Reactions to Access Block on bianet: ‘This is an Intervention in People’s Right to Information’

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  • August 6, 2019
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The Ankara 3rd Penal Judgeship of Peace imposed an access block on 136 web addresses, including, in a ruling dated July 16. Representatives from journalism organizations have criticized the verdict.

TGC: What is the reason for the block?

Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) Secretary-General Sibel Güneş: As TGC, we think that access blocks imposed on hundreds of sites like bianet through the Penal Judgeships of Peace are an attempt to prevent the right to information.

We see that blocks occur without any reason for why the websites are blocked is being shared with the public. Unfortunately, Turkey continues to be among the most problematic countries in terms of freedom of the press.

For democracy to develop and the people to be informed about the truths in this country, it must be ensured that websites, newspapers, journalists can do their jobs.

We define the block on bianet’s publishing as a new unlawful intervention in terms of freedom of the press.

TGS: This verdict has no place in the law

Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Chairperson Gökhan Durmuş: The mentality that can’t accept democracy and freedom of expression continuously attacks the people’s right to be informed through censorship and blocking.

Upon a request by the Gendarmerie General Command, the Ankara 3rd Penal Judgeship of Peace imposed an access block to 136 websites, tweets and Facebook posts.

This ruling that has been made on the ground of “preventing crimes” has no place in the law. With this ruling, the court board disregarded the rules of law that they took the oath of allegiance.

There is not a crime that is committed. There is no report, content or post that constitutes a crime. But a decision of access block was made on news websites that are followed by thousands of people like bianet.

DİSK Basın-İş: Journalism is under heavy pressure

Confederation of Progressive Unions of Turkey – Press, Broadcast and Printing Press Workers Union of Turkey (DİSK Basın-İş) Chairperson Faruk Eren: We face new rulings against journalists and freedom of the press everyday. We say, ‘This is going too far,’ but this really is an awful ruling.

Journalism is under heavy pressure. It is attempted to be killed. But journalists resist stubbornly.

We are with bianet, we want all websites that are shut down to be opened immediately. We are in solidarity with all of them.

RSF: A dangerous decision

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu: The ruling Ankara 3rd Penal Judgeship of Peace made regarding the closure of the news website on the ground of “national security” is a ruling that targets free reporting and is extremely arbitrary and dangerous.

Having a sign of a judge is not enough to make a text that does not include justification, argument and comment a lawful decision. This act of censorship exposed the insincerity of those who hailed the judiciary reform as “there will be URL-based access block.” There cannot be reform with the understanding of the oppressive state. We call them to implement the decision that was made on July 16.

MLSA: Unlawfulness should be retracted immediately

Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Coordinator Barış Altıntaş: This censorship verdict that came days after the RTÜK (Radio and Television Supreme Council) regulation and the access block on bianet clearly shows that the government turns to independent internet media.

Let alone the announcement of the justification of the access block on bianet, the organization was not even informed about the access block multiplies the extent of unlawfulness. Increasing internet censorship also reveals the government’s great fear.

Because they are aware that the unlawfulness they commit won’t be heard in the public without independent media organizations such as bianet. The unlawfulness that bianet and other websites are subjected to should immediately be retracted and the government should leave these unacceptable methods.

ÇGD: We denounce the verdict without question

Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD) Chairperson Can Güleryüzlü: We denounce the verdict without question. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are in danger. The court who made the decision has violated the Constitution by disregarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

We are no strangers to this understanding. Many press organizations were shut down with this understanding through statutory decrees. Today, this continues through courts.

While we can’t accept a block on even a single news report if it doesn’t contain violence, we can never accept a website blocked entirely. We denounce the shutting down of bianet, an organization that has existed in the press sector for years.

This doesn’t seem like a lawful decision. It can’t have a legal basis. For this reason, this verdict should be retracted.