HRW slams Turkey’s social media crackdown

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the Turkish government for its crackdown on social media, especially after the invasion of Afrin. 

In a statement, HRW said that the crackdown violates the right to peaceful expression and that the “absurd” cases against activists 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.”

“This most recent social media crackdown has targeted a wide range of people, affecting journalists; human rights activists; politicians, including four members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party; members of nongovernmental organizations; academics; construction workers; physicians; and high school and university students” HRW’s report read. 

HRW examined some cases of criminal investigations over tweets related to Afrin and said, “Human Rights Watch believes that some of the police raids and criminal investigations are being used as a form of punishment rather than out of genuine belief that criminal behavior has occurred. Even if a case does not go to trial or ends in acquittal, people labeled as terrorism suspects face adverse consequences due to police investigations and criminal proceedings, including possible loss of employment and social exclusion.”