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Turkish journalists protest Internet ban with DJ set

ISTANBUL ? Hürriyet Daily News | 5/27/2010 12:00:00 AM | ÖZGÜR ÖĞRET

The Turkish government should cease imposing bans on the free use of the Internet, a collection of journalists at a unique party declared Wednesday night in Istanbul.

The Turkish government should cease imposing bans on the free use of the Internet, a collection of journalists at a unique party declared Wednesday night in Istanbul.

“Turkey needs an Internet law that does not limit freedoms and does not decide on its own what is useful for people and what is not,” said Kaan Sezyum, a columnist for the daily Radikal, who acted as one of the DJs at a party in Beyoğlu’s Ghetto Club on Wednesday.

The party, titled “Set My Internet Free,” was organized by Ghetto and the Information Technology Foundation of Turkey, or TBV. Ghetto founder Lorris Mizrahi said he came up with the idea when he could not explain to his daughter, who is interested in biology, why some websites on evolution are banned in Turkey.

“A minister who is responsible for trains, should not be responsible for the Internet,” Sezyum said, criticizing Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım and his scope of responsibility. “He is a minister who put a 3G telephone to his ear for his first use of the phone.”

YouTube has been banned in Turkey since Jan. 17, 2008, after two courts decided that videos on the site were insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. Since then, it has been reported that YouTube was communicating with the Turkish government, but nothing has resulted from those meetings.

Meanwhile, access to the website of scientist Richard Dawkins, richarddawkins.net, is also restricted in Turkey, while similar bans have been placed on Google webblogs and Dailymotion.

A Turkish court can ban a complete website merely because of a single piece of content while other sites like YouTube are banned by several court decisions, instead of just one.

Sevin Okyay of Radikal, who also DJed at the party, said fear was responsible for the Internet bans. “If you try to eliminate every application that criticizes you, you won’t be able to find anything to eliminate in the end.”

However, she also said the bans are not only due to oppression from the government. “As finding the real criminal is almost impossible, [bans] sometimes come from despair.”

Sezyum on the other hand, believes the party was a good start, but it would be better if there was a larger open air festival.  

Eyüp Can, editor-in-chief for the daily Referans, Sedat Ergin, columnist for the daily Hürriyet, Yavuz Baydar, a reader representative from the daily Sabah, Okyay and Sezyum were the DJs from the press, along with TBV President Faruk Eczacıbaşı.

Visuals fitting the theme of the night accompanied the DJs while they played.

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