People walk under election posters for President Tayyip Erdogan, Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum and ruling AKP party flags in Istanbul in February. (Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas)

CPJ, 21 other groups, call on social media firms to resist censorship ahead of Turkey elections

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 21 rights groups and journalists’ organizations on Monday in a joint statement calling on social media platforms to prioritize the free flow of information and ideas, and to resist government censorship ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey.

“As important country-wide local elections loom, the Turkish authorities are once again intensifying efforts to control social media platforms through use of the restrictive internet law, demanding the blocking of content critical of the government,” the joint statement said and made a call of unity: “Social media platforms should take a firm, united stance against formal and informal pressure targeting expression protected under international human rights law and adopt heightened transparency in the face of increasing online censorship.”

The municipal elections are a critical test for the opposition considering the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its partners’ victory in parliamentary and presidential elections last year. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP wants to win back the metropolitan municipalities of Turkey’s capital Ankara and biggest city Istanbul from the opposition.

Read the joint statement here.