Wikipedia publishes open letter to Turkey urging end to access ban
Wikipedia is open for improvement by anyone around the world and should be open to editors in Turkey, the Wikimedia Foundation has stated in a letter addressed to the government of Turkey, where the website has been banned for over one year.
“The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply concerned about recent statements attributed to the Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime, and Communications Ahmet Arslan from [May 18] regarding the blockage of Wikipedia in Turkey,” Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel member Eileen B. Hershenov wrote in the foreword of the open letter published on May 22.
“The Minister’s comments seriously misrepresent Wikipedia’s open editing model and efforts undertaken by the Wikimedia Foundation to lift the block,” the text added.
The letter, a call on Ankara to lift the ban, came after Arslan complained “mistaken information” was not edited.
“The Turkish block is the most expansive government ban ever imposed on Wikipedia, and includes Wikipedias across nearly 300 languages,” Hershenov wrote in the letter.
She added that the alleged “mistaken information” was examined and edited but the ban was still in place.
“The court order imposing the ban is based on two articles in English Wikipedia which the court said damaged the reputation and prestige of the Republic of Turkey,” Hershenov said.
“While we respectfully disagreed with the court’s decision as it applied to the articles at the time the block was imposed, we also wish to point out that those articles have been changed substantially by Wikipedia volunteer editors since the block was imposed and urge you to take that into consideration,” the text added.
Hershenov also said Wikipedia has not violated the Turkish law as Ankara has repeatedly claimed.
“I also want to emphasize that Wikipedia has complied with Turkish law; it has not sought to circumvent the court ruling. The Foundation, for its part, has pursued its legal remedies and will continue to do so,” she wrote.
“Significantly, and as stated above, independent, volunteer Wikipedia editors have made extensive changes to the articles upon which the court order is based,” she added.
“We would like to see the Turkish people able to contribute to the global conversation, including Turkish topics, on Wikipedia,” the letter said.
Wikipedia has been banned for a year in Turkey. The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said on April 29, 2017 that it had blocked access to the site, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security.