“The international community will say this and that [about the ban], and it doesn’t concern me one bit. [The world] will see the power of the Turkish Republic.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, Turkey, March 20
Things didn’t work out as planned for PM Erdogan when he tried to shut down Twitter in Turkey on Thursday, March 20. However, the world did see the power of the Turkish people who boosted Twitter usage from 4.54 million to 6.04 million messages in the period after the government ordered the service banned according to the Somera Social Media Rating service. In addition to the 33% increase in message traffic, Somera reported a 17% increase in users. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, sent a message to Turkish users offering alternatives to access the service. (Image: Twitter)
Things just got worse for PM Erdogan. Today, Hurriyet Daily News, the leading Turkish source of information on the Erdogan scandals, reported that a Turkish court announced that it could “repeal the ban on Twitter” since it did not result from court action. The court said the action was “an executive decision, not a judicial verdict.”
Given Erdogans aggressive rhetoric against Twitter, there is little doubt that he was the government official initiating the drastic action. Erdogan promised to ban FaceBook and YouTube as well, if those services keep broadcasting audio recordings that embarrass Erdogan and the AK Party.
For the past month, anonymous Twitter users broadcast wire tapped phone conversations revealing massive corruption by PM Erdogan, his family, and business associates. Bribery, coercing judges on court rulings, and bid rigging are just three examples. In response, Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed legislation that gave the government the power to ban internet services used to criticize the government, i.e., Erdogan and associates. The audio tapes kept coming.
Erdogan and his defenders first claimed that the tapes were fake. When the voices were verified, the response shifted to a claim that the tapes were “montages” put together to make him look bad. Lately, Erdogan has simply claimed that he was serving the people by interfering with court decisions
Turkish Medical Association Thinks Erdogan has Lost his Mind
During the Gizi Park demonstrations that rocked Turkey over the summer of 2013, Berkin Elvan, a 15 year old boy, was shot in the head with a tear gas weapon. Elvan had been in a coma until his death on March 11. Massive demonstrations followed to mourn Elvan and protest the police action including two million people in the streets of Turkey’s capitol, Ankara on March 14. At this point, PM Erdogan issued a statement that Elvan had been part of a “terrorist organization.” The statement shocked the nation and inspired more protests.
Citing the attack on a dead boy, in the context of a litany of inflammatory statements by Erdogan over the past months, the medical association listed the abnormal behaviors displayed by the PM. Their conclusion was clear:
“We are doctors. We can accurately assess the emotional well being of a person, and we are worried about the emotional well being of Prime Minister Erdoğan. We are terribly worried. We are worried for him, his family and the entire country. And we would like to share our worry with the public.” Today’s Zaman, March 16
Signs that Erdogan was losing touch with reality emerged in August 2013 while the PM was visiting Turkey’s coastal city of Bodrum. Erdogan was shocked as he inspected the coastline:
“It is not understandable how the local municipalities stood idle while these buildings were constructed. They may face legal prosecutions, and they may lose their posts. We are immediately starting inspections and punishments.”
There was just one problem. Three separate agencies of Erdogan’s government had approved the construction and half was located on government land.
More ominously, Erdogan threatened to send Turkish troops into Syria to protect the shrine of a Turkish religious figure. The Turkish public is strongly opposed to Erdogan’s support of Syrian rebels and Turkish involvement in Syria. The leader of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had a message for the army: “‘I would like to call on the chief of general staff: Do not send Turkey on such an adventure, especially at a time when it is ruled by a suspect prime minister.
Erdogan is indeed more suspect with every day that passes. His assault on Internet freedom is one of his many usurpations of power.
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