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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Turkish media wars: part III

Back from a lull in posting caused by an overdose of work.

While I've been busy doing other things, the Turkish "media wars" have raged on. On March 3rd, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Štefan Füle, issued a strongly worded comment on the recent arrests of Turkish journalists. According to EurActiv, Füle's statement notes that
Štefan Füle, Wikipedia Commons
The European Commission is following with concern the recent police actions against journalists, including the detention today of Nedim Şener, Ahmet Şık and others and the arrests last week of ODA TV site administrators Soner Yalçın, Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan.
And the European Parliament yesterday passed a highly critical statement on Turkey, the most critical document to come from the EP since the opening of negotiations in 2005, according to the Turkish opposition party CHP's Brussels representative. The Turkish foreign ministry criticized the document for being "one-sided, unacceptable and irrelevant to reality" and even the CHP's Brussels chief described it as a poor analysis of events in Turkey. The document was passed as part of the EP's consideration of the Commission's 2010 Progress Report from November of last year. (The Progress Report can be accessed here, and the text adopted by the EP is available here.)

But the EU is not the only actor critical of the Ergonekon probe-related media arrests. The Wall Street Journal reports that even the Turkish President, Abdullah Gül, has expressed "concern" over the arrests, stating that they constitute "developments that the public conscience cannot accept."

In an independent development but adding insult to the injury caused to Turkish media by the Ergonekon investigation, my Turkish readers may soon no longer be able to access this blog since a court in Diyarbakır (a city in Southeast Turkey) has decided that Blogger should be blocked in Turkey. Le Monde reports that the decision comes after a petition by the Turkish media group Digiturk. Apparently, some Blogger pages transmit material - in particular football matches - that infringe on copyright and intellectual property rights.

Fair enough, but shutting down the entire Blogger platform due to the unwarranted activities of a few of its users is draconian and entirely disproportionate. A free media (and blogs are included in this category) is as important to a vibrant democracy as oxygen is to human life, and you wouldn't outlaw air because of a few polluters! (OK, I welcome better analogies in the comments section...)
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