Turkish court orders closure of independent news site Bianet

A Turkish court has ordered the blocking of news site Bianet. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 August 2019

Turkish court orders closure of independent news site Bianet

  • An article on Bianet said more than 200,000 of its articles would be lost by the shutdown

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court has ordered the blocking of news site Bianet, known for its human rights coverage, on “national security” grounds, according to a decision published on Tuesday.

The decision also targeted 135 other online addresses including YouTube and DailyMotion videos, as well as the Twitter account of Kurdish Member of Parliament Oya Ersoy.

The court in Ankara said the decision — which followed a police request — would “protect ... national security and public order,” without explaining how.

Founded in Istanbul in 1997, Bianet is well-known in Turkey for its articles on human rights, violence against women and its exhaustive coverage of trials linked to freedom of expression. Its articles are published in Turkish, English and Kurdish.

“The decision has not even been transmitted to Bianet, we found out by chance,” the site’s lawyer, Meric Eyboglu, told AFP.

“We were able to confirm that the decision covers the entirety of the website — it will be totally blocked. The closure of the site could happen at any moment,” she said.

An article on Bianet said more than 200,000 of its articles would be lost by the shutdown.

The local chapter of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) decried the decision as “scandalous” and “totally arbitrary,” calling for it to be overturned.

Rights groups have regularly criticized the erosion of free speech in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially since a failed coup attempt in 2016 triggered a massive crackdown on government critics in the press and beyond.

Turkey is the only country apart from China to block Wikipedia, and was ranked 157th out of 180 countries for freedom of the press in the most recent RSF list.


Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

Updated 17 November 2019

Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

  • Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad
  • More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies.
Protesters made a barricade of old cabinets, trash cans and metal sheeting on the bridge while security forces took positions behind blast walls installed to prevent protesters from crossing to the other side. Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.
On Saturday, Iraqi demonstrators reoccupied part of adjacent Sinak Bridge and a nearby tall building in Baghdad that security forces had pushed them away from a week before. They have held a third bridge, Jamhuriya, since October 25.
More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.
In Basra in the south, dozens of protesters burned tires and briefly blocked some roads on Sunday, before police managed to restore control and reopen them, police said.
The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.