Monday 29. April 2019 marks two years since the Turkish government blocked access to Wikipedia in Turkey.
Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia at ARTICLE 19, said:
“The ban on Wikipedia is part of the Turkish Government’s relentless attacks on its citizens’ freedom of speech.
“By banning the site, the Government is preventing 80 million Turkish citizens from both accessing and exchanging information through the world’s largest encyclopaedia. The consequences for freedom of speech are even more severe given that Turkish citizens have virtually no independent media to turn to for information.”
ARTICLE 19 and other human rights organisations are are calling for the Turkish Government to overturn the ban here.
The Wikipedia ban
On 29 April 2017, the Turkish government banned access to all language versions of the Wikipedia website under Turkish law No.5651, otherwise known as the Internet Act, which provides measures for online restrictions and blockings in the face of threats to national security.
The Turkish authorities reported that they imposed the ban after Wikipedia refused to take down an article alleging Turkish government support for terrorist groups in Syria.
The ban shows the level of Internet and media censorship in Turkey, which has got worse since the failed attempted coup in 2016. Access to many websites and platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have been blocked or temporarily restricted on the authorities’ pretence of protecting against security threats. According to Twitter reports, Turkey makes more requests for content removal on the platform than any other country in the world. As a consequence, access to information within Turkey has been reduced and access to news from within Turkey has lowered worldwide.
Despite numerous calls and appeals by civil society groups and Wikipedia itself there is no sign of the ban being overturned. The Wikimedia Foundation filed an appeal to the constitutional court against the ban on Wikipedia in May 2017 but have received no response so far.
The Turkish government has stopped releasing data concerning internet trials and bans, claiming that the data is harming Turkey’s international reputation.
In March 2018, the Wikimedia Foundation launched their ‘We miss Turkey campaign’ which calls for the block to be removed and for people around the world to tweet how the block on Turkey has affected them. The Foundation is reprising the campaign this year on Twitter and Instagram. The campaign calls for the block to be removed and for people around the world to share how the block on Turkey has impacted them.
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Notes to Editors
ARTICLE 19 is a freedom of expression organisation that campaigns for a world where all people everywhere can freely express themselves and actively engage in public life without fear of discrimination.
The statement calling for the end to the Wikipedia ban has been signed by ARTICLE 19, P24, ARTICOLO 21, Initiative for Freedom of Expression, Norwegian Pen, International Press Institute, Pen International and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.