The explosion in central Istanbul on 13 November that left at least six killed and 81 wounded was met with a strong response by the Turkish government. The broadcasting supervisory authority RTUK enforced a news blackout and suspended coverage of the incident as well as several social media platforms stating public fear and panic as the motives. Experts said that the information blackout is worrisome as it indicates what’s to come in the 2023 presidential election. Turkey blamed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish YPG militia for the attack, which both groups denied. In retaliation, Turkey carried out deadly airstrikes on Kurdish posts in Syria and Iraq. In response to this, a day after Turkey bombed Kurdish militants, rockets were fired from northern Syria in the Turkish border town of Karkamis, killing at least three people. The United States called for de-escalation of tensions in the Turkish-Syrian border, stating that military actions destabilize the region, endanger civilians and undermine ongoing operations against ISIS.
The country’s parliament has passed a new ‘disinformation’ law, which has been criticized to crack down on dissent, particularly as the country prepares for elections in 2023. Proposed by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the new legislation prohibits spreading 'false information about the internal and external security, public order and general wellbeing of the country in order to create anxiety, fear or panic among the public'. The law could see journalists and social media users being jailed for up to three years or receiving up to 50 per cent higher sentences in cases where accounts are anonymous. Additionally, Professor Şebnem Fincancı, President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations and a human rights expert, has been arbitrarily placed in pre-trial detention on “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” following her calls for an investigation into claims that Turkish army used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants. Both developments were widely condemned by human rights groups.