Facebook Blocks Rudaw Due to Posts About Kurdish Workers' Party

Facebook Blocks Rudaw Due to Posts About Kurdish Workers' Party

Rudaw, a Kurdish media network, received backlash from Facebook when the social network blocked posts and deleted pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, a jailed Kurdish leader. He founded the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. 

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by NATO, the European Union, and the United States. It is a Marxist-Lenin group, which desires to lead a worldwide communist revolution. Members attacked civilian and military personnel in Turkey, France, and Belgium. In June 2014, the PKK kidnapped a British civilian. Two Turkish soldiers were killed when the man was rescued

The social media network has a history of censoring anyone who posts pictures of the PKK or Ocalan. From Rudaw:

In 2012, the British Daily Mail showed a leaked Facebook document which revealed the website’s international compliance in blocking sites that supported PKK or Abdullah Ocalan. A Moroccan whistleblower was said to have been paid $1 an hour by a third party company to filter Facebook posts that were in violation of the social networking site’s policies.

Facebook did not provide Rudaw a reason why their page was blocked. Bahoz Sulaiman from London said the site blocked his accounts many times because of posts about Ocalan or the PKK.

“I have had my Facebook accounts blocked on several occasions for posting pictures of PKK or Abdullah Ocalan, which is more than ironic given that groups such as the Islamic State militants can post as many pictures as they want,” he said.  “What is actually scary, is the number of ultra-Turkish nationalists who almost seem to be employed, constantly reporting pictures that Kurdish activists post on Facebook. I don’t understand what community policy I have violated by posting a picture of Abdullah Ocalan? I can post a picture of the notorious [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdad and not get banned, but a picture of a political prisoner will block my account on Facebook.”

Sulaiman might have a point. In 2013, Richard Allan, a corporate official of Facebook, confirmed the site deleted more than ten Kurdish politician pages after they linked to PKK.

“It is against our rules to praise a person or an organization that is listed on the international terrorism list,” he said. “The use of images of flags or other symbols of terrorist organizations is also banned. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), Colombia’s Marxist FARC, Spain’s ETA and in Turkey, the PKK, are among those organizations.”

He said it is hard to decide which content violates the terms and used Colombia’s FARC as an example since the group “abandoned violence and started to hold peace talks.” Yet, FARC broke these promises during the recent Colombian presidential elections. Peace talks between Turkey and the PKK were announced at the end of 2012. Ocalan even called for a ceasefire at the time. From Euronews:

“We have come to a point where we say ‘let the arms silence, opinions and politics speak’. The ignorant modernist paradigm has been deconstructed,” he said. “The blood is dripping from this geography, regardless of Turkish, Kurdish, Laz, Circassian origin. I, myself, am declaring in the witnessing of millions of people that a new era is beginning, arms are silencing, politics are gaining momentum. It is time for our [PKK] armed entities to withdraw from the [Turkish] border. I strongly believe that whoever opens their heart to me, whoever believes in our struggle, will certainly consider the sensitivity of the ongoing process.”