Internet access has been blocked for 60 hours in eastern Turkey

Mobile internet has been mostly inaccessible in Turkey’s predominately-Kurdish east and southeast following operations by the Turkish Armed Forces in northern Iraq as well as wide scale detentions of suspected PKK members by police across Turkey. Late Friday night Turkish jets launched attacks on camps of the PKK, which has waged an armed separatist war against Turkey for the past 40 years resulting in over 40,000 casualties, and who reached a rocky truce with Ankara in 2013. The airstrikes came at the end of a tumultuous week that began with an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bomb on Monday that killed 32 and injured 104 pro-Kurdish activists in southeast Turkey, and continued with retaliatory attacks against Turkish police and troops by the PKK. Turkey has since been conducting nationwide raid operations and detentions of suspected PKK members. Citizens in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa, Batman, Mardin, Şırnak, Bitlis, Van and Hakkari in particular have had great difficulty accessing the internet on their mobile devices for most of the past 60 hours, though sometimes there is limited access at the lowest level once every 4-5 hours. The restricted internet access was observed nationwide Friday night around the time of the first airstrikes, though it was resolved around Saturday afternoon in western and central Turkey. IT lawyer Mehmet Ali Köksal had told Turkish daily Hürriyet at the time that it’s possible Ankara employed a filter to slow down Facebook and Twitter due to the operations being conducted in Syria and Iraq. In order to follow the communications of the targets, it is possible that the authorities are monitoring internet traffic at a point between the server and the client, which would slow down access, Köksal added. Mobile access to the internet has been severely restricted in the east and southeast ever since midnight Saturday morning. Users who call their GSM companies’ call centers complaining of the problem are told outright that there is no problem with internet access, frustrating local residents even more.