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Turkey signs law ‘criminalizing’ medical first aid without govt permit

RT | January 19, 2014

A medical bill has been signed into law in Turkey that requires doctors to obtain government permission before administering emergency first aid. Critics have blasted the bill as a crackdown on doctors who treat activists injured during protests.

The bill, which was drawn up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), punishes health care professionals with up to three years in prison or a fine of almost $1 million if they administer emergency first aid without government authorization.

It also bans doctors from practicing outside state medical institutions and aims to stop them from opening private clinics.

President Abdullah Gul signed the legislation into law Friday. It has prompted a flurry of accusations from rights groups, condemning it as an attempt to criminalize emergency health care and deter doctors from treating protesters.

The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) attacked the legislation as an attempt to quash dissent in Turkey, following last year’s violent protests.

“Passing a bill that criminalizes emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices,” PHR senior medical adviser Vincent Iacopino said in a statement on the PHR website.

Describing the bill as “repugnant,” Iacopino said the legislation not only puts everyone’s health at risk, but also conflicts with the Turkish constitution and “must be blocked through Turkey’s constitutional court.”

The PHR says the bill will also put the medical community at odds with their ethical and professional responsibility to care for the sick and wounded.

The UN has implored the Turkish government to rethink the bill because it will have “chilling effect on the availability and accessibility of emergency medical care in a country prone to natural disasters and a democracy that is not immune from demonstrations.”

In last year’s wave of protests against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, six people were killed and over 8,000 were injured across the country.

The government was accused of cracking down on medical professionals when the Turkish Health Ministry launched a probe into those doctors treating protesters in June. They asked the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) to hand over the names of the doctors and their patients.

“Recently we were inspected by the Ministry of Health, they said what we were doing here is wrong. But there could be no punishment for those who are helping people. There is no such religion or law that could discriminate against us,” Abtullah Cengiz, spokesman for the Gezi Park doctors, told RT in June.

January 19, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish government combing Twitter in search of protest organizers to arrest

RT | June 29, 2013

Turkish government officials are investigating Twitter and similar social media platforms in an attempt to identify and eventually prosecute the organizers of mass demonstrations, Erodgan administration officials said this week.

In the latest attack on social media’s role in protests, the country’s Transportation and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim called on social media networks on Friday to cooperate with authorities in the probe.

“Yes to the Internet … but an absolute no to its misuse as a tool for crimes, violence, chaos and disorder,” Yildirim said quoted as saying by the local Dogan news agency.

Authorities have scoured social networks searching for protest leaders since national unrest began on May 28 at a rally in Instanbul’s Taksim Square. Police have turned over at least 35 names to prosecutors in the city, according to Turkey’s Aksam newspaper.

It is illegal to ‘insult’ public officials in Turkey.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag acknowledged the existence of the list, the Associated Press reported, only saying ‘profanities and insults conducted electronically’ had contributed to the protests.

‘Crimes determined as such by the law don’t change if they are carried out through Facebook, Twitter or through other electronic means,’ he said. ‘No one has the right to commit crimes under the rule of law.’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has taken international criticism for the brutal police crackdown on protesters in the past month. The prime minister himself, when the rallies began, branded Twitter a ‘troublemaker’ used to spread ‘lies.’

What began as a protest against the redevelopment of Istanbul’s historic Gezi Park morphed into a national movement calling for a pluralistic society instead of Erdogan’s ‘authoritarian’ rule. The prime minister has also lost support for what critics say has been an attempt to impose Islamist values on a largely secular population.

He previously banned YouTube for two years beginning in 2008, citing the widespread presence of obscene material.

Erdogan’s deputies expressed hope that Facebook would allow them to comb through data and identify possible demonstration organizers. Facebook released a statement this week denying the disclosure, though, of any information to the government and expressing concern about future requests.

‘We will be meeting with representatives of the Turkish government when they visit Silicon Valley this week, and we intend to communicate our strong concerns about these proposals directly at that that time,’ Facebook said in a statement.

Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Binali Yildirim added that Twitter has not shown a ‘positive approach’ despite ‘necessary warnings’ from Turkey. He said that the Turkish government has asked Twitter, along with other social media sites, to set up a representative office inside the country.

‘We have told all social media that… if you operate in Turkey you must comply with Turkish law… When information is requested, we want to see someone in Turkey who can provide this… there needs to be an interlocutor we can put our grievance to and who can correct an error if there is one,’ he said.

‘Twitter will probably comply too. Otherwise, this is a situation that cannot be sustained,’ Yildirim stressed. His statement was presumably referring to social media’s role in the recent protests, though the social media companies themselves have had no role. He added that the government seeks only to ‘turn down the volume of the social media,’ rather than blocking it altogether.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey takes steps to monitor Twitter content, users

Al-Akhbar | June 27, 2013

Turkey said on Wednesday it had asked Twitter to set up a representative office inside the country, which could give it a tighter rein over the micro-blogging site it has accused of helping stir weeks of anti-government protests.

While mainstream Turkish media largely ignored the protests during the early days of the unrest, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook emerged as the main outlets for Turks opposed to the government.

Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on Wednesday that without a corporate presence in the country, the Turkish government could not quickly reach Twitter officials with orders to take down content or with requests for user data.

“When information is requested, we want to see someone in Turkey who can provide this … there needs to be an interlocutor we can put our grievance to and who can correct an error if there is one,” he said.

“We have told all social media that … if you operate in Turkey you must comply with Turkish law,” Yildirim said.

Twitter declined to respond to the government request on Wednesday, but a person familiar with the company’s thinking said it had no current plans to open an office in that country.

Turkey successfully pressured Google Inc into opening an office there last October after blocking YouTube, a Google subsidiary, from Turkish Internet users for two years.

While Ankara had no problems with Facebook, which had been working with Turkish authorities for a while and had representatives inside Turkey, Yildirim said it had not seen a “positive approach” from Twitter after Turkey issued the “necessary warnings” to the site.

“Twitter will probably comply, too. Otherwise this is a situation that cannot be sustained,” he said, without elaborating, but he stressed the aim was not to limit social media.

An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said the government had asked Twitter to reveal the identities of users who posted messages deemed insulting to the government or prime minister, or that flouted people’s personal rights.

It was not immediately clear whether Twitter had responded.

Facebook said in a statement that it had not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests over the protests and said it was concerned about proposals Internet companies may have to provide data more frequently.

In the midst of some of the country’s worst political upheaval in years, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has described sites like Twitter as a “scourge,” although senior members of his party are regular users. He has said such websites were used to spread lies about the government with the aim of terrorizing society.

Police detained several dozen people suspected of inciting unrest on social media during the protests, according to local reports.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C., Twitter’s Chief Executive Dick Costolo said on Wednesday that he had been observing the developments in Turkey, but he emphasized that Twitter had played a hands-off role in the political debate.

“We don’t say, ‘Well, if you believe this, you can’t use our platform for that,'” Costolo said. “You can use our platform to say what you believe, and that’s what the people of Turkey … are using the platform for. The platform itself doesn’t have any perspective on these things.”

Turkey’s interior minister had previously said the government was working on new regulations that would target so-called “provocateurs” on social media but there have been few details on what the laws would entail.

One source with knowledge of the matter said the justice ministry had proposed a regulation whereby any Turk wishing to open a Twitter account would have to enter their national identification number, but this had been rejected by the transport ministry as being technically unfeasible.

Turkish users have increasingly turned to encryption software to thwart any ramp up in censorship of the Internet.

Last year, Twitter introduced a feature called “Country Withheld Content” that allows it to narrowly censor tweets considered illegal in a specific country, and it caused some concern among users.

Twitter implemented the feature for the first time in October in response to a request by German authorities, blocking messages in Germany by a right-wing group banned by police.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey announces plans ‘for gas’ and cyber security in face of Gezi protests

RT | June 20, 2013

Turkey has announced plans to purchase 100,000 gas bomb cartridges and launch a central cyber security agency, local media report. This comes after protests across the country which also saw a series of attacks on government websites.

The order for the 100,000 new cartridges will be accompanied by an order for 60 water cannon vehicles, the daily local newspaper Milliyet reported, also stating that the excessive use of gas bomb cartridges meant that Turkish riot police used up some 130,000 units across the space of a mere 20 days.

The protests began in Istanbul, but nationwide demonstrations shortly followed suit, drawing thousands in support of the Gezi Park protesters suffering brutal police repressions. In one of the instances, a horrifying video emerged of a man in a wheelchair being fired at by a similar [water canon] vehicle on June 11.

“The excessive use of force by the police has turned this issue into a security one,” said Galip Dalay, a research assistant with the SETA foundation.

At the same time, Turkish Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Binali Yildirim announced the formation of a new cyber security agency on Thursday. He declared “The Center for Response to National Cyber Threats,” (or USOM) was to be founded on the grounds that cyber-attacks during the Gezi Park protests were a global threat and “likely to increase.”

At the beginning of June, Anonymous hacking group launched #OpTurkey, which took down the Turkish President’s website, along with that of the country’s ruling party, in support of anti-government protests.

Another mid-June attack on over 225 tourist, library, and private business websites was blamed on Kurdish group ColdHackers.

On Thursday, Turkish hacker group Redhack claimed responsibility for all tweets relating to the Gezi protests after the launching of an investigation into some 5 million Gezi Park tweets was announced by the AKP (Justice and Development Party).

“We have posted all tweets and hacked thousands of people’s computers. Don’t take on the innocent ones, we are here,” Redhack wrote on its Twitter account, going on to say that any accounts that appeared to play a role in the organization of resistance were to re-tweet their message, and those that did had been hacked by the group.

Following the claim of responsibility, Twitter users began to announce that they were hacked by Redhack using the hashtag #wewerehackedbyredhack.

After 29 people’s houses were raided and they were subsequently detained for tweets related to the protests on June 5, the group recommended that “users can tell the police that their account was hacked by Redhack. We would take the blame with pleasure.”

Social media activists had been accused of using Twitter to “instigate public hatred and animosity,” according to Turkish media.

PM Erdogan even blamed social media for the unrest stating “there is now a menace which is called Twitter,” in the midst of the upheaval, dismissing the protests as being organized by extreme societal elements. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society,” he said.

Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım stressed however on June 19 that the government was working to “fight against cyber-crime, not to regulate social media,” with Deputy PM Bülent Arınç adding that people were free to communicate on social media but should be deterred from encouraging crime or violence.

As the protests have continued to draw support across the country, the Turkish government has used increasingly retaliatory measures against anyone involved in protests, culminating in threats to deploy the armed forces on Tuesday, the day after using tear gas and water cannons to disperse Monday’s demonstrators. Over 130 were arrested on Thursday alone, and six people have died to date as a result of the unrest, which is not scaling down despite authorities halting proposed renovations of Gezi Park.

“They’ve left branches hanging off trees and water and debris all over the streets” said RT’s Tom Barton in Ankara on Thursday.

Peaceful demonstrations began on May 28 when a group of environmentalists gathered together to campaign against the proposed development of a shopping mall in Istanbul neighborhood’s only remaining park – Gezi Park – next to Taksim Square. The violent suppression after Erdogan announced that he had already made his decision motivated thousands nationwide to display their solidarity.

June 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Erdogan Gets Taste of His Own Medicine?

By Daniel McAdams | LRC | June 1, 2013

After nearly a week of increasing public protests in Turkey, ostensibly over government plans to turn a last bit of green space in Istanbul into another shopping mall, matters became far more serious on Friday. Riot police descended on the protestors with various forms of tear gas (and possibly worse chemical and biological agents — raw sewage?) and water cannon, blasting everyone and everything in sight including non-participants. When they caught protestors, they beat them violently and brutally, as can be seen in this video. Photographs show that police fired tear gas into crowded underground metro stations, leading to panic and worse. Istanbul looks like a war zone.

Today indications are that protests have only increased in number and fury in response to the violence with which they were met yesterday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under increased criticism at home over his enthusiastic support for those fighting to overthrow the government in neighboring Syria. Turkish government support for the rebels came early and has included providing safe havens for the Islamist insurgents and safe passage into Syria from Libya, Yemen, and other countries of the insurgents’ origin.

Erdogan’s stated policy of “zero problems with neighbors” has been turned on its head by his support for the rebels fighting next door. Public dissatisfaction with the Turkish government’s policy of encouraging an Islamist insurgency next door has steadily increased.

The insurgents fighting the Syrian government were still unsatisfied by the level of support they received from their Turkish hosts and they took to false flag attacks in places like Reyhanli and a planned false-flag sarin gas attack on southern Turkey in Adana in attempt to provoke a Turkish (and NATO) military response against Syria.

Suddenly the tables are turned at home.

Faced with a nascent but growing protest movement of his own, Erdogan expresses a very different view toward the people in the street. The Prime Minister strongly supported the “Arab Spring” overthrow in Egypt and supports the overthrow of Assad next door because he said the leaders of these countries did not listen to their people. Just last week he met with President Obama and agreed that “Assad must go.” Now with protesters in Turkey chanting “Erdogan must go” he is singing a different tune. Now “the people” he claimed to speak for — on the streets in Egypt and Syria, at least — were, in Turkey, “with terror, have dark ties,” in his words.

Suddenly “the people” are not so noble when they are calling for his ouster. With the tables turned on Erdogan, he can only demand order! “I call on the protesters to stop their demonstrations immediately,” he thundered yesterday.

Erdogan caught the tiger by the tail and thought he would become a new Ottoman Sultan. Reality bites back hard on the streets of Istanbul and elsewhere. This is far from over.

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Turkey’s Hatay Province, Mossad, CIA spy hub: Turkish MP

Press TV – July 31, 2012

A member of Turkey’s parliament says the country’s Hatay Province on the border with Syria has become a hub for swarms of CIA and Mossad spies infiltrating into Syria freely.

The legislator of the Republican People’s Party, Refik Er-Yilmaz, said that thousands of CIA and Mossad agents are currently in the province and are moving freely in the area, Turkish media reported.

He noted that local people in the province are getting agitated over the presence of the strangers.

Turkish police remain mute spectators as the spies carry various types of identification, Er-Yimaz went on to say.

He also accused the authorities of allowing American and Israeli troopers on Turkish soil without any approval from the parliament.

Er-Yilmaz’s comments came after the deputy of the Republican People’s Party, Osman Faruk Logoglu, on Monday blamed Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party for fomenting the unrest in Syria.

Logoglu criticized the Turkish government for aggravating the situation by sending military forces and vehicles towards the Syrian border.

The former Turkish ambassador to the United States also criticized Turkey’s foreign policy towards its neighbor, saying it has been irrational and unsuccessful.

Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of security forces.

Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment