The extent to which governments and central banks can effectively hinder the widespread adoption of Bitcoin is a topic of intense debate in our community. 

While we acknowledge that there is no way to prevent this technology from realizing its full potential and fundamentally reshaping the world, the extent to which established powers can delay the inevitable remains to be seen.

Turkey serves as a significant example of how determined adversaries employ effective tactics to distract citizens and impede the widespread adoption of Bitcoin.

During our expedition in the country, we previously discussed the Turkish government's actions in April 2021 when they introduced a regulation that not only prohibited cryptocurrency mining but also barred citizens from utilizing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a means of payment.

They are effectively treated as speculative assets; they can be bought, resold, and held, but not used to purchase goods and services.

The news at the time was reported by all major Bitcoin and crypto sites, but it was also given great prominence in the Turkish national media. The ruling government strategically utilized an extensive media campaign to ensure that news of the ban reached the entire population.

Furthermore, a complete embargo on news related to Bitcoin has been enforced on television stations and major national newspapers, with every report subject to strict filtering, pervasive censorship, and approval only for propaganda articles aimed at disinformation and manipulating public opinion, rather than serving the public.

Topics such as Bitcoin, inflation, and the government's executive branch's failure to revive the economy are not thoroughly discussed; instead, they are approached in a highly partisan manner. 

This should not be surprising, given Turkey's dismal ranking of 165th out of 180 countries in the 2023 Press Freedom Index, published by the NGO Reporters Without Borders, which monitors levels of press freedom and free expression for journalists globally—placing it just one position below Russia under the leadership of Tsar Vladimir Putin.

This frontal attack on Bitcoin has two detrimental outcomes. Firstly, a significant portion of the population is discouraged from embracing Bitcoin in their professional lives due to the fear of potential fines or worse. 

Secondly, the focus on portraying Bitcoin as primarily an asset has led to the growth of centralized exchanges and trading platforms, hindering the development of entities that emphasize Bitcoin's non-speculative aspects in the country.

It is at this point in our story that a couple of young local lawyers, Kaan Beylen and Ece Özlü Beylen, enter the scene.

We met them on a sunny September day in Izmir, where we sat down over coffee for a discussion. Both of them are enthusiastic Bitcoiners who not only own their own law firm but also openly embrace Bitcoin as a form of payment for the services they provide. 

In addition to this, for the past few months, they have actively engaged in counter-propaganda efforts to demonstrate that the Turkish government's sought-after regulation lacks legal basis, consequently asserting that there is no actual ban in effect.

"The first important thing to understand," they tell us, "is that the regulation entitled 'On the Non-Usage of Crypto Assets in Payments' is indeed a regulation, and the Turkish Constitution establishes a fundamental difference between laws and regulations."

The two lawyers further explain how a law must follow a specific parliamentary process and be approved by a majority in parliament, while a regulation can be enacted by the current government, without passing through parliamentary halls. 

For this reason, however, laws in Turkey are hierarchically superior to regulations from a legal point of view. Indeed, the Constitution itself states unequivocally that only a law has the power to impose sanctions, not a regulation. The ban sought by the Erdoğan government would, therefore, be unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

"In fact, we are not aware," they continue, "that there has ever been a single fine or a single police operation targeting Turkish merchants who accept Bitcoin or crypto in their business."

According to their professional assessment, the regulation is essentially inconsequential—a document devoid of legal significance, seemingly created solely to initiate a campaign of psychological intimidation designed to discourage the widespread use of Bitcoin for transactions among the population.

Although Kaan and Ece are personally committed to trying to publicize their legal advice as much as possible, speaking openly about it on their YouTube channel and educating the Turks on their Bitcoin educational platform Selam Bitcoin, it is striking how effective the government's smokescreen is. 

Beyond the limited circle of local Bitcoiners, very few possess the expertise required to discern the baselessness of the bans heavily promoted by television and newspapers. We consider this situation in Turkey to be a valuable lesson that highlights a critical point.

It shows how those who govern us often do not even need to use their legislative power to obstruct Bitcoin adoption, and it confirms once again how the fight for freedom of opinion and the independence of the press is just as important. 

Bitcoin will face significant challenges as long as individuals like Julian Assange are imprisoned and a free press remains suppressed and silenced. In the realm of freedom, there can be no selective distinctions; one cannot favor only those causes that align with personal beliefs or political orientations. 

Freedoms are inherently interconnected, and any form of repression, regardless of its level or domain, ultimately undermines every civil and democratic right in the long term.

We greet Kaan and Ece with a big hug, congratulating them on their work and courage. It is mainly thanks to people like them, active on the front lines and willing to accept the challenge of confrontation, that our path to a Bitcoin standard will be faster.


Laura and Rikki are Bitcoin Explorers: a pair of activists and storytellers journeying across the globe to chronicle Bitcoin adoption, particularly in burgeoning nations. Follow their escapades on XInstagramTikTok, and their YouTube channel.

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