24 July Abolition of Censorship and Internet Law

24 July Abolition of Censorship and Internet Law

24 July Abolition of Censorship and Internet Law


Exactly 114 years ago, the winds of freedom were blowing stronger than ever in the Ottoman Empire, and those who demanded freedom continued to increase the intensity of their protests and protests against the sultanate and sultanate. The modernity that started in the West reached the Ottoman lands albeit late, new concepts triggered social awakening, turned into a rebellion against the existing system, and began to shake the institution of sultanate, which is the continuation of the traditional understanding, at its roots. The power of the sultanate to resist this social mobility and demands decreased day by day, and finally the Second Constitutional Monarchy had to be declared. The winds of freedom were blowing in Babıali, the election decision was taken, the “Meclis-i Mebusan” was opened, and the sultan’s powers were limited.


When the calendar leaves showed July 24, only one day had passed since the declaration of the Constitutional Monarchy; The censorship officers of the Ottoman palace, with their usual habits, knocked on the doors of the newspapers to censor the news in the Babıali. The officers faced a different situation this time; that day, the newspaper staff did not let any of them through the door. The next day, uncensored newspapers met their readers for the first time in the Ottoman Empire.


Years after this date -from 1964- it began to be celebrated as “Press Day” in the Republic of Turkey. After this date, during the military coups of March 12 and September 12, censorship was applied, albeit for a short time, in Turkey, newspapers were confiscated, and writers faced long-term arrests for their writings.


Today, however, we can easily say that there are still serious problems in the field of press freedom in our country and that the debates in this area are more than ever, and we can observe this from the reports released every year by international press organizations:


In the World Press Freedom Index, which is announced every year by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Turkey rose five places in 2022 compared to the previous year, and ranked 149th out of 180 countries. According to RSF, although Turkey has made relative progress in freedom of the press, it has not escaped being behind countries such as Somalia, Angola and Paraguay. Although a relative progress is mentioned in the field of freedom of the press in Turkey according to the figures of the RSF, it is a fact that no improvement can be mentioned considering that it was ranked 98th in 2005.


In some articles of the press law proposal brought to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, there are regulations that will allow the press to be limited with open-ended provisions, and broad expressions that may limit the freedom of press and expression, from press card ownership to the prosecution of news content.


Since these articles will have different meanings depending on the political conjuncture in the country, they will make the journalistic activity almost impossible to carry out, and this is called censorship. I hope that when this article is published, these two articles will be changed or removed from the regulation completely.


The year is 2022, 114 years have passed since the abolition of censorship in the Ottoman Empire, and if we are still talking about censorship today, it must be a sign that we have not made much progress in this area.

This should not be the fate of our press…


Memet Duran Ozkan