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Turks bid farewell to the Internet in the face of brutal censorship/surveillance law

Turkey's brutal new Internet law grants the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate the power to arbitrarily censor Web-pages to the individual URL level, much like the Great Firewall of China -- meaning that specific articles that are critical of the state can be censored while leaving the remainder of the site intact. It criminalizes "harmful" Internet messages and hosting "harmful" content, and requires long-term data-retention by ISPs, meaning the state and police will be able to access records of your entire online activity. It will also mandate the use of deep packet inspection to detect and disrupt technologies for evading censorship and maintaining privacy.

The law was passed in a process rife with corruption, secrecy and other undemocratic irregularities. Turkey's #OccupyGezi uprising galvanized a diverse opposition that took to the streets against corruption and repression, spread using the Internet. It documented police brutality that shocked the world and uploaded the videos to Youtube. As the forces of reaction and oppression in Turkey move to consolidate their power, it's clear that this law is intended to prevent any further use of networks to organize and publicize opposition movements.

On Medium, Ahmet A. Sabancı has posted a poignant farewell to the Internet from Istanbul:

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Scenes from Turkey and Brazil


(A protester in Sao Paulo kisses a Turkish flag. Brazilians say they were, to a large extent, influenced by #occupygezi)

Yup, they're still in the streets in Turkey. And Brazil. And it's not just because Turkish cops buy their tear-gas from Brazil. Yesterday's Brazilian protests widened the causes under discussion, expanding to cover new laws that will make it harder to punish corrupt public officials. Photos from the excellent OccupyGeziPics Tumblr.

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Turkish cops shoot a protester's drone out of the sky

Above, footage of a protester's quadcopter in Gezi Park getting shot down by the Turkish Police. Below, the footage of police violence the drone had been capturing (complete with music that sounds like it came out of an orc-fighting scene in the Hobbit). Ahead of us: a long, weird future history of protest.

Tuesday afternoon on June 11th 2013, Police was violently attacking peaceful protestors. Police fired guns at one of our RC drone during the protests in Taksim square, Istanbul. Police aimed directly at the camera. Due to the impact on the camera (it did have a housing) the last video was not saved properly on the SD card. The camera and drone were both broken. Managed to keep the SD card. Here is the footage from that camera! This footage you are about to see is from the prior flights minutes before the incident.

Turkish drone shooting heralds a new age of civillian counter-surveillance

Young Gezi protester waits out the tear-gas in a Burger King


From the Occupy Gezi Pics tumblr: "A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday, after she managed to escape the tear gas outside. The caption reads: 'Spring will come again. I promise you.'"

A young girl in a Burger King restaurant on Sunday

Brutal crackdown on Turkish protests


Barricades at Nisantasi, at 4:50AM Sunday

Poiu is in Turkey; he writes: " Since yesterday evening, everything has worsened. Unfortunately it is not really covered by local media, the consequence of that being that it gets a lot less international attention than it should. People are gassed here non stop, in all central Istanbul areas. Tens of thousands of people are out in the streets. The only two channels who cover the street events are ULUSAL KANAL CANLI YAYINI and artı bir tv. You should check them out just to get an idea of the scale and the drama."

Meanwhile, there's a lot of astounding stuff in the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr.

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Turkish EU minister: protesters will be treated as terrorists


Turkish police used extreme force to eject the protesters from Taksim Square yesterday. Egemen Bağış, Turkey's representative in the EU, gave a televised address in which he said, "[The police] will intervene against anybody who tries to enter Taksim Square, [treating them] as a terrorist."

Everyone who enters Taksim Square will be treated as a terrorist: Turkish EU Minister

(via Reddit)

(Image: "People crossing Bosphprous Bridge (normally closed to pedesterians) headed for Taksim square" Ve halk kopruyu gecti/ @marjinal_hatun)

Why are the protesters in Gezi Park?

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish-American Princeton/UNC sociologist who studies social movements and the Internet is presently in Istanbul's Gezi Park at the protests. She follows up on her earlier piece on the "social media style of protest" with a long and thoughtful look at what the protesters on the ground in Gezi Park are doing and why they're doing it:

After talking to the park protesters for days here is a very quick compilation of the main complaints and reasons people say brought them to the park:

1- Protesters say that they are worried about Erdogan’s growing authoritarian style of governance. “He thinks we don’t count.” “He never listens to anyone else.” “Why are they trying to pass laws about how I live? What’s it to him?”

Erdogan’s AKP party won the last election (its third) and is admittedly popular with many sectors of society, including some who are now in the Park have voted for him. It has accomplished many good things for the country through a program of reform and development. Any comparisons with Mubarak and pre-Tahrir 2011 Egypt are misplaced and ignorant. The country is polarized; it is not ruled by an unelected autocrat.

However, due to the electoral system which punishes small parties (with a 10% barrier for entrance to the parliament) and a spectacularly incompetent opposition, AKP has almost two-thirds of the deputies in the parliament with about 50% of the vote. Due to this set up, they can pass almost any law they want. People said to me “he rules like he has 90%.”

So, that seems to be the heart of the issue. People have a variety of grievances, but concentrate mostly about overreach and “majoritarian authoritarianism.” For example, Erdogan recently announced that they would be building a third bridge over the Bosphorus strait. Many people felt that the plan was not discussed at all with the public and concerns about environmental impact ignored. Then, he announced that they had decided the bridge would be named “Yavuz Sultan Selim”–an Ottoman king (“padisah”) famous for a massacre of Alevi (Turkey’s alawites) populations. Unsurprisingly, Alevis who compromise a significant portion of the Turkish population were gravely offended. In the predominantly “GAzi” (not Gezi) neighborhood, people have been marching every night since the Taksim protests began. Last night, they blocked the main TEM highway for a while before voluntarily dispersing.

Read on for an excellent on-the-ground view of the mood of the protesters, some important observations on censorship, and a sickening look at the police violence directed against the protesters.

What do #occupygezi Protesters Want? My Observations from Gezi Park

Photos from #OccupyGezi

In case you've forgotten it amidst the Prism and Greek broadcaster shut-down stories, here's a reminder that the police are still engaged in a brutal crackdown on protesters across Turkey, courtesy of the Occupy Gezi Pics Tumblr:

"Taksim rainbow, Tuesday evening."

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Scenes from #OccupyGezi

Three photos picked from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr, chosen for their vivid incongruities, and also to remind us all that Turkey still fights for the right to protest:


Another photo of the woman in red surfaces.

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Interview with Turkish woman occupying Gezi Park

Rene from the German site Nerdcore sez, "A friend of mine who is staying in Istanbul right now contacted me this morning and I had the opportunity to interview a girl who is occupying Gezi Park in Turkey right now. The situation calmed down, but she told me that actually the whole city of Istanbul is up on their feet roaming the streets."

D: The protests started with only a bunch of people who sat on at Gezi Parc so they don’t turn the only green area at Taksim so it becomes a mall. I must say they have reason. I never go to that parc unless i have to walk through but from Şişhane to where I live there are already 8 shopping malls! it’s crazy. The protestors are aware of that this is not against a shopping mall. It started like that but when the police attacked a bunch of people and continued the second day, the people rised against the brutality of the government. And now it is about the force that he uses against his people, the rules he makes because he wants to and that he bans all kind of freedom for the Turkish people.

NC: What’s the Military doing right now? Can they play a bigger role, although Erdogan pretty much deprived them of power?

D: Well, the military is silent. I don’t know wether they can play a role. If that happens it already sounds very scary. But as you said, Erdoğan did deprive them of power. I have heard that the military house in Harbiye took some people in to protect them but they don’t interfere.

Interview with an Occupy Gezi-Protester in Istanbul

Gas-mask dervish: #occupygezi


Mathilda sez, "In this photo by Twitter user @joeman24, a gas-mask wearing Dervish dances in front of protesters in Turkey."

A gas-mask wearing Whirling Dervish shows support for protesters in #Turkey

OccupyGezi: the People's Bulldozer



Two photos from the OccupyGeziPics Tumblr show the "people's bulldozer" in action -- apparently a mechanical digger commandeered off a building site by protesters in Besiktas (one of my Twitter followers reports a rumor that it was a youth gang, and not portesters, though of course, youth gangs may be protesting too), and used to attack police barricades.

Roundup of #occupygezi

Mathilda writes,

Throughout the weekend, protests have erupted in Turkey in response to the brutal pacification of a peaceful sit-in in Istanbul. Over 1,700 people have been arested and there are multiple unconfirmed reports of people dying. The Prime Minister is blaming the entire protest on the social menace known as Twitter, which seems to be the only way for protesters to communicate (hashtag #occupygezi), as Turkish media networks seem to keep mum on the whole affair, and cell phone providers are pressured by the government to block communications.

Meanwhile, the police are using tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to pacify the growing unrest. Amnesty International claims at least two protesters died so far, and Twitter is abuzz with reports of the police firing at defenseless people and demolishing shops to get at the protesters trying to hide inside.

Protester kicking away teargas cannister


From OccupyGeziPics: an uncredited photo of a woman in at the Turkish anti-government/pro-democracy protests kicking away a tear-gas cannister. It's an amazing shot -- like something out of a Banksy stencil come to life. Do you know who took it?

A young woman kicks back the tear gas.

What is the social media style of protest?

Zeynep Tufekci's essay analyzing the role that social media played in both the #OccupyGezi and the Arab Spring explores the differences and similarities between different uprisings, and has some very incisive things to say about what social media contributes to political change movements:

It was after the Gezi protesters were met with the usual combination of tear-gas and media silence something interesting started happening. The news of the protests started circulating around social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I follow a sizable number of people in Turkey and my Twitter friends include AKP supporters as well as media and academics. Everyone was aghast at the idea that a small number of young people, trying to protect trees, were being treated so brutally. Also, the government, which usually tends to get ahead of such events by having the prime minister address incidents, seemingly decided to ignore this round. They probably thought it was too few, too little, too environmental, too marginal.

On that, it seems they were wrong. Soon after, I started watching hashtags pop-up on Twitter, and established Twitter personas –ranging from media stars to political accounts– start sharing information about solidarity gatherings in other cities, and other neighborhoods in Istanbul. Around 3am, I had pictures from many major neighborhoods in Turkey –Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Beşiktaş, Avcılar, etc– showing thousands of people on the streets, not really knowing what to do, but wanting to do something. There was a lot of banging of pots, flags, and slogans. There were also solidarity protests in Izmit, Adana, Izmir, Ankara, Konya, Afyon, Edirne,Mersin, Trabzon, Antalya, Eskişehir, Aydın and growing.

Is there a Social-Media Fueled Protest Style? An Analysis From #jan25 to #geziparki