TURKISH WRITER FACING CHARGES OVER GENOCIDE CLAIMS
Sept 1 2005
ISTANBUL, Turkey – A Turkish novelist has been charged with insulting
his country’s national character and could face prison, his publisher
Orhan Pamuk is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 16 and could face up
to three years in prison for comments on Turkey’s killing of Armenians
and Kurds, publisher Tugrul Pasaoglu said.
Turkish court officials were not immediately available to comment.
“Thirty-thousand Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these
lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it,” Pamuk was quoted as
saying in an interview with a Swiss newspaper magazine in February.
Armenians claim the the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks around
the time of World War I was the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey vehemently denies an Armenian genocide took place, saying the
death toll is inflated and Armenians were killed in a civil war as
the Ottoman Empire collapsed, eventually giving way to the Turkish
Republic in 1923.
The “thirty thousand Kurds” mentioned by Pamuk refers to those killed
since 1984 as Turkey fought a war against armed Kurdish separatists.
The fighting ended in 1999 after a cease-fire was called by the rebels,
but has resumed since then.
Turkey, along with the United States and the European Union, considers
members of the main rebel group – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or
PKK – terrorists.
Turkey, which has been trying to improve its human rights record as
it vies for membership in the European Union, is extremely sensitive
about both the Armenian and Kurdish issues, and the new Turkish penal
code makes it a crime to denigrate Turkey’s national identity.
Pamuk’s books include the internationally acclaimed “Snow” and “My
Name is Red” and have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Pamuk has not shied away from dealing with Turkey’s more controversial
historical issues, drawing criticism for his statements.