You cannot play it down
Last week I wrote about the hashtag #Geziyihatırlat (#RecallGezi). This week, the top hashtag is #BerkinElvanÖlümsüzdür (#BerkinElvanisimmortal). Berkin Elvan is the name of a 15-year-old boy who died on Monday (March 10) after being in a coma for 269 days. He was shot in the head by a gas canister by the police during the Gezi Protests. It is illegal for the police to aim and shoot gas canisters at protesters. However, Turkey is not a country where police can be punished; therefore, they can shoot at anyone with anything, as they please. People all over Turkey are mourning and protesting in his name. The police and government, especially Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, are frequently mentioned by the protesters.
However, on social media, as I wrote before, the government has its own army and they are trying to play down the importance of the protests. They say Berkin was throwing stones at the police, as if it is okay to kill a 15-year-old boy if he throws rocks at fully armed police battalions. They claim it is the same minority that protested in Gezi and Berkin had no resonance in other parts of Turkey. Some even claim the tweets are part of an operation and they are being tweeted outside of Turkey. According to the AKP youth, there is a global conspiracy against their perfect leader.
Thanks to the 140Journos and their Tweet Map that you can find below, we know that it is not so. As you can see from the map, the hashtag is popular everywhere. From every corner of Turkey, people have joined the mourners in Istanbul. This is extremely important on many levels. First of all, it proves that it is not only university students in Istanbul that are contributing, but people all across Turkey.
This shows that whatever the government does, it cannot play this down. Secondly, it is safe to say people all over Turkey are turning to social media for political debates more than before. The government should realize it cannot stop or reverse the role the Internet will play in our political future. The Internet brings information equality and power equality. No government can stop its citizens from wanting more information and power. The only safe road for the government to choose after this point is to make universal human rights its only compass and act accordingly. Anything short of that and their names will ever be found on the Internet in ways no one would like to be remembered.