The Wikimedia Foundation Asks The European Court Of Human Rights To Rule Against Turkey's Two-Year Block Of All Wikipedia Versions

from the probably-won't-do-much,-but-should-annoy-Gollum dept

As numerous Techdirt stories attest, the Turkish authorities — and the country’s notoriously thin-skinned President, Recep Erdogan — are unwilling to accept even the slightest criticism of their actions, from any quarter. That has led to huge numbers of Turkish citizens being thrown in prison on the flimsiest pretexts, as well as many Internet sites being blocked in a similarly arbitrary way. Perhaps the most significant digital victim of Turkey’s paranoia is Wikipedia. In April 2017, every language version of the site was blocked under a law that allows the authorities to ban access to Web sites deemed “obscene or a threat to national security“. According to The Atlantic, Wikipedia was blocked because it refused to take down an article that claimed Turkey was “aligned with various terrorist organizations“.

For the last two years, all Wikipedia sites have remained blocked in Turkey. Now, the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia, has had enough:

Today, we proceed to the European Court of Human Rights, an international court which hears cases of human rights violations within the Council of Europe, to ask the Court to lift the more than two-year block of Wikipedia in Turkey. We are taking this action as part of our continued commitment to knowledge and freedom of expression as fundamental rights for every person.

This is not a step we have taken lightly; we are doing so only after continued and exhaustive attempts to lift the block through legal action in the Turkish courts, good faith conversations with the Turkish authorities, and campaigns to raise awareness of the block and its impact on Turkey and the rest of the world.

The Wikimedia Foundation says that the block was applied because of two articles, not one, but gives no details. In its application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — not to be confused with the better-known Court of Justice of the European Union — it argues:

the blanket ban of Wikipedia violates fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention. Moreover, these freedoms have been denied to the more than 80 million people of Turkey who have been impacted most directly by the block, and to the rest of the world, which has lost the nation’s rich perspectives in contributing, debating, and adding to Wikipedia’s more than 50 million articles.

Even if the Wikimedia Foundation wins its case, there is not much that the ECHR can do to force Turkey to comply with a decision that the block should be lifted. It’s true that Turkey is a long-standing party to the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf), and that the fundamental rights provided by the Convention are guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution. But given the track-record of the Turkish authorities of ignoring all outside calls and criticism, we can probably expect more of the same if the ECHR finds against Turkey. On the plus side, this kind of high-profile tut-tutting from arguably the top human rights court in the world would doubtless annoy Erdogan hugely, so there is that.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: wikimedia foundation, wikipedia

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Wikimedia Foundation Asks The European Court Of Human Rights To Rule Against Turkey's Two-Year Block Of All Wikipedia Versions”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
10 Comments
MathFox says:

Turkish EU membership?

A verdict of the ECHR against Turkey’s block of Wikipedia will be seen as the EU as another strike against Erdogan when evaluating the human rights situation for a potential EU membership of Turkey.
I see no change in the near future because for Erdogan staying in power has a higher priority than the economic welfare or Turkish people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Today, we proceed to the European Court of Human Rights … to ask the Court to lift the more than two-year block of Wikipedia in Turkey.

we are doing so only after continued and exhaustive attempts to lift the block through legal action in the Turkish courts, good faith conversations with the Turkish authorities, and campaigns to raise awareness of the block and its impact on Turkey and the rest of the world.

So it seems Wikipedia has more than enough money to keep its doors open, counter to the claims made during their annual fundraising efforts. I’d bet if people knew they were contributing to a legal campaign to get Wikipedia unblocked in Turkey they’d have gotten a lot fewer contributions. I know I won’t be contributing again if that’s how they spend the money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why is it so hard to believe? I’ve donated multiple times (at least 3 that I can recall) because Wikipedia is a valuable resource I don’t think we can afford to lose and I’ve referred to it countless times. But if they can afford to fight an undoubtedly expensive legal battle to get Wikipedia unblocked in Turkey of all places they surely aren’t strapped for cash and the doors will remain open for quite some time. That they’ve repeatedly claimed they can barely afford to keep the lights on in order to solicit donations was clearly a lie. I don’t care to donate to liars and if they fold up someone else will take their place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

They’ve already lost it and there’s nothing Wikipedia is likely able to do about it. And no, I don’t really care whether Turkey has access to Wikipedia.

The altruistic choice isn’t between "Everything for everyone!" and "Nothing for anyone!". Do you donate to every charity on Earth?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...