İstanbul Dispatches Is No Longer!

Sad though that title is, it’s been very much a reality for the last two years. As John Lennon once sang, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. So it’s about time I officially confirmed this ole blog of mine finished. Thanks to all those who read, supported, and generally found my rather patchy output here worthwhile. That said, I hope to return to some form of blogging on Turkey at some time. Meanwhile, I’m still tweeting news and views over on Twitter, so please do follow me there.

The Common Pain Of The Armenians And The Turks

ONE AMAZING DOCUMENTARY from Al Jazeera World, which takes a fresh, balanced approach to the brutal tragedy of the Armenians in 1915. Director Ramazan Mut has eschewed the issue in black and white rhetoric in favour of historical context, dating back centuries before what many call genocide wiped out a distinct Ottoman community.

The focus also rests on the present day, highlighting the three main actors in this bitter dispute raging for a near century: the republics of Turkey and Armenia, and the influential Armenian Diaspora.

Aptly titled “Common Pain”, if there’s one scene that nails the essence of the tragedy, it’s the prescient TV interview with Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, predating his assassination by Turkish ultranationalists:

We are two sick communities, the Turks and the Armenians. Their relationship is interwoven. The Armenians are experiencing a great trauma because of the Turks, and the Turks experiencing paranoia because of the Armenians. We are both clinical cases.

Who is going to cure us? Is it a decision of the French or American Senate? Who will provide the prescription? Who is our doctor?

The Armenians are the doctor of the Turks, and the Turks are the doctor of the Armenians. Besides that, there is no doctor or cure. Dialogue is the only prescription. They are each other’s doctor.

Turkish Blogger Faces 2 Years In Jail For ‘Insulting’ PM Erdoğan

IT’S BEEN A BUSY year already for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Strutting around on the world stage, the world leader who was one of the first to tell embattled Egyptian President Mubarak to “take a different step” appears to be doing an entirely different dance at home. The month of January alone saw football fans booing his arrival at a newly opened stadium on the 15th, followed by the PM swiftly staging his own protest and walking out. Around the same time came a very open spat with the editor-in-chief of a usually supportive liberal daily, resulting in an enraged Erdoğan suing said editor. Then on the 21st, the trial of an Istanbul theatre group, mostly students, kicked off with the central complaint revolving around their performance of a song titled “The Tayyip Blues”. And now February brings the news, published in leading Turkish daily Radikal on the 5th, that the latest target of Erdoğan’s ire appears to be a Turkish blogger; or, more specifically, a post the young blogger wrote last September, which not long ago floated silently around the vastness of the World Wide Web. Continue reading “Turkish Blogger Faces 2 Years In Jail For ‘Insulting’ PM Erdoğan”

Climbing Over The Great Firewall

FOR THOSE INTERNET users based in Turkey wishing to access any WordPress (WP) blog a useful workaround has appeared. The mysterious and bilingual GreatFirewallofTurkey.com has set up a proxy service to enable WP visitors to bypass the block. All the visitor has to do is replace the word “press” with the word “prexy.” For example, “istanbuldespatch.wordpress.com” becomes “istanbuldespatch.wordprexy.com.” The only difference visually is that a “wordprexy” logo appears in the top right hand corner of the screen, linking to the Great Firewall site, where an explanation is at hand on what they’ve done: Continue reading “Climbing Over The Great Firewall”

Déjà Vu: YouTube Blocked In Turkey Again

CENSORSHIP APPEARS TO BE rapidly increasing in Turkey as YouTube was blocked for the second time yesterday, reports MidEast Youth, just six months after a similar move by the Turkish courts. Back in March of this year, it was due to videos posted by Greek users posting videos deemed to have insulted the country’s founder, Atatürk. This time around, a single citizen from the eastern city of Sivas complained that the site was hosting videos that apparently insult both sides of the Turkish political divide — from recently elected President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, both of the Islamic-rooted AK Party, to, again, the Republic’s founder as well as the Turkish Armed Forces. All of these figures are protected by the Turkish Penal Code. Continue reading “Déjà Vu: YouTube Blocked In Turkey Again”

‘We Will Never Limit Turkish Bloggers’ Freedom of Speech’

WORDPRESS (WP) BOSS MATT Mullenweg has said in a recent interview that he would never limit the right of Turkish bloggers to express themselves. The show of defiance comes amidst the continuing “firestorm of criticism,” as Internet observers have described it, aimed at the ongoing block of WP on Turkish soil. In the interview, published online in Turkish on the Turkish Internet industry portal turk.internet.com, the 23-year-old WP founder developer estimates that there are some 20 to 30 thousand bloggers in Turkey affected by the ban. Turkish and expat bloggers, as well as their regular readers, have been greeted with the message that the entire WP site “has been suspended in accordance with [court] decision no: 2007/195,” since the private-but-monopoly Turk Telekom telephone company enforced the court order over two weeks ago. Continue reading “‘We Will Never Limit Turkish Bloggers’ Freedom of Speech’”