After the release of a Presidential Circular, signed by Turkish president and Justice and Development Party (AKP) chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 28 January and published in the Official Gazette on 29 January, including censorship of the press, access was blocked to various Kurdish newspapers and websites in Turkey.
At the time of the release of the circular, access to websites such as Yeni Yaşam newspaper, ETHA, Alınteri, Özgür Gelecek and Mücadele Birliği was blocked. The Kurdish newspaper Xwebûn was one of these. Access to Xwebûn was blocked immediately the circular was signed.
The Kurdish Language Commission of the Şırnak Bar Association condemned the blocking of access to Xwebûn and said such practices should be stopped:
“It is unacceptable to block Kurdish media outlets for no reason. We at Şırnak Bar Association do not accept the blocking of Kurdish media outlets. Officials need to remove these barriers as soon as possible and abandon prohibitive policies on the Kurdish language.”
Last year it was reported that Xwebûn was refused to prisoners in Turkey because of “incomprehensible language”, and the prisons administration did not allow the newspaper because Kurdish was deemed a “foreign language”.
Elif Can Alkan, editor-in-chief of Xwebûn newspaper, said that the Kurdish language was being targeted with the blocking of access to their site, adding “they want to monopolise Kurdish,” MA reported.
Censorship in Turkey
According to Reporters without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index 2021, Turkey ranks 153rd among 180 countries in the world.
“All means possible are used to eliminate pluralism in this ‘New Turkey’ marked by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hyper-presidency; one in which arbitrary decisions by magistrates and government agencies are the new normal. Internet censorship has reached unprecedented levels. Questioning the authorities and the privileged is now almost impossible,” the RSF report stated.
Many commentators say that pressure on the media will increase in 2022 with this new presidential circular.