Police disperse protest against Internet law in Istanbul’s Taksim

Police disperse protest against Internet law in Istanbul’s Taksim

Police disperse protest against Internet law in Istanbul’s Taksim

Yet another demonstration in Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, a spot where activists frequently gather to stage protests, was met with police intervention on the evening of Feb 8. AP photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters Feb. 8 in central Istanbul during a march against a recently approved law increasing state control over the Internet.

Hundreds of people gathered near Galatasaray Square on the İstiklal Avenue upon a call from social media to protest against the new curbs, which have been criticized by a wide-range of institutions and human rights groups over the last week.

Video footage showed police using pressurized water on protesters on İstiklal Avenue, while some police officers also fired tear gas. Unconfirmed reports said dozens of protesters were detained.

The Internet law approved by Parliament Feb. 6, gives the authority to black access to web pages to the head of Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and is widely seen as a government move to increase the control over the citizens’ online activities.

Earlier Feb. 8, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently rejected criticism of the new curbs. "These regulations do not impose any censorship at all on the Internet.... On the contrary, they make it safer and freer," Erdogan told a crowd of several thousand supporters in Istanbul, denying that authorities would now have access to Internet users' personal information.

"Never. It is out of the question that people's private data will be recorded," said Erdoğan.

Opposition parties, as well as Turkey’s leading business organization TÜSİAD and international organizations, have called on President Abdullah Gül to veto the bill.