the public order, preventing crimes and protecting public health upon Paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the Law. no 5651 and upon a request by relevant ministries, regarding protecting national security and public order, preventing crime or protecting public health. The presiding judge passing down this verdict shall immediately notify access providers and relevant content and domain providers. The rulings for removal of content and/or blocking access are to be implemented within four hours after the verdict is announced.

“It was required to make the following ruling regarding the approval of the request: …”

Click for the full text of the ruling (Turkish)

Attorney: Previously, only reports facing complaints were blocked

Meriç Eyüboğlu, the attorney of bianet who filed an objection against the verdict, has said, “Previously, there were verdicts issued blocking access to articles on bianet. We filed an appeal against all of these decisions, we brought them to the Constitutional court.

“In both of our two applications, the Constitutional court concluded that the verdicts [wishing to impose] censorship violated freedom of expression. Our other applications are still at the court.

“However, under the previous decisions regarding blocking access, access to the news report that was the subject of the application (complaint) was blocked.

“But now, the judge concerned gave a verdict to block access not just to the report but to the entire website. Moreover, the judge did not need to base this verdict of censorship on any justification.”

Relation to the Gezi Trial

Eyüboğlu said that they were not able to receive concrete information after their application to the court either and added that the ruling was made on July 16, two days before the Gezi trial.

“Among the addresses that were blocked, were accounts that posted regularly during the Gezi hearing (some of these do not share anything other than the Gezi hearings) – this made us think that the notice (!) by the Gendarmerie General Command is related to the Gezi trial.

“The fact that we are trying to learn about, understand and explain such a major verdict resulting in censorship through guesses and assumptions is a clear indicator of how legal (!) is the action that we are facing.

“Moreover, these verdicts are not even issued to those concerned. We incidentally became informed of the verdict. Like the dozens of other addresses that are included in the verdict, bianet would also be dimmed without our knowledge.”

“A legal scandal”

“Now, we are waiting, without knowing when will this decision be implemented. According to the court, it is to be implemented ‘in order’.

“A news portal that includes at least 200 thousand articles is being shut down without the need for any other inquiry. Those who made this ruling do not even state a justification.

“How can this situation be named? To put it mildly, it is a legal scandal. It is a massive attack against freedom of expression and freedom of the press. It is a massive intervention… This ruling is a legal monstrosity.

“At this point, our wish is that the objection we made be evaluated immediately and that the ruling on blocking access be removed. Otherwise, bianet, together with its readers, will do what is necessary to take the verdict to the dumpsite of bad verdicts.”

Other websites included in the verdict

Along with bianet, 15 other websites are mentioned in the ruling: Etha, Halkın Sesi TV, Özgür Gelecek, osp.org, geziyisavunuyoruz.org, Gazete Fersude, Yeni Demokratik Gençlik, Umut Gazetesi, Kızıl Bayrak, Marksist Teori, Direnişteyiz, Mücadele Birliği and Antakya Sokak.

The Twitter account of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Oya Ersoy is also included in the list. The total number of URLs in the list that also includes accounts on Facebook and Instagram is 136.

The post Turkish court order blocks access to over 130 websites including “Bianet” appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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