HRW: Turkish gov’t has reached ‘new low’ with social media crackdown

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(photo: hrw)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the Turkish government for prosecuting large numbers of people in recent weeks over social media posts protesting Turkey’s military operation in northwestern Syria, saying the crackdown violates the right to peaceful expression and that the “absurd” cases should be dropped.

“Detaining and prosecuting people for tweets calling for peace is a new low for Turkey’s government,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Turkish authorities should respect people’s right to peacefully criticize any aspect of government policy, including military operations, and drop these absurd cases.”

Turkish authorities have detained and prosecuted large numbers of people in recent weeks over social media posts criticizing Turkey’s military operation in the northwest Syrian district of Afrin.

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, authorities detained 648 people between Jan. 20 and Feb. 26, over social media posts criticizing Turkey’s military operations in Afrin. Authorities held another 197 people for expressing criticism in other forms, including street protests or expressing solidarity with protesters on social media.

The Interior Ministry has indicated that more criminal investigations have been opened since the end of February.

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