Turkish authorities are investigating people who allegedly insulted state officials or incited riots on social media, country’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on 27 June, in a sign the government is trying to punish people particupating in the protests that are taking place since the beginning of the month.
According to Bozdag, the government will also submit to Parliament a proposal to further limit the military’s powers, in an attempt to reaffirm Turkey’s democratic values, which have been damaged by the protests as he claimed.
The Aksam newspaper reported that local authorities provided Istanbul prosecutors with a list of more than thirty names of people who allegedly posted insults mentioning Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Bozdag didn’t reveal the content of the posts and claimed that “crimes determined as such by the law don’t change if they are carried out through Facebook, Twitter or through other electronic means.” “No one has the right to commit crimes under the rule of law,” he added.
Anti-government demonstrations began this month, after the Turkish government announced plans to redevelop one of the last remaining central public parks in Istanbul on 31 May. But the pacific protest was transformed into violent riots, where tear gas and water cannons were used against citizens.
Erdogan blamed Twitter and social networks for spreading rumours and lies during the clashes in Istanbul. According to him, “social media are a menace for societies” and, two weeks ago, he stated that a “plot” was behind the protests.