Saturday, 29th April, early morning, Wikipedia “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” is blocked in Turkey. The block affects all language editions of the site. Try to access it from downtown Istanbul and all you will get is a “timeout” error message.
Hurriyet Daily News quoted Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) who admitted it had implemented the ban on wikipedia.org:
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651, an administrative measure has been taken for this website wikipedia.org,” it said.
Aljazeera, quoting the state-run Anadolu Agency and the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications as saying:
“Wikipedia ‘has started acting as part of the circles who carry out a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena, rather than being cooperative in fight against terror’, ministry officials were quoted as saying.
The website tried to show Turkey ‘at the same level and in cooperation with terror groups’, the report said.”
Most other social media sites have been temporarily banned in recent years in Turkey including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites, usually for posting material critical of the current AKP-run Turkish Government, whose arbitrary treatment of the human rights of its citizens seems to deteriorate by the day.
Aljazeera also quotes Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, on his twitter feed:
“Wikipedia’s founder vowed on Saturday to stand with Turks after the encyclopedia ban.
‘Access to information is a fundamental human right,’ Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on his Twitter feed. ‘Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right.'”
Mark Lowen, BBC’s Turkey Correspondent, currently based in Istanbul said:
“It’s become all too familiar here: the endless “loading” icon followed by the message “server timed out”.
Blocking websites is a common tool of the Turkish authorities…Critics say it smacks of Turkey’s repression of free speech: over half of all requests to Twitter to remove content have come from Turkey, and the country now ranks 155 of 180 in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters without Borders.
Social media was in uproar as news of the ban emerged, with some users speculating that it might be a bid to suppress criticism on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Wikipedia page…
One Twitter user noted that the Wikipedia page on Turkey’s referendum has a section on “controversies and electoral misconduct”, and cites claims that the government suppressed the No campaign through “arrests, control of the media…”
The Daily Sabah in Istanbul added:
“Officials have warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups but the site “persistently” did not.
Turkey also requested Wikipedia to open a representative agency in the country, comply with the international law, pay taxes like other companies operating in the country.
The officials said the website will be operative once again after the country’s demands are met.”
It seems that if you are not insulting the Turkish state now, you are trying to overthrow it. In either case, the message is simple: “Shut—–up.”
Sources & References
By Wikimedia Foundation – Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10310401