Turkey has broken out in full-blown civil unrest after police used excessive force in response to peaceful protests over the demolition of Gezi Park. It seems that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan still hasn’t learned his lesson about trying to suppress freedom of speech. Erdogan has ordered a media blackout of all protest coverage in the interest of national security.
Article 3 of Turkey’s Press Law states:
The press is free. This freedom of information, dissemination, criticism, interpretation, and includes the right to create works.
The use of freedom of the press in accordance with the requirements of a democratic society, the reputation or rights of others, public health and morals, national security, public order, public security and the protection of the territorial integrity of the State, or the disclosure of secrets, crime prevention, may be limited in order to ensure the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
So-called news networks like CNN Turkey are airing unrelated programs like penguin documentaries, which is being satirized with penguin memes. Actor Sermiyan Midyat appeared on CNN Turkey wearing a penguin t-shirt.
Ironically, it seems that the only one with journalistic integrity is Ali Ihsan Varol, game show host of Kelime Oyunu (Word Game), which is similar to classic American game shows like Password and Pyramid. Contestants are given clues and attempt to guess the corresponding words, which in this case were subversive. For instance, “democracy breather” was the clue for “gazmaskesi” (gas mask), a reference to the liberal use of tear gas by police. A rough translation of the entire show is available on technosociology.
The act of defiance didn’t go unnoticed by Erdogan. The host has been suspended and the show is in reruns.
“The situation is a bit confused at the moment,” Ihsan Varol told Hurriyet daily. “My time slot has been given away.”