10 arrested for ‘insulting’ President Erdoğan during referendum protest and on social media

People protest to controversial referendum results during a rally in Istanbul on April 18, 2017.

Seven people were arrested for insulting Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during protests held in İzmir in the aftermath of an April 16 referendum and three people were arrested over the same charge for their posts in social media in eastern province of Iğdır on Saturday, the Diken news portal reported.

According to the report, police detained at least 21 individuals for protesting referendum results at a park in İzmir’s Bornova district on April 17. Of those, 7 were sent to jail by an İzmir court on accusation of “insulting” Erdoğan and several other high-ranking government members.

Meanwhile, three people were arrested in Iğdır province for insulting President Erdoğan and disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on social media. According to the report nine people were detained by police on April 18 for social media messages. The court released six on judicial probation and sent three to pre-trial detention.

A constitutional amendment that gives extreme and unchecked power to President Erdoğan was approved by a slight majority on April 16, although debates over alleged voting irregularities have yet to ease. The opposition and international observers say as many as 2.5 million voters could have been “manipulated,” effectively changing the result. Thousands of “No” voters have taken to the streets since then.

Scores of people in Turkey have been detained or arrested or are under investigation on allegations of insulting Erdoğan. As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Interior Affairs in December, 3,710 social media users had been investigated in the last six months of 2016, of whom 1,656 were arrested. A total of 1,203 of those investigations resulted in releases on probation. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) April 23, 2017

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