Tolga TANIŞWASHINGTON / Hürriyet
The U.S. Congress resolutions condemning Turkey have been increasing recently with Turkey’s ban on social websites Twitter and YouTube.
Four members of the U.S. House of the Representatives on April 1 prepared a resolution calling on Turkey to remove the bans on the social media, following a condemnation from two U.S. Senators last month over blocking the social media sites and a complaint letter sent to President Barrack Obama.
Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee Anna Eshoo, and three key members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Tom Marino (R-Penn.), Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.), introduced a resolution on April 1 calling on the Turkish government to remove its block on Twitter and YouTube.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are foundational pillars to any functioning democracy,” Eshoo said. “Social media, such as Twitter and YouTube, has enhanced these pillars serving as transformational instruments for social policy change to billions of people who use them on a daily basis. By introducing this resolution, we stand united against actions that restrict Internet freedom in Turkey and around the world.”
“In these modern times, open access to the Internet has become essential for individuals to engage in free expression,” said Marino, who serves as Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. “For this reason, the U.S. Congress must encourage our partners in Turkey to restore access to social media outlets and the Internet as a whole in order to preserve this fundamental civil right. The resolution we are introducing today will send an important message that Turkey not only must restore access to Twitter and YouTube, but more broadly protect its citizens’ rights to express themselves, assemble peacefully, and allow for a free and fair press to flourish.”
“In today’s world, Twitter and other social media outlets are critical vehicles by which millions of ordinary citizens access the political process and engage with their elected officials. By restricting these basic freedoms, the Turkish government is threatening the foundation its democracy rests on,” said Kennedy.
“The Turkish government will need to do more to demonstrate the strength of its democratic institutions. Certainly, a good first step to restore the trust and faith of the Turkish population as well as the international business community will be to reverse the decision to ban social media within Turkey,” said Keating, who serves as Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
The resolution followed another resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson condemning the Turkish government for blocking Twitter and YouTube and restricting freedom of expression on March 27.
One day after the two Senators’ resolution, 34 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have expressed their concerns over moves by the Turkish government restricting social media.
Expressing concerns of the rule of law in Turkey, the letter, opened up for signature in the House by Republican Congressman Luke Messer of Indiana, asked the Obama administration to strongly demand Turkey to protect its’ citizens democratic freedoms and rights.
Apart from the ban on Twitter and YouTube, another reason for the increase of the resolutions against Turkey in the U.S. congress can be seen as upcoming April 24, the day when the Armenian Genocide is globally commemorated.