27 November 2008, 10:00am
Turkey’s status as the only country in the world which blocks ‘YouTube’ is being challenged by a leading advocate of the country’s European Union membership, during a high level parliamentary human rights delegation.
British Labour Euro MP Richard Howitt highlighted that the one thousand websites blocked in Turkey puts the country alongside Iran, North Korea and Vietnam as one of the world’s worst offenders for cyber censorship. Richard Howitt MEP is calling for legal reform both to respect freedom of expression as well as advancing the country’s economic interests.
The British Euro MP will call for the ban to be overturned at a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin in Ankara today.
Richard Howitt MEP, who is Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-Committee visiting Turkey this week said:
‘As a modern country looking forward to European Union membership, Turkey should be embracing new communications rather than putting itself in the same bracket as some of the world’s pariah states.
‘Whilst honouring Turkey’s founder, Ataturk, blocking more than 50 websites for insulting his memory cannot be equated with banning sites for child pornography or paedophilia.
‘Britain’s Queen has her own channel on YouTube and Turkey should be exploiting the political and economic opportunities it provides, rather than seeking to ban it.
‘Banning YouTube, Google’s blogging site, the websites of a teachers’ trade union, Richard Dawkins and even a Turkish dictionary stands alongside more than 40 cases against writers and journalists even since the reform of the so-called anti-Turkishness article of the country’s penal code.
‘It shows the battle for free speech is integral to the changes the country needs to make to uphold European and human rights law.’
Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate has blocked over 1,000 websites since last year under the country’s law against cyber crime, which includes offences insulting the memory of Ataturk. Turkey is named alongside Vietnam, Tunisia, North Korea Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Iran for internet censorship by the Turkish Bar Association Information Centre. The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders this week condemned a fourth court order blocking access to YouTube, in the same week that British based cyber-rights.org published a new report entitled Internet: Restricted Access in Turkey.