Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Freedom of Expression for Armenia Apologists

From TDZ:
After completing its investigation, the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that there is no basis to prosecute Turkish intellectuals who collected signatures for a statement that contained a personal apology for the events of 1915, which Armenians claim constituted genocide.

The prosecutor’s decision was based on the idea that “in democratic societies, opposition views are under protection within the framework of freedom of thought,” the Anatolia news agency reported.

Prompted by six Ankara residents, the Ankara chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the apology campaign organizers and the people who signed the statement.

In their petition in early January, the six citizens based their arguments on the grounds established by the Turkish Penal Code’s (TCK) infamous Article 301, which has been used to prosecute several intellectuals, journalists and activists for “insulting Turkishness.” With the Turkish Parliament’s amendment of the disputed law last year, “insulting Turkishness” was replaced with “insulting the Turkish nation.”
For a background of the complaint, see Bianet, Dec. 1. Intellectuals who have spoken on the 1915 massacres, one of the most taboo subjects in Turkish society, have been frequent targets of Article 301 (see Dec. 7 post).

All major political parties have strongly condemned the petition, though President Gül publicly defended the freedom of expression of those who wrote, organized, and signed it. Erdoğan, for his part, squarely dismissed the petition as ludicrous, unnecessary, and offensive. For explanations from apologists as to why they felt inclined to sign the petition, see recent pieces by Şahin Alpay and Engin Parev, as well as the Spiegel's interview of Baskın Oran. For the petition in question, click here. For additional background, see Saban Kardaş in the Eurasia Daily Monitor.

No comments: