Jail for tweeting in Turkey, Bahrain, etc.

This video is called Kuwaiti Twitter users face jail time for anti-Emir messages – FOCUS – 06/13/2013.

From ThinkProgress in the USA:

How To Go To Jail For Tweeting

By Will Freeman on May 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

You no longer have to pen a controversial political manifesto railing against the powers that be to find yourself behind bars. In certain autocratic countries, and even some democracies, now all it takes is an “insulting” tweet about the government — expressed in under 140 characters, of course.

A columnist in Turkey learned this lesson the hard way when he was sentenced to 10 months in prison on Monday for an offensive tweet he claims was the result of a typo. Önder Aytaç, a journalist with the opposition newspaper Taraf, claims he accidentally added a ‘k’ to the end of the Turkish word for “my chief” in a tweet about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s role in closing down private schools, turning the word into the Turkish equivalent of “screw you.”

According to a Turkish defamation law that makes it a crime to insult “public officials during the course of their job,” the Prime Minister pressed charges and won. In March, Turkey blocked Twitter altogether out of fear of its potential as a platform for dissent. The highest court in Turkey on Thursday declared that blocking Twitter entirely was unconstitutional, but the laws that sent Aytaç to jail remain on the books.

Last Saturday, another Twitter dissident, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab, was released after spending two years in prison in Bahrain. The Gulf country receives U.S. military and financial support despite regularly silencing pro-democracy protesters like Rajab.

While Rajab was officially charged with the vague crime of “disturbing public order,” his use of Twitter to express his political sentiments led to a three month jail sentence in 2012 and contributed to the case that put him behind bars for two years. Just two weeks ago, six more activists received one year sentences for tweeting comments deemed “insulting to the king.” Perhaps the most draconian was a Bahrain court’s sentencing of 17-year-old high school student Ali al-Shofa to a year in jail in 2012.

Other Gulf states have similarly convicted Twitter users for petty offenses. Kuwait has convicted at least eight people for posting tweets “offensive” to Kuwait’s emir over the past two year, including dishing out a five year prison sentence followed by permanent exile to a 30 year old activist Abdullah Fairouz Abdullah Abd al-Kareem in January. In the United Arab Emirates, journalist Abdullah Al-Hadidi is serving 10 months in jail for criticizing a trial against opponents of the regime.

The government crack down on tweets isn’t limited to just Turkey and the Middle East. In Japan, 49-year old single mother and journalist Mari Takenouchi is facing one month of jail time after criticizing a nuclear lobbyist in the wake of the 2012 Fukushima disaster. Korean photographer Park Jung-geun received a 10-month term for retweeting content posted by an account run by the North Korean government. And last year, the conservative government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy passed a new law that has made organizing non-state approved demonstrations through social media punishable with heavy fines and jail time.

“Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users’ right to speak freely,” according to a company blog post by Twitter written in 2011. Apparently, however, this mandate does not extend to countries where governments flinch at the slightest criticism.

Will Freeman is an intern with Think Progress.

Bahrain’s Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa recently stated that anyone making “false allegations” of torture will face legal actions. This statement raises a number of concerns: here.

Bahrain Weekly Update – May 29: Just-Released Rajab Criticizes Worsening Rights Situation; Congressional Staff Delegation Meets Bahrain Defense Force: here.

While Bahrain’s serious rights abuses have provoked condemnation from many governments around the world, the UK’s response has been both feeble and ineffective: here.

TURKISH soldiers fired tear gas and water cannon today at Kurds protesting against plans to build military barracks in Diyarbakir province: here.

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Turkish regime kills mourner in Istanbul

This video from Turkey is called The Moment when Uğur Kurt was hit in head in Istanbul‘s Okmeydanı.

This video from Turkey is called The Moment when Uğur Kurt was hit in head in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı- 2.

From Hurriyet Daily News in Turkey:

VIDEO: The moment when a mourner [about the mine disaster in Turkey] was shot during clashes in Istanbul

One person attending a funeral procession has been killed after being shot during clashes between police and a group of demonstrators in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood on May 22.

Security camera footage has emerged showing the moment when the mourner, who was standing with a group of others in front of a cemevi, an Alevi place of worship, fell on the floor after being shot in the head.

The victim, identified as Uğur Kurt, can then be seen being attended to by those around him.

Police allegedly used live ammunition after a group of protesters set alight an armored vehicle. Photos showing police officers holding firearms circulated on social media, and Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu also confirmed that guns had been used during the clashes, vowing to investigate the incident.

Kurt has been rushed to the hospital but died despite medical intervention.

Ten days after the Soma mining massacre, in which 301 miners were killed, the Turkish government continues its brutal crackdown on protesters: here.

In the wake of bloody clashes that left two people dead and several wounded in the working class neighborhood of Okmeydani in central Istanbul, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a speech Friday to the party faithful of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that seemed designed to provoke wider violence and lay the groundwork for a more intense crackdown: here.

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