Turkey Twitter trial

By Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International Turkey researcher

On Monday 21 April, I will be in a courtroom in Izmir, observing the second hearing in the ‘Twitter case’ against 29 men and women who are being accused of ‘inciting the public to break the law’. Their crime? Sending out tweets during the first few days of the Gezi Park protests last June. If found guilty, they could face up to 3 years in prison.

During the protests that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and Taksim Square and quickly spread around the country in June 2013, social media played a central role, allowing protestors to share information on where police were breaking up the protests or to request medical support or information on individuals whose whereabouts were unclear. With the mainstream media failing to report the events, social media platforms also allowed the public to find out what was going on in the streets.

The authorities and chiefly the Prime Minister responded by attacking the use of Twitter and other social media. The day after the Prime Minister famously called Twitter a ‘menace’, arrests were carried out in the western city of Izmir for tweeting about the protests. The PM is himself listed as a “victim” in the case. In the last month, both Twitter and YouTube have been blocked in Turkey. While the ban on Twitter has been lifted, the authorities continue to threaten its closure.

Following the arrests, in February, the trial of 29 young men and women began at a court in Izmir. The majority of the people on trial are students, aged between 19 and 36 They stand accused of ‘inciting the public to break the law’ for tweets they had sent supporting the protests, reporting police violence, or calling for medical aid. Some are accused of insulting the Prime Minister.

It is truly bizarre that 29 individuals should be brought to a court to defend their few handpicked tweets. None of the tweets contain incitement to or evidence of participation in violence’ or anything else that could be called criminal. They are simply sharing information and opinions – and it is their right to do so. In short, this case should never have been brought.

I will be tweeting the developments from the courtroom on Monday.

What can you do?
Show your solidarity with them through the much reviled Twitter!

Retweet one of the defendants’ tweets shown below, which is cited in the case sheet against one of the defendants.

Here is the English translation of @ozquner’s tweet:
We are resisting under the rain, come on Izmir to Gundogdu #resistizmir #resistgezipark #geziparkinizmir

Tweet at Turkey’s Prime Minister, letting him know what you think:
- .@RT_Erdogan Exchanging information on twitter is not a crime #dropthecharges #IzmirTwitterCase
- .@RT_Erdogan Asking for help on twitter in the face of police violence is not a crime #dropthecharges #IzmirTwitterCase
- .@RT_Erdogan Calling ppl out to peacefully demonstrate vs police violence isn’t incitement to break to law #IzmirTwitterCase #dropthecharges

Get updates from the courtroom as they happen on Monday by following Andrew Gardner on Twitter @andrewegardner

Related stories
Standing still is not a crime: 20 June 2013
Twitter is still blocked in Turkey, and battle lines over internet freedom are being drawn: 25 March 2014

Posted in Censorship and Free Speech, Internet and Social Media, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tagged | 12 Comments

  1. Chamaida Tabares says:

    It is absurd the excuses that a government can find to oppress the freedom of expression of its people.

  2. Adella Harbar says:

    It is ludicrous to put someone on trial for using a social media site!

  3. …Un Pays et son gouvernement ,c’est le droit du peuple ,pas celui de ses dirigeants…
    Liberté ,droit d’expression ,égalité pour la femme autant que pour l’homme …
    Respect des citoyens avec un gouvernement de démocratie moderne , adapté au 21 ième siècle
    et non comme au moyen âge ,avec une répression barbare !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    J’exprime mon soutien aux 29 individus hommes et femmes pour qui ,aura lieu le procès ce lundi 21 avril ,
    accusés à tord et à travers pour aucuns motifs valables et sérieux !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Monsieur le Président ,gouvernez avec sagesse !

  4. nelly bocchi says:

    La libertà di espressione è un diritto anche in turchia.

  5. Loes Koenen says:

    It’s a disgrees!!

  6. Taraneh says:

    Asking for help in the face of police violence is NOT A CRIME.

  7. jean says:

    every one (adult) should have the right of freedom of speech including using face book and twitter

  8. luk sips says:

    another world is possible !

  9. Judith naisar says:

    Let them free!

  10. Tobi Indyke says:

    A strong government is transparent and encourages questions and opinions so that it can consistently reevaluate it’s direction and continue to become an improved government. A weak government oppresses, is opaque and is afraid of change.

  11. Miguel Angel García Aguirre says:

    POR LA LIBERTAD DE EXPRESIÓN Y DE INFORMACIÓN

  12. Miguel Angel García Aguirre says:

    POR EL DERECHO A LA LIBERTAD DE EXPRESIÓN Y DE INFORMACIÓN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>