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Censorship Turkey accused of blocking British campaign group's Facebook page

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign's page was taken down on Friday evening after sharing reports on the arrests of opposition MPs

TURKEY was accused of censoring opposition today, after a British Facebook page showing solidarity with jailed MPs in the country was removed.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) Facebook page was taken down on Friday evening after it had posted reports of the arrests and jailing of MPs from Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Group administrators Rosa Gilbert and Mark Campbell also found their personal Facebook profiles had been blocked although they were reinstated after appeal.

The KSC page was also back online today following an appeal, but the original posts had been deleted.

KSC co-secretary Ms Gilbert said she had “lost count” of the number of times her account had been blocked.

“It’s usually for posts I’ve made to the page with photographs including the YPG [People’s Protection Units in Syria] or [jailed PKK leader] Abdullah Ocalan,” she explained.

“But this is the first time that the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign page itself has been shut down. They didn’t say what the offending post was, but I’d only been posting about the arrests and jailing of the HDP MPs.”

If that was the reason, it would be “a new development for Facebook bans,” she said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded social media “the worst menace in society” and Facebook and Twitter are frequently blocked in the country.

Turkey made more “removal requests” to Twitter than any other country in 2016, according to the social media company’s transparency report, with 3,076 requests and has topped the ranking for four years.

The most recent figures show that Turkey made nearly 2,000 requests in the first half of last year and 11 per cent were agreed. 

In 2012, a disgruntled Facebook employee leaked details which were alleged to be a list agreed with Turkey to remove content that can be considered “an attack on [former Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,” “maps of Kurdistan” or any posts that depict or express support for the PKK and Mr Ocalan.

In Britain pages and groups showing solidarity with Kurds, including those from Leeds and Manchester in support of Rojava, have been shut down last year.

Ms Gilbert told the Star: “It’s concerning that Facebook seems to have started a new wave of censorship, with reports of left-wing, human rights and campaign pages being removed, censored or banned.

“It’s not a case of the material being sensitive. It’s a clear case of political censorship.

“We call on transparency as to how the Turkish state and other regimes are able to set out certain limits on free speech.”

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