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 An Open Letter to Facebook

 Opinion — Analysis   
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


An Open Letter to Facebook  24.2.2012 
By Hawar Jamal Ameen 

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The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Reuters

Photo: Facebook

February 24, 2012

In a recently leaked document outlining Facebook's "Abuse Standards Violations" one section of this bizarre document mentions that violations include " All attacks on Ataturk (visual and text), maps of Kurdistan (Turkey), Burning Turkish Flags, PKK support and depiction, Abdullah 'APO' related material". This document also prohibits the use of the word 'Kurdistan' as page titles and names of individuals.

Dear Mark,

As I am sure you are aware, recently a copy of your abuse standards violations were leaked to a national newspaper in the UK. This in itself should not have caused any concern and in fact I welcome your efforts to monitor abuses on your site.

In an age of free media where people can connect with others around the world we need systems in place to stop discrimination, abuse, exploitation, bullying and we also need the people to police this. So I would like to congratulate you on your effort to stop this from happening.

The reason I am writing however is to get an explanation regarding the section titled “IP blocks and International Compliance”.

This section seems almost too bizarre to be true and stands out amongst the whole document as the strangest policy clearly targeted against an ethnic minority and for the promotion of one individual and nationalist identity. I am not going to make this correspondence and issue of politics even though as you may be aware the Kurds in Turkey (as well as Iraq, Iran and Syria) have been denied basic human rights as basic as the right to speak their language. I am not going to make this an issue of personality even though Ataturk is responsible for the genocide of many Armenians and Kurds, or Abdullah Ocallan who uses any means at his disposal to progress the rights and freedoms of his people (much in the same way as Nelson Mandela in his early years who was branded a terrorist by the world). I am not going to make this a humanitarian issue even though you may or may not be aware of the Kurdish struggle against oppression where hundreds of thousands of Kurds in Iraq are stillmissing from Saddams era, the gassing of Halabja, the tens of thousands killed by the Turkish government, the imprisonment of children as young as 10 by Turkey for speaking Kurdish and a whole list of other oppressive policies. If you are not aware of these struggles please research the subject or I will be happy to explain in greater detail.

Instead I am going to make this an issue of logic, common sense and rationality and if there is a logical reason why the Kurdish ethnicity has been singled out by your policy as some sort of insulting and abusive swear word then please explain as I and many others are finding it hard to come up with one. The Tibetan people have been fighting against the Chinese government to gain basic human rights for decades but there is no mention of banning the word “Tibet” in your policy or abusive pictures of Chairman Mao or the current government. Hitler, Saddam, Stalin and a whole array of other murderous dictators are not mentioned. Countless people around the world are abused, victimized and oppressed by their governments but you have not mentioned them. It seems that the Kurdish (and only Kurdish) people now have to add Facebook to the list of oppressors.

As a Kurd I may be biased but I am not asking you to support an independent Kurdish state or for you to allow racist abusive behavior towards Turkey or it’s people but your policy has clearly been written or heavily influenced by a Turkish individual or group that specifically promotes Turkish nationalism and the oppression of the Kurdish ethnic minority. In Iraq the Kurdistan Regional Government is an internationally recognized region within Iraq. Dozens of consulates are spread around the region and many more countries recognize Kurdistan as a region within Iraq and yet not by Facebook. If the Kurdistan Regional Government wanted to open a page in its own name it would not be able to because of your block. You have denied an identity to a group of people that the free thinking world has accepted. And what’s more, the most personal impact of your policy denies individuals the right to call themselves by their own name on Facebook. Kurdistan is a popular name amongst Kurdish Boys and Girls and now thousands of them are learning why they can’t call themselves by their own name, why they are not allowed to use their own identity because you have deemed it a dirty swear word. That Facebook denies people the right to an identity is ironic to say the least. I urge you, on a matter of principle, logic, sensibility and common sense to rethink this policy and remove the block on my and millions of other people’s identity.

Once again I commend your work in trying to safeguard people from abuse on Facebook.

Yours Sincerely,

Hawar Jamal Ameen

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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