BIA²’s 2006-2nd Quarterly Monitoring Report
July 19 2006
Attacks and threats, detentions and arrests, trials and attempts,
regulations and quest for rights, censorships and reactions against
monopolization, European Court of Human Rights and RTUK Penalties.
BIA News Center 17/07/2006 Erol ONDEROGLU
BÝA (Istanbul) – Attacks and threats
After an explosion on June 25 at the area where restaurants and
cafeterias area located at the Manavgat Waterfalls in Antalya, the
business owners attacked five reporters trying to cover the incident.
The restaurant and cafeteria owners shouted at the reporters: "Don’t
play with our jobs." In the attack that involved about 200 people,
Cihan News Agency (CHA) reporters Lutfu Aykurt and Fettullah Akpinar,
"Aksam" (Evening) newspaper reporters Bulent Tatogullari and Sercan
Aytis and Anatolia News Agency (AA) reporter Cem Ozdel were injured.
The alleged attackers, Yakup Eksi, the head of a nationalist group in
Manavgat, Recep Mutlu and Mevlut Ak were detained and then released
pending the outcome of the trial.
Kanal 7 reporter Abdullah Bicer heard that a woman was being
held hostage by a man who had a knife and headed off to cover the
incident. He was attacked on June 9. The Mersin Reporters’ Society
(MGC) condemned the attack. Reporter Bicer said two of his toes came
out as he ran away from the attacker, who carried a knife.
The judgeship of an Ankara Heavy Penalty Court, on May 17, arrested
Alparslan Arslan, who staged an attack against the members of the
Council of State. Ismail Sagir, Osman Yildirim and Tekin Irsi, who
allegedly were involved in the attack were also arrested. The suspects,
who are also accused of being involved in the attack against the
"Cumhuriyet" (Republic) newspaper, were sent to the Sincan F-type
prison on May 22. Former officer Muzaffer Tekin, who allegedly
encouraged the attack against the Council of State, and who attempted
to commit suicide, was later released.
Journalist and television presenter Metin Uca was attacked by an
unidentified person on May 12, while leaving a conference at the
Communications Department of Gazi University. The attacker approached
Uca saying, "may I ask something?" and attacked him with an incisive
device. The attacker, who injured Uca’s face, said: "You can’t say
anything about Catli," and escaped. Uca was taken to the emergency
unit of the Gazi Hospital by Professor Doctor Korkmaz Alemdar, the
dean of the Communications Department of Gazi University and other
university personnel. Ahmet Catli later went to the Security Department
on June 2 with his lawyer and turned himself in for attacking Uca with
a shoemaker knife. Catli is the cousin of nationalist Abdullah Catli,
who lost his life in the Susurluk accident.
On May 10, attackers hurled a hand grenade wrapped in a white cloth to
the main building of "Cumhuriyet" newspaper. On May 11, two attackers
hurled a noise bomb to the same building through the security circle
formed by the police, and then ran away. One of the attackers were
said to have a gun. The attack caused damage to cars parked in front
of the newspaper’s building. "This attack was against democracy and
the freedom of press," said the newspaper’s General Manager Ibrahim
Yildiz. "We will continue with our independent publications." Newspaper
writer Hikmet Cetinkaya described the attack, which happened despite
the security circle by police, as a challenge. The Turkish Journalists’
Society (TGC), Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS), Press Council, Human
Rights Association (IHD), United Metal-Is Union and the Conferederation
of Revolutionist Workers’ Union (DISK) condemned the attack.
On May 8, the Press Council protested an incident where the
inspectors of the Security General Directorate attempted to question
"Milliyet" (Nationality) newspaper’s Ankara reporter Tolga Sardan.
The supervisors explained their behavior by saying they were getting
information from Sardan. Reporter Sardan was summoned to the Police
Station by Police Chief Inspector Ismail Yildiz because of a report
published on April 4, 2006. The Council’s Co-President Dogan Heper,
called on the inspectors to "know their limits and to carry out
investigations without exceeding the limits of their job."
On the night of May 5, a hand grenade was hurled to the main building
of "Cumhuriyet" newspaper in Sisli. Bomb experts detonated the bomb.
The images on security cameras showed that there were two attackers
involved in the bombing. "There still are some who think that they can
change the publication principles of the newspaper through attacks
or threats," said TGC and condemned the attack. "We see and condemn
this attack as not only against the newspaper, but also against the
values of the republic regime," said the TGS.
Ergun Baskaya, the general manager of Karabuk’s "Bati TV" (West TV)
was attacked on April 25, in front of the television building. Four
unidentified persons attacked Baskaya from behind, hit him on his
head and kicked him when he fell on the ground. Baskaya, who was
taken to the Sirinevler State Hospital suffered a broken nose and
tooth. Baskaya claimed that Karabuk Mayor Huseyin Erer planned
the attack because he accused Erer with corruption in some of the
stories he wrote. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) rejected
the allegations. The Press Council condemned the attack.
In mid-April the Security General Directorate launched an investigation
on the Parliament Police who assaulted protesters demonstrating
in front of the Parliament and the journalists, who were covering
the incident. Police Spokesperson Ismail Caliskan said the method
of intervention of the Parliament Police was incorrect. Caliskan
added that the incident highlighted once against the importance of
training policemen on the intervention in social incidents. He said
an investigation was launched on the police officers.
"Ekspres" (Express) newspaper reporters Huseyin Gesoglu and Zennure Can
received phone calls informing them that the headmistress and staff
of Gaziantep’s Cennet Suzer Nursery School are wearing headscarves
to work. The reporters, who started looking into this allegation, on
April 6, were threatened by the head of the Egitim-Bir-Sen Union and
its members. The two reporters went to the school, posing as parents,
to look into the allegations. When it was understood that they are
reporters, they were locked into a room and threatened. The school
officials reacted, saying that the reporters recorded their images
without their permission. The reporters responded by saying that the
school is a public place and they were doing their jobs. The police
seized the cameras and tape recorders of the reporters with the order
of the prosecutor’s office and returned them on January 17.
Ozer Yilmaz, the owner of the "Likya Haber" (Likya News) newspaper
published in the Kalkan city of the Kas district of Antalya, was
attacked by four people with identical suits and snow masks on the
night of April 4. The reporter, who was taken to the Fethiye State
Hospital, suffered two broken arms and broken ribs. He received
almost 30 stitches on his head. Yilmaz, before the attack, published
reports in his newspaper about the looting of the coasts in Kas and
Kalkan. Yilmaz said the attack was intentional and planned.
Detentions and arrests
Rustu Demirkaya, the Tunceli reporter of Dicle News Agency (DIHA),
was arrested on June 14, along with four others, on the deposition
of Engin Korumcu, who had surrendered to security forces. Demirkaya’s
lawyer Baris Yildirim said that it was not in line with law to arrest
the reporter on the declaration confessor, who turned himself in to
the Hozat Dagoren Police Station. He added that the accusations did
not have a logical basis. A total of 11 people, including Demirkaya,
who were sent to the Tunceli Closed Prison, were detained by the
Tunceli paramilitary police central commandership for "aiding and
abetting the organization." The objections by lawyer Yildirim to two
separate Tunceli courts were rejected on June 21.
Huseyin Aykol, the general manager and a writer of the "Ulkede Ozgur
Gundem" (Free Agenda in the Country) newspaper, was detained on May
17, for his interviews with KADEK officials and on the deposition of
another confessor. Aykol was released the next day after giving his
deposition at the Besiktas Republic Prosecutor’s Office.
DIHA reporters Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar were sent to prison
on February 18, for having Molotov Cocktails in their car while
covering the demonstrations on the anniversary of the capture of
Abdullah Ocalan in the Akdeniz city of Mersin. Their demand to be
released pending the outcome of the trial was rejected on May 9 by
an Adana heavy penalty court. The two reporters are being accused
with "PKK/Kongra-Gel membership." "We did not have Molotov Cocktails
in our car," said reporter Dengiz. "The police may have placed it
there." "I had an argument with the police earlier," said Yazar.
"They had a grudge against me because I filed a complaint to the
inspectors of the Interior Ministry." The reporters, who were sent
to the Adana Kurkculer E-type prison will remain under arrest until
the next hearing on July 4.
Trials and Attempts
At the end of July, an investigation was launched against the
Armenian General Patriarch Karekin II, for "insulting the Turkish
identity," during a press conference during his visit to Turkey.
Karekin II, who recently visited Turkey, during the press conference
in the Armenian Patriarchate said: "Genocide for our people, is not a
subject of investigation. It is a reality and should be recognized."
An individual called Recep Akkus and the Lawyers’ Union, filed an
official complaint about Karekin II at the Istanbul Republic Chief
Caricaturist Sefer Selvi of the "Gunluk Evrensel" (Daily Evrensel)
newspaper was sued by Prime Minister Erdogan, for his caricatures
published on April 5, 2004. The damages case of 10,000 new Turkish
liras (USD 6,500), which was returned from the Supreme Court of
Appeals, was handled again by an Ankara court. After the Supreme
Court of Appeals overturned the decision, the lower court, during a
retrial on June 27, ruled that the decision by the Supreme Court of
Appeals should be implemented, and rejected the case.
Ragip Zarakolu, the owner of the Belge Publishing House, is being
tried for publishing a book by Professor Doctor Dora Sakayan called
"An Armenian Doctor in Turkey – Garabed Hatcherian My Smyrna Ordeal
of 1922" and by George Jerjian called "The Truth Will Set us Free."
Zarakolu, who stood trial on June 21, is facing 13.5 years in prison.
Although Zarakolu invited Professor Doctor Baskin Oran to the hearing,
in line with the "expert witness" option of the new law, the court
refused to listen to the expert. The Initiative Against Thought Crime
said, "the court is trying a book which it has not read." Judge Sevim
Efendiler said he would read the book.
The case that was brought against "Birgun" (One day) newspaper’s
writer Yalcin Ergundogan for a news report titled, "His Followers Rise
Against Haydar Bas," published on April 26, 2005, with the complaint
of Independent Turkey Party (BTP) is continuing. The judge ordered the
appointment of an expert to study the Web site, haydarbasharemi.org,
in line with the request of Ergundogan’s lawyer Tora Pekin. The trial
will continue on August 31. Another case brought against Ergundogan
at a Beyoglu court is continuing. Ergundogan is sued for 5,000 new
Turkish liras in damages in that case.
On June 21, a Beyoglu Penal Court began trying Gokhan Gencay, the
"Sunday Supplement" editor of the "Birgun" newspaper for an interview
titled, "Let’s Exhaust the Human Resources of Wars," with the
conscientious objector Erkan Bolot. Gencay is charged with "putting
people off from serving in the military." Gencay and the newspaper’s
editor-in-chief Ibrahim Gesmecioglu face three years in prison for
the interview that was published on October 30, 2005. Judge Irfan Adil
Uncu, who ordered that Cesmecioglu is brought to the hearing by force,
said the trial will continue on July 19.
Prime Minister Erdogan had filed a complaint against the "Radikal"
(Radical) newspaper for publishing the words of Haluk Koc, the Group
Deputy Head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who said "The
Prime Minister is twisting," during the discussions over revealing
his assets. His complaint was accepted. An Ankara court ordered
"Radikal" newspaper on June 30, to pay 2,000 new Turkish liras in
damages to Prime Minister Erdogan. The case Erdogan brought against
the "Cumhuriyet" newspaper for the same reason had been rejected.
With the complaint of the General Staff, an Istanbul penal court began
trying writer Osman Tiftikci of the "The Evolution of the Army from
the Ottomans to Today," and publisher Sirri Ozturk on June 20. The
court ordered that Tiftikci is detained on his entrance to Turkey and
sent to the Prosecutor’s Office. The trial will continue on September
29. "Neither I, as the publisher, nor the writer has anything to do
with the allegations listed in the indictment," said Ozturk, the
manager of the Sorun Publishing House, who is being charged with
"Publicly humiliating the army." He added that he and Tiftikci had
no special intention in writing and publishing the book.
In an exhibition organized by The Global Peace and Justice Coalition
(KURESEL-BAK) on March 11, one of the posters showed Prime Minister
Erdogan as the dog of US President George W. Bush. An Istanbul
court, on September 12, will begin trying British collage artist
Michael Dickinson and Erkan Kaya, one of the people in-charge of
the exhibition. The two men are charged with "insulting the Prime
Minister." Police, after seeing the poster at the exhibition had
detained Kara, Gulen Sahin, Mehmet Demir, Filiz Ulget and Burak Delier.
"Vakit" (Time) newspaper’s writer Abdurrahman Dilipak is facing 10
years in prison for two articles on President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
Prosecutor Omer Karacal asked for punishment for the article titled,
"Let Sezer Have Henna." Following Dilipak’s trial on June 15, the
prosecutor asked for a prison sentence for his article titled "Is Sezer
Sick?" based on articles 299/1 and 2 of the new law. The court decided
to continue both cases on October 12 to give time for Dilipak and his
lawyer Ali Pacci to prepare defense and opinions on the basics of the
case.With the complaint of Kemal Kerincsiz from the Lawyers’ Union, an
investigation was launched against Elif Safak, the writer of the roman,
"Father and Bastard," and Semih Sokmen of the Metis Publishing House
for "Publicly humiliating the Turkish identity." The investigation
ended with a decision of no jurisdiction on June 14. The Beyoglu
Republic Prosecutor Mustafa Erol, in his decision of no jurisdiction,
said "no evidence was found in the book to prove that the intention
was to humiliate the Turkish identity, or to require a criminal
proceeding. "There is no criticism in the book," said the Prosecutor.
Lawyer Huseyin Aygun, the former owner of the "Tunceli’de Munzur Haber"
(Munzur News in Tunceli) newspaper, who served in the Organizing
Committee of the Newroz celebrations, and who defended the right
of education in mother tongues in his speech, was acquitted after
four years. A Tunceli court on June 13, acquitted Aygun, ruling that
"the elements of crime were not found" Aygun was being charged with
"criticizing the practices in Tunceli and in the country, and causing
the crowd to chant slogans " and faced five years in prison.
The "Anadolu’da Vakit" (Time in Anatolia) newspaper had published the
photographs of the Head and three members of the Second Board of the
Council of State, who had given the decision that blocked headscarved
women from serving as headmistresses at nursery schools. The title
of the photograph was: "These are the Members." An Istanbul court
began trying the newspaper’s owner Nuri Aykon and editor-in-chief
Harun Aksoy on June 13. The court ordered that Aykon and Aksoy are
brought to court by force. The journalists are being charged with
"marking justice officials as targets for terrorist organizations,",
"Insulting judges and prosecutors," and "insulting the court," and
face 34.5 years in prison. The trial will continue on September 28.
On June 9, an Istanbul court continued trying "Tempo" magazine
reporter Enis Mazhar Tayman and editor-in-chief Neval Barlas for an
interview about Ibrahim Guclu, the spokesman of Diyarbakir KURD-DER
and the former deputy head of Rights and Freedoms Party (Hak-Par).
The court decided not to question Barlas since the author of the
report is known. The court decided that Tayman is brought to court
by force. The trial will continue on October 5. Tayman is being
charged with "humiliating the Turkish identity and the republic,"
and "provoking people to disobey the laws," with the report titled,
"I would have torn that identity card," published in the magazine on
December 2, 2005.
"Radikal" newspaper writer Murat Belge was acquitted on June 8. He
was being charged with "influencing judgment" by criticizing a court
decision to cancel the Ottoman Armenians Conference. An Istanbul
court dropped the prosecution on the article titled, "Slaying Law,"
published on September 24, 2005, because of limitation of time. The
court evaluated the case on the article titled, "A court decision"
published on October 15, 2005 and made a decision of acquittal.
Writers Ismet Berkan, Haluk Sahin, Erol Katircioglu and Hasan Cemal,
who were also being charged with "influencing judgment," and "insulting
the jurisdiction," had been acquitted. However, the case was taken to
the Supreme Court of Appeals after the prosecutor’s office appealed
Lawyer Hasip Kaplan, who was being charged with "dangerously inciting
grudge and enmity" by expressing his opinions on daily issues in a
program called "Alternatif" (Alternative) on "Flash TV" on April 3,
2005, was acquitted. On June 8, Prosecutor Mehmet Akilli, referred
to the European Convention on Human Rights, and said Kaplan should
be acquitted. A case was brought against Kaplan on November 29, 2005
with the complaint of the Military Prosecutor of the General Staff.
He faced 4.5 years in prison based on article 216 of the Penal Code.
The case brought against writer Perihan Magden for "putting people
off from serving in the military" by writing an article titled,
"Conscientious Objection is a Human Right," began on June 7. A group
that called themselves, "Martyr Families" protested against Magden
at the court entrance. Special police teams took security measures in
front of the court room. The case was brought against Magden with the
complaint of Legal Consultancy of the General Staff because of the
article published in the weekly "Yeni Aktuel" magazine in December
2005. Magden is facing three years in prison. An application by
11 people on behalf of the Martyr Turkish Mothers and Women to be
involved in the case was rejected on grounds that the "applicants
were not harmed and are not a side." The trial will continue on July
27. The Human Rights Association (IHD) condemned the trial.
On June 2, a Tunceli court continued trying five human rights activists
who were in the group that received Private Soldier Coskun Kirandi, who
was kidnapped by the PKK in July 2005, and five reporters who covered
the event. The court, after listening to the statements of defendants,
ordered that IHD Diyarbakir Representative Selahattin Demirtas also
gives his deposition. The trial will continue on September 8. The
activists and the reporters are faced with five years in prison. Dogan
News Agency (DHA) reporter Ferit Demir, Dicle News Agency (DIHA)
reporter Rustu Demirkaya and Abdulkadir Ozbek and Anatolia News Agency
(AA) reporter Haydar Toprakci are also being tried.
"Idea Politika" magazine’s publication manager Erol Ozkoray had
been convicted because of articles titled, "What is the use of
Army?" and "New Barbarians Taliban with Epaulets." Ozkoray is now
being retried on the basis of the new Penal Code. An Istanbul court
on June 2, decided that Ozkoray’s prosecution continues on December
12. Cases that were opened because of an article titled, "Turkey
is deceiving itself," published in December 2001, and an interview
with RSF Secretary-General Robert Menard, titled, "Turkish regime is
schisophrenic" based on article 159 are continuing in the same court.
Both individuals are being accused of "insulting the republic’s and
state’s military forces."
On June 1, Prime Minister Erdogan sued "Birgun" newspaper’s writer
Erbil Tusalp for 10,000 new Turkish liras (USD 6,500) in damages.
Tusalp had said that it should be investigated whether Erdogan "had
a sickness as a child which caused very high fever." A complaint was
filed against the writer at an Ankara court because of his article
titled, "Get Well," published on May 6, 2006. The writer had said
that the prime minister is having such a nervous breakdown that he
tore the visitor book at the house where Mustafa Kemal was born. The
writer had continued: "I am suspecting he is currently having an
"psychopathic agressive" disease. Still, I wish he gets well soon."
Peri Publishin House owner Ahmet Onal was sentenced to a year and three
months in prison on May 31, because of a book by writer Evin Cicek,
titled, "Passions and Prisoners." The court ruled that the book
"insults Ataturk." Judge Irfan Adil Uncu of a Beyoglu penal court
did not postpone the punishment.
Singer Ferhat Tunc was tried on May 31 because of an article titled,
"A Revolutionist Leyla and A Song " he wrote for the "Yeniden Ozgur
Gundem" (Free Agenda Again) newspaper. Tunc is being accused of
"insulting the court." The singer will stand trial again on September
Songul Ozkan, the owner of Evrensel Publishing, is being tried based
on article 312 of the Penal Code, because of a book called "Kurdish
Revolts," by journalist Ahmet Kahraman. A Beyoglu penal court on May
25, ruled that Ozkan may not be held responsible for a book whose
writer is known. The trial now will only cover Kahraman.
On May 24, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a fine of 5,000
new Turkish liras handed out to "Cumhuriyet" caricaturist Musa Kart
for drawing Prime Minister Erdogan as a cat. The Supreme Court of
Appeals said that "it cannot be claimed that political ciriticisms
through drawing caricatures are against freedom of press or freedom
of expression." The Supreme Court also said that although political
caricatures may be disturbing for politicians, they are important in
helping readers understand things more clearly.
On May 13, the Solidarity Association for Human Rights and the
Oppressed (MAZLUM-DER), reacted against the fact that reporter-writer
Emine Senlikoglu was sentenced to a year in prison based on article
126 of the Turkish Penal Code, because she expressed her opinion in
a television program she attended in the Manavgat ilce of Antalya.
On May 11, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a decision by an
Istanbul court to sentence Hrant Dink, the general manager of the
"Agos" newspaper to a postponed six months in prison for "insulting
the Turkish identity." The court said that the statements by Dink,
without doubt, "constituted an insult to Turkish identity." "It is
impossible to accept that it is within the scope of the European
Convention on Human Rights to humiliate a society while praising
another," said the Court.
A Turkish court acquitted Professor Doctor Ibrahim Kaboglu,
the former head of the Human Rights Advisory Board of the Prime
Ministry, and board member Professor Doctor Baskin Oran, who were
being charged because of the Minority Rights and Cultural Rights
Working Group Report. On May 10, an Ankara court, acting in line with
the prosecutor’s request for acquittal, dropped the case, which was
opened on the basis of article 301/2 of the Penal Code. The court
made a decision of acquittal on the allegation based on article
216/1.Kabaoglu and Oran were faced with up to five years in prison
for for "inciting hatred and enmity," and "publicly insulting justice."
On May 9, "Milli Gazete" (National Newspaper) writer Mehmet Þevket
Eygi, was sentenced to a year in prison for "inciting hatred and
enmity" by writing an article titled, "There is no Effort or Patriotism
Left," published on March 20, 2005. Eygi’s lawyer Ali Cahit Polat
appealed the decision. Republic Prosecutor asked for an acquittal on
the accusation of "inciting hatred and enmity based on religious or
sect differences." The Istanbul court’s judge Ruveyde Kaner, handed
out a punishment based on article 216/1 taking into account "the way
in which the crime was committed, the importance of the crime and
the aim of the defendant." The case against Eygi was opened with an
indictment dated April 24, 2005.
On May 8, an Ardahan court delivered its decision to order Selmi Yilmaz
and Fakir Yilmaz from the "Kuzeydogu Anadolu" (Northeastern Anatolia"
newspaper, to pay 8,000 new Turkish liras (USD 5,200) in damages to
the Provincial Security Head Mehmet Gurtekin. The two reporters had
accused Gurtekin of not taking measures against the sex workers in
town. A case was brought against the reporters for articles titled,
"Our population is growing," and "Security Continues," published on
June 2, 2005. The reporters were sued for 20,000 new Turkish liras
(USD 12,900) in damages.
The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision to
hand out a fine to "Radikal" newspaper’s writer Yildirim Turker for
"insulting" Prime Minister Erdogan through an article titled, "The
Streets will Win," published on June 28, 2004. According to media
reports on May 8, the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled, "The plaintiff,
besides being a party leader, is the prime minister of the Republic of
Turkey. His reactions to social and individual demands can be argued
and harshly criticized. Criticism is one of the media’s constitutional
rights." The Court overturned the lower court’s decision with three
votes against two.
On May 8, the Kocaeli Freedom of Faith Platform and a group of
MAZLUMDER members and volunteers filed an official complaint about
Turhan Selcuk for his caricature published in the "Cumhuriyet"
newspaper on April 2006. The group claimed that the caricature
constituted "insult and humiliation."
On May 5, Prosecutor Omer Karacal demanded the punishment of
journalist Sebati Karakurt and the "Hurriyet" (Freedom) newspaper’s
managers Necdet Tatlican and Hasan Kilic based on article 6/2 of the
anti-terrorism law, saying that the interview Karakurt conducted on
the Kandil Mountains and published in the Sunday Supplement of the
newspaper, "was published in a way that constitutes a propaganda on
behalf of the organization." Karakurt, during his deposition, said
he wrote similar reports in other countries, and said that this is
a requirement of journalism. The case was adjourned until September 21.
On May 4, a prosecutor asked that writer Murat Yetkin of "Radikal"
newspaper is sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for "attempting
to influence a fair trial" by criticizing a case brought against
writer Orhan Pamuk in his column. Yekin, in his article published on
September 18, 2005, titled "Turkey will be tried in the case against
Orhan Pamuk," had written that the Pamuk case would be used against
Turkey during its EU negotiations. He added: "I wonder how many in
Ankara realize that Turkey, as well as Pamuk will be tried in this
case." The court will continue trying Yetkin on August 24.
On May 3, the Beyoglu Republic Prosecutor Nihat Erdem brought a case
against "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper’s reporter Birgul Ozbaris for
"putting people off from serving in the military," by writing reports
titled "Don’t Point Guns at Your Brothers," published on April 24 and
"Conscientious Objector Savda: Don’t Serve in the Army" published on
April 9, 2006. Up to now, six cases have been brought against Ozbaris
for "putting people off from serving in the military," and one case
for "praising the crime and the criminal." A Beyoglu court will start
trying Ozbaris on July 6. She faces a total of 21 years in prison.
A case brought against reporter Nese Duzel for an interview published
in the "Radikal" newspaper titled, "Ocalan Will be Freed one Day,"
may be dropped due to a limitation of time. Duzel is being accused
of "disseminating terrorist propaganda." On May 2, a Bagcilar penal
court Prosecutoer Omer Karacal asked that the case is dropped becuase
it was not opened in time. However, the prosecutor said that the case
against Orhan Dogan, a founding member of the Democratic Society Party
(DTP), who gave the interview to Duzel, was opened in time. The case
opened based on the anti-terrorism law, will continue on August 10.
A case was brought against Osman Baydemir, the Mayor of the Diyarbakir
Metropolitan Municipality on May 2, because of an interview with
the "Tempo" magazine. The case was opened with the request of the
Justice Ministry. The prosecutor demanded that Baydemir is sentenced
to 1.5 years in prison for "openly humiliating people based on racial
and regional differences," through the media. With the order of the
court, Baydemir will make a deposition on July 7 at the a Diyarbakir
court. Prosecutor Ali Cakir also included in his indictment, the
expressions, "Baydemir does not want Roj TV to be closed; He wants the
isolation of Abdullah Ocalan to be lifted," published in the magazine.
On May 1, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s
decision to sentence Hrant Dink, the general manager of the "Agos"
newspaper to a postponed six months in prison for "insulting
the Turkish identity, " ruling that there are shortcomings in
implementation. The court ruled that the expression "The clean blood,
which will replace the poisonous blood from the Turk, is present
in the noble vain between the Armenian and Armenia," constitutes an
insult to the Turkish identity.
On April 23, Huseyin Kara, the head of the Superiority of Law
Association, filed an official complaint against caricaturist
Turhan Selcuk and the "Cumhuriyet" newspaper’s editor-in-chief
Guray Oz. The official complaint submitted to the Istanbul Republic
Chief Prosecutor’s Office stated that in the newspaper’s April
19, 2006 edition, there was a caricature by Turhan Selcuk named,
"Headscarved pig heads towards European Union." The application said
that the caricature constituted an insult to Muslims and asked for
legal action against Selcuk and Oz.
On April 21, an Ankara penal court acquitted Alaaddin Dincer, the
head of the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Eðitim-Sen), who
was being charged with "praising crime," by telling the Peace Mothers:
"Your Fight is our fight. We are also supporting peace, we thank Peace
Mothers." The court also acquitted Yuksel Mutlu, an official of the
IHD, who talked about the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan,
as the "Kurdish leader." The court said that Mutlu did not make a
speech on July 12, 2004, and added that it was Muyesser Gunes who
made the speech.
On April 20, the European Journalists’ Federation (EFJ), which is a
regional organization of the International Journalists’ Federation
(FÝJ), condemned the fact that a case was brought against "Afrika"
(Africa) newspaper’s writer Serhat Incirli for "insulting the
Turkish nation." EFJ Secretary-General Aidan White said that
Incirli was charged because of two articles in which he criticized
Turkey. White added that this was the first time Turkish officials
attempted to open a case against a Turkish Cypriot journalist, and
condemned the decision. "This is a planned attampt to intimidate
independent journalists, and to put free discussions within society
under pressure," said White. The news about the case got out when
Turkish Cypriot official Ferdi Sabit Soyer told the Turkish Cypriot
Journalists’ Society: "The police has questioned Serhat Incirli’s
family to determine his address."
On April 20, an Adana penal court, despite the opinion of the Supreme
Court of Appeals Repunlic Chief Prosecutor and the Prosecutor,
sentenced radio presenter Sabri Ejder Ozic to six months in prison,
based on article 301 of the Penal Code. The court did not postpone
the sentence or commute it to a fine. The court sentenced Ozic for
"openly humiliating the parliament." Ozic, on February 24, 2003, when
the motion of allowing US military to go through Turkey on their way
to Iraq was sent to the Parliament by the Council of Ministers, had
said on the "Kaptanýn Seyir Defteri" (The Captain’s Journal) program:
"If this Parliament is going to approve sending soldiers to a terrorist
activity, then this Parliament is terrorist."
In mid-April, the media reported that the Supreme Court of Appeals
did not find any elements of crime in the case Prime Minister Erdogan
brought against caricaturist Musa Kart for "attacking his personal
rights." The Supreme Court of Appeals also rejected the case the
prime minsiter brought against the "Sakarya" newspaper in Eskisehir.
Erdogan had sued the newspaper for 10,000 new Turkish liras (USD 6,500)
in damages. Thus, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a lower Eskisehir
court’s decision that there is no elements of crime in the caricature.
Nalan Akgun, the Media and Public Relations Coordinator of the
Van Yuzuncu Yil University, and Azer Banu Kemaloglu, the research
official of the English Language and Literature Department had worn
white ribbons to protest the arrest of the university’s president,
Prof. Dr. Yucel Askin. A case was brought against Akgun and Kemaloglu
for "influencing judgment." The two were acquitted on the first hearing
on April 17. A Van penal court was trying Akgun and Kemaloglu based
on article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code. They faced up to three
years in prison.
An Ankara court on April 11, rejected a case brought by Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan againt the "Ortadogu" newspaper for an article
titled, "An assertive policy or a slimy one?" Erdogan had sued the
newspaper for 10,000 new Turkish liras (USD 6,500) in damages. The
newspaper and writer Zeki Saracoðlu had criticized the Prime Minister
for using the headscarf problem as a political tool.
The case brought against journalists Hasan Cemal, Ismet Berkan,
Haluk Sahin and Erol Katýrcýoðlu for criticizing the cancellation of
the Ottoman Armenians Conference, was dropped on April 11 because
of limitation of time. The journalists were being charged with
"attempting to influence a free trial," and "publicly insulting
judgment," and faced prison sentences of 6 months to 10 years. The
Bagcilar Prosecutor’s Office appealed the decision. The complaint
against "Radikal" newspaper writer Murat Belge was not dropped because
his article did not face the limitation of time. Belge will continue
to be tried at a Bagcilar penal court.
On April 7, "Kurtlar Vadisi" (Valley of Wolves) actor Necati Sasmaz,
directors Raci Sasmaz, Hasan Kacar and Bahadir Ozdener, filed
complaints against journalists Metin Uca, Hincal Uluc and Perihan
Magden because of their statements on the "Kurtlar Vadisi" series and
"Kurtlar Vadisi-Iraq" film. The Kadikoy Republic Prosecutor’s Office
brought a case against journalist Perihan Magden for "humiliating"
the "Kurtlar Vadisi" film "through the media." Magden faces two years
The case brought against the Literatur Publishing House because of the
novel called "Symirni Magicians" by Mara Meimaridi, based on article
201 of the Panal Code, began at a Beyoglu penal court on April 6. The
trial will continue on July 26. Abdullah Yilmaz, a manager of hte
publishing house, is being charged with "humiliating the Turkish
identity, the Turkish State and the Turkish Armed Forces."
On April 6, editor Ali Riza Vural of Doz Publishing House, stood
trial because of a two-volume book by Mesut Barzani, titled, "Barzani
and the Kurdish National Freedom Movement." A case brought against
the first edition on February 2003 was dropped due to amendments to
the law. The book is now on trial for the second edition published
in May 2005. A Beyoglu court will continue with the trial on July
20. In the indictment dated October 5, 2005 by Beyoglu Republic
Prosecutor Nihat Erdem, editor Vural is being accused of "insulting
the Republic." Vural faces up to three years in prison based on
article 301/2 of the Penal Code.
On April 3, Prime Minister Erdogan appealed a court decision to reject
a 40,000 new Turkish liras (USD 25,800) damages case he brought against
"Penguen" magazine for publishing a caricature called "Tayyip World."
Regulations and quest for rights
On April 12, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who announced the
government’s reform package, said that there are no problems regarding
the implementation of the new Turkish Penal Code and added that they do
not foresee any changes to article 301, which came under the spotlight
with the Pamuk trial.
The IHD and TIHV had applied to the Council of State to annul
the National Security Document, which is defined as the "Secret
Constitution," and the Council of Ministers decision, which put the
document into effect. On May 18, Council of State Head Ali Guven and
members Ahmet Baspinar, Cem Erbuk, Nuket Yoklamacioglu and Ibrahim
Berberoglu unanimously decided to ask from the Prime Ministry for a
copy of the document and its defense on the application. The Council
of State will then evaluate the application.
In September 2003, Prime Minister Erdogan’s security guard had kicked
"Star" reporter Musa Agacik at Istanbul’s Dolmabahce. After two
and a half years, a court ordered the security guard Murat Oksuz
to pay a fine of 3,000 new Turkish liras (USD 1,900). On June 20 an
Istanbul penal court ruled that the security guard had "badly treated
On May 25, a court continued trying Mayor Hasan Balaman for
beating, with his security guards, Arif Bayram Tas, the former
Isparta representative of "Zaman" newspaper and Cihan News Agency
(CIHA) reporter Mustafa Altintas when they came to his office in
February.The Isparta penal court, which took the deposition of the
mayor’s Private Secretary Ayhan Gurcicek, Banu Okur, Cengiz Simsek
and Mustafa Kabaagac, decided that Balaman is brought to the next
hearing on July 5 and that CIHA reporter Altintas is sent to the
Forensic Medical Institution.
Yalcin Ozbey, one of the perpetrators of the journalist Abdi Ipekci
murder, was released on May 21. Ozbey was arrested on grounds of
armed threat. On March 4, Ozbey was sent to the Forest Prison in
Belgium’s capital city, Brussels. Ozbey, who was arrested because of
"raiding and racket" was released pending the outcome of the trial.
At the end of April, the Supreme Court of Appeals Republic Chief
Prosecutor’s Office stated that seven of the Umut Case defendants,
who were found guilty of murdering intellectuals including Ugur Mumcu,
Bahriye Ucok and Ahmet Taner Kislali, should not take advantage of
the Amnesty Law. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office also demanded that the
life-long prison sentence handed out to Ferhan Ozmen and a 15-year
prison sentence handed out to Ekrem Baytap are upheld.
Censorships and Reactions Against Monopolization
The anti-terrorism law, which created concern among national and
international freedom of expression institutions, was accepted
by the parliament on June 29. The draft had been postponed by
Republican People’s Party on grounds that it would bring amnesty to
PKK lideri Abdullah Ocalan. Under the law, which includes a very wide
notion, such as "publication official" calls for prison sentences
for "publishing statements by the terrorist organization," and
"disseminating terrorist propaganda." Justice Minister Cemil Cicek,
before the discussion session in parliament said: "I wish we had
not come with such a draft. It is a very sevimsiz draft." After the
parliament’s approval of the law, Cicek promised: "Rights and freedoms
will not be restricted."
A law on Military Courts, no: 5530, which restricts civilian trials
in military courts, was accepted by parliament on June 29. The law
enables civilians to be tried in normal courts unless they commit
a military crime together with military personnell. However, under
the law, civilian courts will be able to refer to the decrees of the
Military Penal Law.
On June 22, the Republican People’s Party Lawmaker Feridun Baloglu,
asked the number of cartoons the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT)
brought from local and foreign companies since January 12, 2004, and
how these cartoons are selected. Baloglu in his motion submitted to
the Turkish Grand National Assembly to be answered by State Minister
Besir Atalay, pointed to the statements by TRT Television Department
Head. The TRT Television Department Head, in his statements to a
newspaper had said: "As TRT, our broadcasts are in line with the
Turkish culture. That’s why we didn’t buy the cartoon ‘Winnie The
Pooh.’ Baloglu wants to learn which channels broadcast the films
that are brought and at which times. If there are some that are not
broadcast, Baloglu also asked why.
The representatives of publisher and writer institutions believe it
will take time for Turkey to solve the problems which led to warnings
on "freedom of expression" by the Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn
in the Luxembourg summit in June 12, when the EU decided to formally
begin negotiations with Turkey. Turkish Publicists’ Union (TYB)
Secretary General Metin Celal said: "The implementers are resisting
all laws that bring freedoms by wrongly interpreting them or not
implementing. Unfortunately we cannot look at the future with too
much hope." Vecdi Sayar, the head of PEN Turkey Center is optimistic
but does not think the problems can be solved in a short time.
Cemal Dogan, the general manager of "Gun TV" in Diyarbakir, on June
12, stated that they could not be pleased about reports that the
time limitations on broadcasts in mother tongues are gevsetilmek
for cultural programs such as cinema and music. The televisions are
limited to four hours of broadcasts in mother tongues in a week,
while the radios are limited to five hours per week. Dogan said they
go through a lot of difficulties under the current circumstances. He
added that RTUK should be more flexible not about specific programs
but on conditions for regular broadcasts. "Problems will continue as
long as the scope of the regulation remains this way," said Dogan.
"If they want to take a step in this field, they should fully review
A group of 250, including members of the Press and Communication
Workers’ Union (Haber-Sen), Global Peace and Justice Commission
(Kuresel BAK) and TRT workers, who said "No to pressures and censorship
in TRT," gathered in front of the TRT Istanbul Radio in June 7 and made
a press statement. TRT reporter Mehmet Demir, who is also the Haber-Sen
Beyoðlu Þubesi Basýn-Yayýn Sekreteri gave many examples of censorship
and pressures in the TRT. Academician Ufuk Uras, the Confederation of
Public Workers’ Union, DISK Secretary-General Musa Cam, artist Salih
Guney and TRT Radio artist Umut Akyurek supported the demonstration.
On May 30, TCG Head Orhan Erinc talked to students about the
problems of the media during the "Tuesday Conferences" organized by
the Communications Department of Marmara University. Erinc argued
that "opposing unions constitutes a disrespect for the rights of
On May 12, Sanar Yurdatapan, one of the spokespersons of the
initiative called, "The Voter is Watching You" said they are against
the anti-terrorism draft because it "restricts freedoms more than
terrorism, because it gives a green light to torture and it brings
back the State Security Courts (DGM)." Yurdatapan warned that if the
draft is approved the law will lead to a legal chaos by leading to a
confusion of notions. "The whole law should be withdrawn not just a
couple of articles," said Yurdatapan. The TGC on May 16 organized a
panel about the "Draft Anti-Terrorism Law" together with the Turkish
Penal Law Association.
An investigation was launched into intellectuals, who staged a
civil disobedience action on March 28, calling on the withdrawal of
regulations of the Penal Code that restrict freedom of thought. The
intellectuals made a deposition to Prosecutor Nurten Altinok on
May 5 at the Istanbul Sultanahmet Court. Seven people among the 20,
who turned themselves in, said in their deposition: "The signature
belongs to me, I participated in this action, I don’t have anything
else to say."
Co-Chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliament Committee Joost Lagendijk,
who organized a press conference after the 56. meeting of Turkey-EU
Joint Parliament Committee (KPK) in May 5 in Ankara, said: "What I
said at the opening are effective. When we look at the reforms in
Turkey, we are faced with a quite mixed picture."
On April 19, Mus Provincial National Eduaction Directorship handed
out a condemnation to Literature Teacher Kasim Siginc of Endustri
Meslek Lisesi, who writes articles for the "Haber 49" (News 49)
newspaper. The directorship, which based the punishment on article
125/B-d of the Public Servants’ Law No: 657, commuted Siginc’s
punishment to a "warning" on April 19, beacuse of his "positive
efforts and clean record."
Sanliurfa’s "Medya FM," which began broadcasts in the Kirmanchi dialect
of Kurdish on March 23 with the permission of RTUK. It is continuing
these broadcasts with many difficulties. The radio is broadcasting
Kirmanchi programs five times a week. Its General Coordinator Mustafa
Arisut, on April 6, said that two employees had to work 10 hours a
day to prepare the program, present it and fulfill the bureaucratic
European Court of Human Rights
On June 27, the ECHR ruled that the right of freedom of expression of
editor-in-chief Hasan Deniz was restricted. Deniz received punishment
for "disseminating separatist propaganda," because of an article
by Fikret Baskaya published on June 1, 1999 in the "Ozgur Bakis"
(Free View) newspaper. The ECHR, on January 4, 1999, ordered Turkey
to pay 6,500 euros (13,000 new Turkish liras) to "Yeni Evrensel" (New
Universal) newspaper officials Fevzi Saygili and Tuncay Seyman in a
case about distributing the newspaper in regions ruled with martial
law. The ECHR fined Turkey 16,000 euros (32,000 new Turkish liras)
in a case brought by Tunceli Culture and Solidarity Association Head
Selman Yesilgoz and association’s committee member Ali Firik.
On June 22, the ECHR fined Turkey 3,500 euros (7,000 new Turkish liras)
in a freedom of expression case opened by the Urun Publishing House. An
official of the publishing house had been sentenced to 13 months and
10 days in prison because of a book called, "Turkish Communist Party
5th Congress Documents." The court had ruled on March 28, 2003, that
the book disseminates "separatist propaganda." The ECHR ruled that
expressions such as "faschism" and "the Kurds’ right to separation"
may point to a certain severeness, but cannot be seen as expressions
that may lead to use of violence among citizens, or incite hatred
On May 11, the ECHR, accepted an application by journalist Zeynel
Abidin Kizilyaprak during its preliminarty investigation. Kizilyaprak
had been sentenced to prison for articles he wrote as the editor
of the "Kurds from 1900 to 2000" Chronological Album. He was found
guilty of disseminating "separatist propaganda." Kizilyaprak who was
the editor of the album prepared by the closed down "Ozgur Bakis"
newspaper, was sentenced to a year and four months in prison and was
fined 1,612 new Turkish liras by an Istanbul State Security Court.
On May 4, the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay a fine of 33,052 euros
(52,880 new Turkish liras) for violating freedom of expression.
Democracy Party (DEP) lawmakers Mahmut Alinak, Sirri Sakik and Ahmet
Turk were sentenced to prison for asking that the Kurdish identity
is recognized and that "violence policies" are ended during their
speeches. In the case opened by Alinak, Sakik and Turk, the ECHR
ordered Turkey to pay a fine of 26, 500 euros (42, 400 new Turkish
liras). The ECHR also ordered a fine of 3,500 euros (5,600 new Turkish
liras) for Ahmet Ergin, the editor-in-chief of the "Gunluk Emek"
(Daily Labour) newspaper, who received a punishment at the General
Staff Military Court for a report titled "Sending off to military
service and social memory."
On May 2, the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 3,052 euros (4,880 new Turkish
liras) in damages to writer Erdogan Aydin Tatlav, who had been punished
for "insulting Islam" through his book "The Reality of Islam."
On April 11, the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 24,800 new Turkish
liras in freedom of expression cases opened by Democracy Party former
lawmaker Mehmet Hatip Dicle, "2000’de Yeni Gundem" (New Agenda in 2000)
newspeper’s owner Mehmet Emin Yildiz and workers, and Sevgi Yilmaz,
who made a speech at the Elazig Branch of Labour’s Party. The ECHR
also ruled on a fine of 9,000 euros (14,400 new Turkish liras) in a
case about abolishing the "2000’de Yeni Gundem" newspaper in martial
On April 4, the ECHR convicted Turkey for not offering a fair trial to
Hasan Celal Guzel, who had been sentenced to prison by a State Security
Court when he was the Head of the Yeniden Dogus Partisi (YDP). The
ECHR, which took the decision unanimously, ordered Turkey to pay Guzel
1,000 euros (1,600 new Turkish liras) in court expenses. AIHM said
the best action would be to retry Guzel in a free and objective court.
According to the Web site of the Radio and Television Higher Board
(RTUK) no penalties have been handed out in the last three months of
2006. Since there is no announcement on the RTUK Web site on the issue,
we are hoping that there were penalties towards the media. (EO)