Embedding hatred

The BBC has more details on Erdoğan’s way with dissenters.

Turkey’s hard line on insults:

  • Between August 2014 and March 2015, 236 people investigated for “insulting the head of state”; 105 indicted; eight formally arrested
  • Between July and December 2014 (Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidency), Turkey filed 477 requests to Twitter for removal of content, over five times more than any other country and an increase of 156% on the first half of the year
  • Reporters Without Borders places Turkey 149th of 180 countries in the press freedom index
  • During Mr Erdogan’s time in office (Prime Minister 2003-14, President from 2014), 63 journalists have been sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison, with collective fines of $128,000
  • Article 299 of the Turkish penal code states that anybody who insults the president of the republic can face a prison term of up to four years. This sentence can be increased by a sixth if committed publicly; and a third if committed by press or media

It’s pretty staggering.

A wide range of people have been hit by the charge, from writers to artists, journalists to protesters.

A 16-year-old boy was indicted earlier this year for calling the president a thief during a demonstration. He could be jailed for up to four years if convicted.

Even a former Miss Turkey has faced the charge, for posting a poem deemed to insult the president on her Instagram account.

And as for a working journalist…

Those targeted for their tweets include a former television journalist, Sedef Kabas. In one, she made reference to a massive corruption probe against the political establishment, including Mr Erdogan, which had been shelved by a government-appointed judge.

“Never forget the name of the judge who dropped the investigation,” she wrote on Twitter.

The following day, police turned up at her house, confiscated her laptop and phone, and she was charged.

She could face a sentence of up to five years for her tweet and another four years for making police wait at her front door.

“Those who back the governing party are free to insult and use defamatory language, while those critical of what’s happening are suffering,” she tells me.

“They’re trying to polarise people as religious and non-religious, pro- and anti-Erdogan – and are embedding hatred in people. He’s passing the message to his supporters: if you hate them, you’ll support me more adamantly. War is being used as a tool to receive more support.”

The Beeb asked to talk to the AK party but were told no.

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