Saturday, February 27, 2010

Censorship of Parliament Email

From Today's Zaman's Ayse Karabat:
Deputies are increasingly concerned as Parliament is filtering deputies' mail and not delivering all their post to them it has been revealed.

Parliament's post distribution office has prevented the delivery of much mail
including the reports of human rights organizations, books from the feminist organizations, magazines from unions, periodicals from the Cihan news agency, congratulatory letters from other deputies and sometimes even wedding invitations.

The criteria for the filtering is not clear and the related persons including Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin and the secretary general of Parliament, Ali Osman Koca, did not answer the calls of Today's Zaman on the subject.

İstanbul deputy Ufuk Uras from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) recently noticed that the periodical from the Human Rights Joint Platform (İHOP) had not arrived. When Uras searched the reasons behind it, he found out that Parliament uses a filtering system for the deputies’ post but the filtering criteria are not clear.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Uras said that last year he discovered that the Turkish Civil Aviation Union (Hava-İş) periodical had not reached him and when he asked about it in Parliament he was told that this was true and there is a filter system in implementation.

“This is censorship, this is scandal. How is it that Parliament prevents the delivery of our mail especially if there is no legal ban on it. This is an arbitrary implementation and not acceptable,” Uras said. He added that on Monday he had had a meeting with Parliament Speaker Şahin regarding the issue but he did not get a satisfactory explanation.

“He told me that this was a practice which had started before his tenure and he will examine it. But he also added that if there was no filtering in place, in some situations the deputies would complain about it,” Uras said.

In January, CDs which contained the outlawed Anatolian Islamic Republic’s constitution (AİCA) had been sent to deputies and was distributed but the parliamentary secretary general’s office later decided to retrieve them. At that time some deputies complained that their rooms had been searched. It was indicated in the answers to Uras’ parliamentary questions that the filtering of deputies’ mail had been in practice since 2004.

The written answer given to Uras by the secretary general’s office of Parliament, accepts the prevention of the distribution of mail and post to deputies. According to the answer, all the post, invitations, mail and letters sent to deputies are distributed only after the approval of the secretary general’s office.

The letter also contains a list of blocked mail, among them magazines from the electrical engineers local administrations; reports from Amnesty International (AI) and the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity with Oppressed People (MAZLUM-DER), a book and a CD from the feminist organization Filmmor; and reports from the Alevi Bektaşi Federation.

The politicians and even the deputies are also censured by Parliament. Some of them are Numan Kurtulmuş, the leader of the Felicity Party (SP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Necla Arat. The holiday congratulation letter from BDP deputy Osman Özçelik was not delivered to the deputies, too.

Levent Korkut from the İHOP said that their periodical is among the post which is filtered out.

“This prevention is not only scandalous from the perspective of the deputies’ individual freedom of communication but it also extremely important from a political point of view. Of course, the deputies are there for making politics and in democracies lobbying is normal but in our Parliament it seems that lobbying is limited according to the wishes of the post distribution system,” Korkut said.
In a largely top-down political system where civil society organizations already have difficulty interacting with the state, this news is particularly troublesome, as well as revealing of just how and to what extent information is controlled.

1 comment:

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Hahahaha, yeah perhaps the next time they raise their hands about some intrusive internet law they'll think twice. Speaking of which, if this is done to their regular mail I'd hate to imagine what's being done to their e-mail and web access.