Wikimedia Foundation Chief Executive Officer/Updates/Wikimedia Foundation update regarding block in Turkey - August 2017
- This message, "Wikimedia Foundation update regarding block in Turkey", was posted on Turkish Wikipedia by Katherine Maher on 30 August 2017.
Dear members of the Turkish Wikimedia community,
As you know, in late April Turkish authorities blocked online access to Wikipedia in all languages across Turkey. This represents one of the most severe blocks ever imposed by any government in the Wikimedia movement’s history. The block of Wikipedia in Turkey denies access to the world’s richest and most comprehensive free encyclopedia for around 80 million people in Turkey. It also denies the rest of the world access to the perspective and knowledge of citizens of Turkey.
Since April, we have been following the situation closely, communicating with known community members, and working with the resources and points of contact we have within the Turkish regulatory authority which instituted the ban. Our efforts have had a single purpose: lifting the ban while maintaining our commitment to the Wikimedia values of verifiability, neutrality, and freedom of information.
We have done much of this quietly, but we feel it is time to share more information with you, the community in Turkey.
We stand with you
To begin with, I want to be clear that the Wikimedia Foundation and the global Wikimedia community fully support the volunteer community in Turkey. We will continue to work with you to restore access for the tens of millions of students, businesses, researchers, scholars, and others who can no longer participate in the free and open exchange of culture and knowledge.
The leadership of the Foundation, and I personally, have been closely monitoring this situation. We remain deeply troubled and saddened by efforts to deny the people of Turkey free and unrestricted access to the knowledge of the world. This block harms more than the people of Turkey: it also denies the world the unique perspectives and knowledge of residents of Turkey on the Wikimedia projects. We miss your voices, perspectives, cultures, heritage, and history.
Your contribution matters
For many years, Wikimedia volunteer editors, in Turkey and around the world, have been constantly building and improving articles. You make good-faith efforts to cover all sides of all subjects, even controversial subjects, consistent with the Wikipedia values and our policies of neutrality and reliable sourcing. This is an utterly unique process in the world. No other internet platform or knowledge community works in this way, connecting so uniquely with the knowledge and creativity of the peoples in dozens of nations and hundreds of languages.
Our movement is global and interconnected -- censorship in one part of the world is felt by us all. This runs counter to our shared mission of free knowledge for every single person. When Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recognized the Wikimedia community in Turkey at the annual Wikimania conference in Montreal, Canada this month, he was met with applause from an audience of nearly 1,000 international Wikimedians.
You are all very much in our thoughts.
What the Wikimedia Foundation is doing
Restoring access to Wikipedia in Turkey is a top priority for the Wikimedia Foundation. Shortly after learning of the block, we assembled a working group at the Foundation with members of our Communications, Community Engagement, and Legal departments. They have been meeting nearly every day since the block was put in place, with the sole goal of restoring access to Wikipedia in Turkey, in a manner consistent with our values. The Foundation's Leadership Team and Board of Trustees have also been closely following the situation and supporting the working group's activities.
Our efforts have included hiring very experienced Turkish legal counsel, hearing from members of the Turkish Wikimedia community, consulting with local and international experts on digital and media issues in Turkey, and monitoring and where appropriate responding to press stories. We are also pursuing appropriate actions through legal means: We immediately challenged the block in the Turkish lower courts, and continue those efforts today with a filing in the Turkish Constitutional Court to lift the block.
We have also worked to develop an open line of communications with the appropriate officials at BTK, the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority. These conversations have focused on helping officials understand how Wikipedia works, how it differs from other online community platforms, and the value Wikimedia can bring in sharing knowledge freely around the world.
The Foundation will continue to advocate for everyone's right to read and share verifiable information, in perpetuity, and without restriction. We intend to persist in these efforts as long as they are open and constructive.
I wish I could say that I knew if and when the block would be lifted. However, we recognize that these situations are often uncertain, and different stakeholders have differing perspectives on what would resolve the current impasse. Although we know that we are only one of the current issues in front of the Turkish authorities, we will continue to urge them to make restoring access to Wikipedia a priority, particularly with the upcoming start of school and academic terms.
In the meantime, we remain committed to supporting the Wikimedia community in Turkey, maintaining open lines of dialogue with the authorities, and offering educational information about how Wikimedia works. We will continue to work to lift the ban, in accordance with Wikimedia values. We maintain our opposition to censorship, and support for freedom of information and expression, everywhere in the world. We will continue to share information with you all about the situation as it progresses.
I know that many of you would like to get involved with removing the block. For now, we encourage that the focus of the editing community remains on contributing to our core mission of making knowledge freely available. Wikimedia is at its most compelling when it is as rich and informative as possible. Our most powerful advocacy for the importance of free knowledge continues to be the positive work of spreading knowledge and culture to everyone who seeks it.