Internet Censorship

The Turkish government has developed legal and institutional reforms motivated by the ambitions of the country to become an EU member, demonstrating at the same time its high sensitivity to defamation and other online content “inappropriate”; these reforms have led to the closure of a number of local and international Web sites. All Internet traffic goes through the infrastructure of Turk Telecom, which allows a centralized control on online content and facilitates the implementation of blockades. In December 2010, the OpenNet Initiative, an organization based in Canada and the United States, which investigates, analyzes and disseminates filtering and surveillance practices on the Internet, classified the Internet censorship in Turkey as selective (in third place in their classification four levels) in political and social areas and found no evidence of censorship in conflict / security. Reporters Without Borders, including in 2011, Turkey in its list of 16 countries “under surveillance.” The year 2010 was marked by the release of the video-sharing site YouTube. Online censorship in Turkey still persists; in a country where abound taboo subjects, several thousand websites are still inaccessible and persist legal proceedings against journalists online).

Lorella Ceschi

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Kurds, second-class citizens or not citizens at all?


Protest march against Erdogan’s new war on Kurds, in

News of 5 April, in Middle East Eye web site, reported some phrases of a speech in which President Erdogan proposed to strip the Turkish citizenship to the supporters of Kurdish rebels locked in conflict with government troops. President Erdogan pointed out that the supporters are terrorists and also what is the definition of terrorism. He said that “Supporters (of terror) who pose as academics, spies who identify themselves as journalists, an activist disguised as a politician … are no different from the terrorists who throw bombs,”.

The idea of stripping the citizenship came up after the last two month increasing violence due to the worsening and then break of the negotiations with PKK in July 2015. Recently there have been frequent government retaliations, in Kurdish area in which the rebels have their refuge, and consequently violent answers from Kurds.

In addition, the Nationalist Movement party’s leader Devlet Bahçeli asked for withdrawing  the parliamentary immunity of the members of the Parliament affiliated with PKK, that is to say the HD Party, and he also made a motion, to the Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, to destroy the meridional district of Nusabybin after having evacuated the local residents.

News  of 22 April, in and, reported  how the situation has  recently developed. Yesterday four Turkish academics went on trial in Istanbul.  They have been accused of having signed a petition, with more than 1,000 scholars, asking the end of the military campaign against Kurds in the south-est of the country. Moreover the same day, in another court of law in Istanbul, two journalists responded to the accusation of spy, attempted coupe and to support terrorism.

These days have also seen an escalation of violence  in Kurdish area where, according to, many cities have been bombed and are under curfew. In Nusaybin about 35,000 civilians, have been  under siege for two months and they are without food, safe water, medicines  and electricity.

Maria Maddalena Vanzin

New claims for Turkish television

Last October, the Turkish police took control – on live television – of two stations opposed to Erdogan’s power. They ‘re Bugun TV and Kanalturk, both owned by the Koza-Ipek group. The police barged into the company’s headquarters to notify the decision of the Ankara court that entrusted the management-controlled administration. The officers first dispersed with tear gas and water cannons employees who were trying to defend the entrance of the office which houses the two television stations, then take the direction with the new directors of the issuer. The Koza-Ipek group in fact has been put under protection by the judiciary on charges of “financing, recruiting and propaganda” on behalf of Imam Fethullah Gulen, the head of a network of NGOs and the media defined by the authorities in Ankara as a “terrorist organization”. The judicial decision to place under guardianship the two broadcasters was strongly criticized by the opposition as an attack on freedom of expression.

Lorella Ceschi

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Turkey and ISIS: The Oil Case (Part 1)



Last week we saw that there are many facts suggesting a tacit complicity of the Turkish government with ISIS, which is due to a deep hatred that President Erdogan feels towards the Kurds.
This time we will have a look to a more specific reality concerning this topic, which deals with the issue of oil.
At the end of last year, the Russian Defense Ministry showed that there’s a vast illegal oil trade lead by ISIS, in which Turkey “is the main buyer of smuggled oil coming from Iraq and Syria”, according to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov ( He said that many live oil pipelines, made up of thousands of oil trucks, are used to let the oil enters the Turkish territory.
This oil smuggling is a fundamental source of income for ISIS: it’s used in part to finance its fighters’ salaries and the welfare system’s high costs (
The ministry also added that Russia succeeded in reducing the IS income thanks to its anti-terrorist operation, which started on September 30 (
Putin affirmed that Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane on November 24 was aimed at protecting its oil trade with ISIS.
President Erdogan denied that, stating that his decision to shoot down the warplane was motivated by a violation of Turkish airspace after 10 warnings to leave had been sent. He also denied his oil traffics with ISIS and stated that he would resign if it was proven to be true (



The US denied all the Russian claims, labelling them as absurd and defending its Turkish ally against Russia’s accusations.
Steve Warren, the Pentagon spokesman, stated that Turkey had demonstrated to be a reliable partner against ISIS, helping the US in many ways, such as hosting their aircraft and conducting strikes, among the others (
Russia was also accused by the US of hitting other anti-Assad rebel groups, among which there were some fighters supported by Turkey (
Next time we will see how the situation has been evolving in more recent times.


Federico Tirindelli


Russia total war! (part 1)

Russia total war! (part 1)

The economic embargo

This week we will deal with the economic embargo which Moscow is putting on Ankara.

The same day of Su-24 was shot down, the Russian government and the department of foreign affairs elaborated a “retaliation plan” against Turkey.

It was developed into three points:

  • an economic embargo on Turkish exports
  • a fast and progressive isolation of Turkey on international, political and diplomatic, plan.
  • a military escalation in the Syrian war landscape

The effect of the economic sanctions were reflected in Turkish export figures in January, which show that exports were 14.4 percent lower this year than for the same month last year. There are growing problems, even bankruptcy, in the food (food will mean losses of about $764 mln), textile (traders have already lost 60%), tourism and construction sectors. In the agriculture sector, according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM), from December 2015 to January 2016, exports to Russia dropped by 56 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. In addition to launching an anti-Turkish campaign in Russia, Putin called on citizens not to travel to Turkey for security reasons. According to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), tourism revenue dropped by 14.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 (Turkey’s Mediterranean resorts  were the second most popular holiday destination for Russians in 2014).

Turkey risks losing $3.5 bn annually in income from Russian tourists, and another $4.5 bn annually through the cancellation of construction projects. Economist Erhan Aslanoglu predicts that the cost for Turkey in lost business could be at least $10 bn.



Morosin Walter



Kurds in Turkish parliament

The story of Kurdish movements for revolution and independence from Turkey in order to create an independent State see a long list of parties born and then died or banned. Last year saw a sizeable entry of Kurdish members in parliament.

The two recent elections in Turkey have seen the rapid rise and fall of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party HDP (People Democratic Party). The party has its roots in the violent Kurdish political movement but has recast itself as a left-liberal inclusive pacifist movement and a bulwark against President Erdogan  growing authoritarianism. In the June’s election  the HDP gained 79 seats in parliament, a victory for the party and his charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtaş. Demirtaş  is the voice of a new Turkey that goes beyond  the defence  of interests and cultural ethnical claims of the Kurdish minority and gives voices to claims of rights of women, gays and lesbians. His political program convinced also the Kurds  that previously voted for  the AK party of President Erdogan.  AK party’s message of change and reforms towards the resolution of the Kurdish issue appealed to Kurds in previous elections. In recent years, AK party relied on a services policy, and chose to emphasize the infrastructure projects undertaken to improve socioeconomic conditions in the southeastern provinces. This fell short of convincing the Kurdish electorate’s expectations for further political reforms. As the character of Kurdish politics was undergoing a structural transformation in the region, AK party fell out of sync with the new Kurdish psyche, as was demonstrated in  Uludere and Kobane. While AK party took a courageous step by initiating the resolution process in 2013, it apparently failed to maintain the momentum when it came to delivering on further cultural and language rights.

The faltering of the peace process due to other domestic crises which the AK party had been struggling with, the mixed messages during the election campaign, and the placement of locally not appealing candidates obviously undermined AK party’s credibility in the eyes of the Kurdish electorate. Many Kurds who viewed AK party as the agent of change came to question its commitment to the resolution of the Kurdish issue.

The further months have seen the death of this dream and the new elections in November, due to the failure of the AKP of having a majority in Parliament. In the Nov. 1  elections, the HDP vote declined to 10.8%, resulting in the party losing 21 of the 80 ( or 79 according to other news) parliamentary seats it had won just five months earlier. More recently, prominent voices in the mainstream, secular-liberal media who had supported Demirtas, or at least seemed sympathetic to his cause, began to oppose him and his party. Many political commentators believe the HDP “squandered” the opportunity it had created earlier in the year and will never regain it.

Read more:

According to the author of the article the main reason of this failure is the break of the sluggish yet still effective peace process remained ongoing between the government and the PKK.

Maria Maddalena Vanzin



Freedom of expression. Tomorrow will be worse?

The commissioner of the Zaman newspaper is just the latest in a long series of government attacks on media not aligned in Turkey, in the silent complicity of the US and Europe.

Erdoğan era in Turkey that a newspaper is closed, an opposition journalist arrested or fired after one of many invectives ad personam of the president, it has become so familiar as not to arouse more in public focus.

Between now a bloody monthly attacks, systematic repression by the police of street protests,( diplomatic crisis with world powers and a violent war against the Kurdish separatists of the PKK in the southeast of the country, the commissioner of Zaman, one of the most important Turkish newspapers, for many it is just a story of many.

After the breakout took place between the president and the Muslim preacher Gulen, a former supporter of the government in 2013 became opponent of the owner and the daily Zaman, Erdogan and the government headed by his party in the last three years have assumed the almost exclusive police check , judiciary, intelligence agencies, the media and even the army by placing loyalists of the President in all the major nerve centers of the state. Today the voices and institutions in a position to counterbalance the power of Erdogan counted on the fingers of one hand.


To pay the price are the Turkish journalists as the Director of Cumhuriyet Can Dündar, released pending trial on February 26, and the Kurds. One of the major independent television stations close to the Kurdish movement, IMC-TV was obscured, ironically, the very day of the liberation of Dündar, and all other dissenting voices who courageously continue to demand more democracy and rights. President turkish, however, knows that it can act undisturbed. Brussels is too busy to make a deal with Ankara to lock down the borders of Fortress Europe to give weight to these things and the US can not do without the support of turkish in the “war against the Islamic State” in Syria to go beyond ritual declarations.

Lorella Ceschi

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