YouTube, You Who?

Ștefan Cândea
When we decided to go on this tour, we thought that we might find interesting situations to be filmed on the road, upload them on Youtube and embed them in some posts. Even if we were capable of doing it, we could not access Youtube from Turkey; the access to this site is completely blocked. This situation lasts for several years. Presently, around 3.700 other Internet sites are blocked for Turkish users.

The censorship of the Internet for our Turkish neighbours has been a serious problem for more than 10 years. The censored sites posted information against the creator of modern Turkey, Ataturk, insults addressed to the government, or published obscene information or images. The situation is the same for sites containing information regarding minorities, especially those sites related to the Kurds, and also the sites of sexual minorities. (I hope they don’t restrict the access to this blog because of the joke of Petre the fisherman, from Bulgaria!)

A recent report issued by RSF mentions even a stimulation and an increase in the information related to sites that should be censored: 80.000 in may 2009. If at first sites were blocked by a legal order with no juridical grounds, since 2007 Turkey has an Internet Law: Law no. 5651. YouTube was suspended as a consequence of an enormous scandal between Turkey and Greece – after the Greeks posted some short films containing calumniatory images and information regarding Ataturk.

There are ways to trick these restrictions, by using a proxy, but this facility overloads the traffic and blocks some options. In some cases, owners of the sites rapidly open a mirror of the Internet pages, with a different address. Institutions, NGOs, companies, teachers and journalists from Turkey virulently protested against this decision and even filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice to put an end to the censorship. The most vehement objectors requested the withdrawal of the title of European Cultural Capital, granted to the city of Istanbul in 2010 (Milliyet, 17 Februarie 2010).

Today I walked in the streets of Ankara, in the middle of a national holiday. „Youth and Sports Day” celebrates the begining of the modern Turkey liberation fight and the landing of Ataturk at Samsun in 1919. Ataturk’s effigy, in different stances and sizes, is present everywhere. The scenery reminded me of another landing, in the Sierra Maestra mountains, in Cuba, in 1957. As for the flags and portraits – Havana looks identical .

Translated by: Roxana Bocicai