Erdogan rebuffs 'pressure' by social media providers

Recent events show importance of Turkey's legal fight against 'digital dictatorship and cyber bullying,' says president

Ali Murat Alhas   | 13.01.2021
Erdogan rebuffs 'pressure' by social media providers


Turkey will not bow down to "pressure" by social media companies that see themselves above the laws on individual rights, the country's president asserted Wednesday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks came at a media awards ceremony held in the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.

Digitalization across the world has brought some radical changes and technology is at the epicenter of human life, enabling people to obtain information at a real-time basis, Erdogan said, adding digitalization triggered some challenges and risks, though.

Some of these challenges emanating from new media instruments are cyberbullying, cyberterrorism and false news, and disinformation also peaked recently on social media, the president said.

"We surely cannot tolerate violent events targeting democracy and democratic institutions; however, we cannot also accept the closure of people's communication channels without any legal basis," he said, stressing that the US elections demonstrated how far the "digital fascism" could go.

He accused social media companies of not complying with court rulings in Turkey against accounts found to support terrorism.

"We can't allow terrorism, its propaganda to gain ground in the virtual world just as we don't allow terrorism within our borders," he said.

Erdogan added that recent developments across the world demonstrated the importance of Turkey's legal fight against "digital dictatorship and cyberbullying."

The leader also addressed the long-running sit-in protest of families in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, against the YPG/PKK terror group.

He welcomed the efforts of the Radio&TV Journalists Association to be the voice of the families protesting against the terror group which killed thousands of people in Turkey, including police, teachers, and preachers, along with countless civilians including scores of Kurdish people.

The protest outside the office of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) -- which the government accuses of having links to the YPG/PKK -- began on Sept. 3, 2019, when three mothers said their children had been forcibly recruited by YPG/PKK terrorists. The protest has snowballed since then with a great number of families across Turkey joining it.

The president said mothers' initiative to bring back their children demolished walls of horror and exposed the bloody face of the terror group, and added: "On behalf of myself, my wife and nation, I respectfully salute these brave mothers protesting for over 500 days to reunite with their children despite some disgusting attacks of terror group sympathizers."

Referring to those affiliated with the terror group without naming anyone, Erdogan said that they sent their own children to Europe for vacation but sent Kurdish children to Syria and Iraq to make them join the ranks of the terror group.

The Turkish president also criticized Western human rights organizations for not showing solidarity with the grieving families and playing three monkeys, adding that families' efforts demonstrated the ideological bigotry in the country.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot. Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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