The wave of resistance which started at Gezi Park in Istanbul and spread all over Turkey once again clearly revealed the deep connection between real time communication of the social media and social movements. The social media became the genuine news source in an environment in which the mainstream media became the site of disinformation and inertia. But more than that, the social media became indispensable with functioning as a source of information for those who are in need of organization, cooperation, solidarity, gathering evidence against security forces, and medical and legal assistance. That?s why the social media, with #DirenGeziParkı (#ResistGeziPark) was targeted by the Prime Minister and government?s spokespersons.
The Prime Minister, in an interview declared that the social media is ?trouble maker? which is full of slander and lies. Vice-Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, in his release after continuation of #DirenGeziParkı and increase in protest, stated that the social media is a manipulation center and they could block/cut off access if they wanted. Arınç?s statement was unfortunate since it was an open threat. Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin by adding that ?False tweet is more dangerous than a car bomb. Legal arrangement regarding social media is a must,? gave some clues about coming of a negative arrangement with dubious legal bases.
All statements of political power denoted the social media as unreliable, full of slander and lies, and center of manipulation. Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu today mentioned a ?social media operation.? Lastly, Attorney General of the Republic in Ankara received a court decision to investigate the cellular phones of 230 citizens in custody, most probably in order for technical examination of communication and social media sharing of citizens. We object the scapegoating of the social media through marking and cursing. Citizens, with the mediation of the social media found the opportunity to instantly share the events on the streets with Turkey and World opinion. Disproportionate use of force by the police, which was even admitted by the Prime Minister, could came into question by the help of the social media. Otherwise, authorities and those interested could not have been informed. The social media filled the gap opened by mainstream media which did not report the events and which stayed blind to the events. Many cases of violation of rights and police violence has been documented by citizens and brought into world?s attention, and thus prevented the further deterioration of events. Social media also played a crucial role in rescue and treatment of the wounded people, and the ones having asthma attacks and facing death. The social media saved lives.
To sum up, against the resources of political power, the social media has turned into a conduit through which the citizens could make their voices heard, and through which they could picture the injustices lived to the world. As it was the case for the Arab Spring and Occupy protests before. In absence of Internet and especially the social media, we don?t want to even imagine the possible consequences of unlimited violence of political power.
We are anxious
The statements of powerful who are uncomfortable with tis role of social media signals the increase in attempts for maintaining censorship and control over the social media and Internet. Besides, monitoring communication of citizens; illegally collecting personal information; and pressuring citizens for declaring their views and support through the social media are not acceptable. Up till now, the lawyers note that a look at the files of people who were taken into custody because of their Twitter shares reveals the fact that imputed accusations are not supported by any evidence.
We are anxious that the AKP government will add new practice to those we have criticized before such as censorship law which is against basic rights and freedoms; content filter; surveillance/discipline projects, and DPI. We are anxious about emergence of new violations of rights and freedoms.
We declare that we will use every democratic right we have and follow all possible legal paths against attempts which illegitimately limit and take away the rights and freedoms of citizens in a democratic society, and which violates the Constitution. We call political power to take a peaceful and conscientious stand that will calm down citizens.
We call all citizens to claim their right to Internet access, which is a basic human right, and to social media. We call all citizens to use these conduits more effectively and accurately. #ResistSocialMedia
Alternative Informatics Association / Alternatif Bilişim Derneği