On Monday 21 April, I will be in a courtroom in Izmir, observing the second hearing in the ‘Twitter case’ against 29 men and women who are being accused of ‘inciting the public to break the law’. Their crime? Sending out tweets during the first few days of the Gezi Park protests last June. If found guilty, they could face up to 3 years in prison.
During the protests that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and Taksim Square and quickly spread around the country in June 2013, social media played a central role, allowing protestors to share information on where police were breaking up the protests or to request medical support or information on individuals whose whereabouts were unclear. With the mainstream media failing to report the events, social media platforms also allowed the public to find out what was going on in the streets.