THIRD QUARTERLY MEDIA MONITORING REPORT: FULL TEXT
Oct 30 2007
The third quarterly report of the Bia Media Monitoring Desk has
appeared, detailing violations of press freedom and the freedom of
expression in the months of July, August and September 2007.
According to the quarterly report of the Bia Media Monitoring Desk,
relating to events in July, August and September 2007, 125 people,
most of them journalists, and six media institutions have been tried
for expressing their thoughts freely.
This report lists the violations of the freedom of expression under
Murder, attacks and threats Detentions and arrests Trials and
investigations Corrections and seeking legal redress European Court
of Human Rights Reactions to censorship RTUK [Radio and Television
Supreme Council] practices Murder, Attacks and Threats
Two security officers who were involved in the taking of photos of
O.S., the murder suspect of Agos editor Hrant Dink, together with
gendarmerie and police in the tea room of the Samsun Department
for Terrorism, are now on trial. At the first hearing at the fourth
penal court in Samsun on 28 September, the defendants Metin Balta,
the acting director of the Terrorism Department, and Ibrahim Firat,
police officer at the department, did not attend. The hearing has
been postponed until 2 November in order to take their statements and
evaluate demands. Bahri Bayram Belen, a lawyer for the Dink family,
has demanded that the court file of Balta and Firat be added to the
murder case which is being heard at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal
court. Belen also requested that Hrant Dink’s wife, daughter, son
and brother be allowed to join the trial as third-party plaintiffs.
When nationalist singer Ismail Turut and lyrics writer Arif Sirin
(also known as "Bard Arif") gave statements about the song "Plan,
don’t make a plan" and the clip which was broadcast on You Tube using
that song, Radikal reporter Serkan Ocak asked Turut: "Are those with
you your body guards?" One of the men pointed his finger at Ocak and
said, "Be careful". Turut called his entourage "my friends, my fans."
In the Objektif programme on Fox TV, broadcast on 20 September, Sirin
continued to threaten journalist Ali Bayramoglu of the Yeni Safak
newspaper, who had first written about the song and the video clip.
He said: "I was surprised at Ali Bayramoglu’s approach in this
matter. What is such a writer doing in such a climate? This community
needs to examine this writer carefully." Bayramoglu had previously
been threatened after publishing an article entitled "Our Life is in
Danger" on 4 July, in which he pointed out the importance of solving
the Hrant Dink murder. He received an email message saying, "If you
continue to write like that, you will end like Hrant Dink". The matter
has been taken to the prosecution.
Lawyers of the Dink family have appealed against the decision of the
Trabzon Governor’s Office not to allow the investigation of Ramazan
Akyurek, the head of the Intelligence Unit at the Police Department,
Resat Altay, former police chief in Trabzon, and police officers
Engin Dinc, Faruk Sari, Ercan Demir, Ozkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit and
Mehmet Ayhan. The governor’s office is basing its refusal on a report
by investigators of the Ministry of the Interior who had prepared
Kasim Ciftci, the owner of the "Hakkari Province Voice" newspaper
died on the evening of 22 September after being shot by one or more
unknown persons. The murder was condemned by the Van Lake Journalists’
Society, the former Hakkari mayor and Abdurrahman Keskin, owner of
Hakkari’s "The People’s Voice" newspaper. It is not clear yet whether
he died because of activities relating to press freedom or the freedom
"Radikal" journalist Turker Alkan wrote that he used to receive threats
before 28 February 1997, a date commonly remembered as a "postmodern
coup" in Turkey. He said that threats by email had resumed since the
general elections of 22 July. Writing on 6 September, Alkan said:
"After 22 July, angry and threatening communications have again shown
themselves. In a recently received communication, someone claiming to
be a police officer said that I was a ‘traitor’ and that s/he would
‘shoot into my head twice.’" Alkan added, "Who knows, was that person
really a police officer? But even if s/he was not, what do you think
it means that someone with such a mentality has appropriated the role
of police officer?"
Prime Minister Erdogan criticised "Hurriyet" columnist Bekir
Coskun heavily for writing about Abdullah Gul, "He Will Not Be My
President". In the Arena programme of Kanal D, which Erdogan attended
on 20 August, he responded to the column by saying: "Unfortunately
there are those who do not know propriety. Those who say such things
should first give up their citizenship of the Turkish Republic." In
his editorial comment, Oktay Eksi of the "Hurriyet" newspaper then
replied: "The honourable Prime Minster has to be asked by someone:
‘Are you kicking Bekir Coskun off your father’s farm?" Orhan Erinc,
president of the Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC) evaluated the PM’s
comments as "unfortunate and misplaced". Prime Ministerial spokesperson
Akif Beki replied that the Prime Minister had not criticised Coskun,
but the attempts at making the issue [of the presidential elections]
Reporter Ahmet Un of the local "Kulp News" newspaper in Diyarbakir
filed a criminal complaint in August, saying that he has been receiving
death threats and insults from mayor Mahmut Zengin after criticising
him for not solving a water problem which was causing illnesses.
The "Tunceli Emek" (Labour) newspaper, which had reported that a
petrol tanker belonging to the state-run village services had emptied
its petrol into the petrol station of former mayor Hasan Korkmaz,
was subsequently visited by a man called Hasan Cakici on 3 August. He
threatened newspaper employees. It has been said that after he was
removed from the office with the help of others, Hasan Korkmaz’s
brother came to the office and hurled threats.
Aris Nalci, the news editor of the weekly Turkish-Armenian "Agos"
newspaper has said that although there has been a decrease in email
threats, they do continue. High school student R.D. was arrested on
2 August for sending the newspaper a threatening email one day after
editor-in-chief Hrant Dink’s murder. In his first statement R.D. said,
"I sent that message in a moment of ignorance." He was then sent to
Bayrampasa prison in Istanbul.
Sinan Tekpetek, journalist and editor for the "Ozgur Hayat" (Free
Life) newspaper and the "yuzde 52 Ofke" (52 percent Anger) magazine,
has stated that he was forcibly taken away by a police car in Taksim
(central Istanbul) on the evening of 26 July, brought to a desolate
place, continuously exposed to insults, death threats and violence,
and then thrown out of the police car near Karakoy. The international
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reacted to the incident by saying:
"It is not clear yet whether the journalist was exposed to violence
because of his professional activities as a journalist or because of
a court case related to his objection to police violence." In a press
statement which he read at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights
Association (IHD), Tekpetek said that he did not know the reason for
the attack, but that it may either be the activities of the magazine or
a court case opened against him after he had witnessed police violence
in 2005. Tekpetek gave a statement to prosecutor Enver Dikilitas on
The daily "Bolge" (Region) newspaper in Adana was attacked by a group
for writing that those who "made efforts to ensure that no one voted
for the CHP (Republican People’s Party) thus did not have the right
to criticise the CHP". Around 20 people came to the newspaper office
to speak to editor-in-chief Nevzat Ucak. They reacted to an article
published on 29 July, which said that "the gathering in front of
the head office was a fiasco" and to an article criticising them
as "The Children of Soros" on 30 July. The CHP opponents insulted
newspaper employees and when they reacted, the intruders harrassed them
further. Ucak said, "We wrote that those who had said ‘Do not vote
for the CHP’ and who had hung up posters, put adverts in newspapers
and had generally worked towards that goal, did not have the right to
call for CHP chair Baykal’s resignation; they stormed our office." The
Cukurova Journalists’ Society condemned the attack with a statement.
On 13 July, the Professional News Camerapersons’ Association
condemned the physical attack by AKP supporters on the news group
of the Kanalturk channel when filming an election campaign with 500
cycling children in Ankara. Cameras were broken and film cassettes
confiscated. Reporter Duygu Kayacik and cameraman Mujdat Genc were
targeted, too. In its statement, the association said: "We demand
that those responsible for the attack on democracy and free publishing
during the election campaign, one of the greatest gains of democracy,
be brought to trial."
On 13 July, lawyers of the Dink family appealed against the decision
of the Samsun Public Prosecution to dismiss proceedings against police
and gendarmerie officers who formed close relationships with Hrant
Dink’s murder suspect O.S. after his arrest.
In the Hrant Dink murder trial, joint attorneys appealed against
the decision of the court to release four of the eighteen detained
suspects, Salih Hacisalihoglu, Osman Alpay, Irfan Ozkan and Veysel
Toprak, from detention at the first hearing of the case on 2 July. In
the appeal to the 9th Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul, it said: "Basic
and critical issues which are needed to shed light on this case are
to be found in the actions of the released suspects."
The international Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reacted to a report
by the Police Department, which said that the murder of journalist
Hrant Dink was organised by "a group based on friendship". RSF said,
"This report is attempting to clear the security forces. The question
that really needs to be answered is why the warnings of Erhan Tuncel
were ignored. The police said that ties with Tuncel were cut in
November 2006, but he said at the hearing, ‘I told the police that
an attack against Hrant Dink would be organised.’"
In a press briefing on 3 July, one day after the first hearing in the
Hrant Dink murder trial, lawyer Fethiye Cetin called for the trial
of all the gendarmerie and police officers whose relations with the
murder suspects have emerged, and who did not prevent the murder
despite knowing about it. Cetin cited Article 83 of the Penal Code,
which deals with "related crimes", and demanded that these officers
be tried as part of the murder case.
At the first hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial at the Istanbul
14th Heavy Penal Court, the release of detained defendants Salih
Hacisalihoglu, Osman Altay, Irfan Ozkan and Veysel Toprak was
decided. Defendant O.S., tried for being the suspected gunman, used his
right to silence. Erhan Tuncel, tried for incitement to murder, said:
"I served the state. I do not know why I am here." Defendant Yasin
Hayal said: "Tuncel deceived us. He planned the murder. It was him who
built the bomb that was thrown at Mc Donald’s [in an earlier incident
in Trabzon]." The first hearing lasted all day. All eighteen defendants
were questioned and the demands of the defense and the joint attorneys
were listened to. Requests of both sides to widen the investigation
were accepted. The court case was to continue on 1 October.
Detentions and Arrests
Idris Akboga, the editor of the "Ozgur Halk" (Free People) magazine,
was arrested when he went to the Istanbul 11th Heavy Penal Court
on 26 September in order to give a statement on the September issue
of the magazine. He was sent to Bayrampasa prison in Istanbul. The
court has accused Akboga of "praising crimes and criminals", of
"printing and publishing texts of a terrorist organisation", of
"committing a crime by helping members of a terrorist organisation
or spreading propaganda."
Fusun Erdogan, the general broadcast coordinator of "Ozgur Radyo"
(Free Radio), who had been arrested together with 22 other people
in an operation targeting members of the Marxist Leninist Communist
Party (MLKP) on 12 September 2006, is to appear at the Istanbul 10th
Heavy Penal Court on 26 October for the first time. Others accused of
relations with the organisation are Atilim newspaper editor Ibrahim
Cicek, who is being held in an F-type prison in Tekirdag, and Atilim
publishing coordinator Sedat Senoglu, being held in an F-type prison in
Edirne, former Atilim editor Ziya Ulusoy and Atilim journalist Bayram
Namaz. In the 292-page indictment prepared by Public Prosecutor Ali
Cengiz Haciosmanoglu, prison sentences ranging from 10.5 to 45 years
are being demanded.
Durmus Sahin, a student of the Ankara Gazi University Education
Faculty, was arrested on 11 July when he refused to shake hands with
Minister for Health Recep Akdag. Sahin had said, "I do not shake
hands with those in government who do not provide services to the
citizens". After five days detention, he was brought before the Olur
Criminal Court of Peace. There Sahin said, "Although I did not want
to shake hands, the minister persisted in wanting tos hake my hands.
Because I did not give my hand, he sent me to prison." Sahin was
released from detention but will be tried. A prison sentence from
six months to two years is being demanded.
Mehmet Cevizci, reporter for the Dicle News Agency, who was taking part
in a news workshop organised by Press Now and the IPS Communications
Foundation, was arrested by gendarmerie coming to his room at the
Mavi Gol hotel at 5am. He was released at around 2pm after giving a
statement. Cevizci said that he had been arrested at a protest against
"criminal gangs and prostitution", which ended in disturbances after
a banner saying "Amed [the Kurdish name for Diyarbakir] is honour,
protect your honour" was opened. Cevizci was being searched for
Issues of the weekly "Coban Atesi" (Shepherd’s Fire) newspaper
in Gaziantep were collected and confiscated after an article in
the issue of 3 August 2007 said, "Antep is an industrial city in
Northern Kurdistan." A week later, Yasin Yetisgen, owner and editor
of the newspaper, was arrested when he went to the Gaziantep 1st
Peace Court of First Instance to give a statement regarding the
notification of the confiscation. The newspaper’s publishing board
said in a statement: "Our newspaper, which supports real freedom of
expression, will continue its struggle against all kind of legal,
administrative and political decisions and practices which mean an
attack on the freedoms of thought and expression." The board also
protested against the "precautionary arrest" of Yetisgen. Yetisgen
was released after three weeks in detention. There has been an arrest
warrant issued for writer Hursit Kasikkirmaz of the same newspaper.
Four people who had been in detention for more than 10 months after the
"Gaye" operation targeting the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP)
in 21 September 2006 were released on 7 August. One of them is Emin
Orhan, the editor of the "Dayanisma" (Solidarity) newspaper. The case,
in which 32 people, nine of them still in detention, are being tried
for "membership in an organisation", will continue on 6 December. The
Istanbul 9th Heavy Penal Court decided to continue the detentions
of Yusuf Demir, Yunus Aydemir, Erdal Demirhan, Ali Haydar Keles and
Sait Bayram and Firat Avci, the news editor and reporter of
Diyarbakir-based "Soz TV and Newspaper" were arrested after claiming
that judge Mehmet Yucel Kurtoglu was transferred because he had
been taking bribes. The two reporters were released a month later,
on 20 July. They had been sent to Diyarbakir’s Closed Prison under the
charge of "insulting through the press". The relevant article had been
published on 18 June 2007. The court case will continue on 31 October.
Sinan Kara, the owner of the "Datca News" newspaper was arrested
when preparing a book about the city of Batman and its environs. He
was arrested on 3 February under the charge of "insulting through the
press". He was released on 3 July, after spending more than four months
in an M-type prison in Batman, and then 20 days in a prison in Mugla.
Trials and Investigations
The trial of Rojda Kizgin, reporter for the Dicle News Agency (DIHA),
Ridvan Kizgin, former branch president of the Human Rights Assocation
(IHD) and Dogan Adibelli will continue on 30 October. Adibelli had
claimed that village guards were using government bombs to hunt fish,
and this was reported by DIHA. The defendants are being tried under
Article 301/2, for "degrading the state’s military and security
Emin Karaca, journalist for the "Yazin" magazine in Turkey and Europe,
had criticised the army for the execution of student revolutionary
leaders Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin Inan on the anniversary
of their execution. The Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that
Karaca be retried under Article 301/2, and the trial continues on 3
October. In September 2005 he was given a five-month prison sentence
which was then converted into a 900 YTL fine. The sentence was then
overruled for a technical reason (a missing signature) and wil now
continue at the 2nd Penal Court in Istanbul.
The case which retired ambassador and MP for the Republican People’s
Party (CHP) M. Sukru Elekdag initiated against Publisher Muzaffer
Erdogdu for the publication of a book entitled "The Treatment of
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916: Documents Presented to
Fallodon Viscount Grey by Viscount Bryce" continues at the Ankara 6th
Civil Court of First Instance. Elekdag is demanding compensation of
20,000 YTL. The book, which was published in November 2005, has also
caused the trial of translator Ahmet Guner and historian Taner Akcam.
Akcam is further being tried for an article in the "Birikim" journal.
The trial will continue on 8 November.
Abdurrahman Dilipak and Mehmet Ozcan, journalist and editor of the
"Akit" newspaper respectively, are still on trial at the Bagcilar
2nd Penal Court (Istanbul) for an article entitled "My Country is
Something Else" and published on 27 April 2001. The two defendants
are on trial for "inciting the public to hatred and hostility". The
trial will continue on 20 November.
It has been decided to continue four trials against DTP Batman MP
Aysel Tugluk for "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation".
The cases were heard at the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court on 20
September. Tugluk did not attend, but her lawyer Ozcan Kilic demanded
that the court consider Tugluk’s immunity (due to her status as a
parliamentarian). The court has cited Article 14 of the constitution
which foresees that "basic rights and freedoms are not abused" and
decided to continue. Up to five years imprisonment are being demanded.
Singer Ferhat Tunc has been on trial for around three years for an
article entitled "A Revolutionary Leyla and a Song", published in the
"Yeniden Gundem" newspaper on 19 January 2004. He has been charged
with "degrading and ridiculing the court". In the article, he had
criticised the detention and trial of Leyla Zana and the former DEP
MPs. Up to three years imprisonment are being demanded. The trial is
to continue on 13 December at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court (Istanbul)
and the newspaper’s responsible editor Mehmet Colak, who lives abroad,
is also being tried.
In the trial against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, who have been
accused of "degrading Turkishness and inciting hatred and hostility"
and "illegally collecting data" with Protestant missionary activity,
there has been a change of court. Following a complaint of lawyer
Kemal Kerincsiz and others from the Great Lawyers’ Union about the
judge, the case has been transferred to the Silivri 1st Penal Court.
At the hearing on 26 September, the demand of Sevgi Erenol, press
spokesperson of the Turkish Orthodox Church, to join the trial as a
third party was denied. The case will be continued on 29 November.
Prosecutor Demirhuyuk, who was in charge of the case before, had said
on 18 July, "The right to live and spread the religion one wants is
protected by the constitution and our laws in terms of the freedom
of religion and conscience."
The case against the Belge Publications for translating and publishing
Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan’s "An Armenian in Turkey" (The Memoirs of
Garabet Haceryan) and George Jerjian’s "The Truth Will Set Us Free"
will continue on 3 October. Because the court cannot reach Jerjian,
publisher Ragip Zarakolu is on trial instead. For Sakayan’s book,
both Zarakolu and translator Atilla Tuygan are on trial.
Zarakolu faces up to 7.5 years imprisonment demanded for "degrading
and ridiculing the State and the Republic" and "insulting the memory
of Ataturk". Tuygan faces six years imprisonment for "degrading and
ridiculing the army".
Prime Minister Erdogan lost his court case against "Cumhuriyet"
writer Ilhan Selcuk, who had written an article entitled "There is
No Language Particular to the Reactionary" published on 6 May 2007.
Selcuk had written "The worst thing was how the reactionary gang who
spoke in the name of the Supreme Allah, the Holy Prophet and the
Holy Qu’ran became wild when they had come to power." Erdogan had
demanded 20,000 YTL compensation, but judge Ahmet Metin Tozun at an
Ankara court decreed that there was no criminal element in the words.
"The state made mistakes. When and where? Yesterday, in the East and
South-East. then in Istanbul. In Maras and Sivas. Today in Trabzon,
Istanbul, Mersin and in the South-East," said journalist Haci
Bogatekin, and had to face court again on 26 September. Because he
criticised state policies in an article entitled "Turkey Has Made
Mistakes", published in his newspaper on 10 March 2007, he is on
trial for "degrading Turkishness, the Republic, state institutions
or its organs" (Article 301). The case will continue on 6 November.
On 21 September, the Kocaeli 2nd Penal Court punished caricaturist
Muhammet Sengoz to 11 months and 20 days imprisonment for a caricature
entitled "Who’s next, Mayor?" published in the "Free Kocaeli"
newspaper. The sentence was converted into a 7,000 YTL fine.
The prosecutor had called for an acquittal, but nevertheless, Sengoz
was sentenced in the case brought by mayor Ibrahim Karaosmanoglu.
Sengoz had reacted to billboards which Karaosmanoglu had put up
around the city which praised his achievements. A constant theme on
the billboards was a person asking, "What’s next, Mayor?" In Sengoz’s
caricature, a man with his back to the reader and with his trousers
down is asking, "Who’s next, Mayor?"
Umut Karakoyun, owner of the local "Tunceli Emek" newspaper in Tunceli,
eastern Anatolia, was being tried under Article 301 for accusing the
judiciary of bias. Karakoyun has claimed that the Tunceli governor’s
office obstructed advertisements in an arbitrary manner and had written
about the governor’s press and PR manager Elif Polat. Karakoyun is
also accused of "insulting a public officer through the media". On
21 September, the Tunceli Penal Court acquitted him on both accounts.
Sinan Kara, a journalist who has been imprisoned three times before,
was acquitted in a trial under Article 301, concerning an article he
wrote in which he joined EU Commission Turkey representative Hans
Jorg Kretschmer’s criticism of the army. The article was entitled
"Barracks Party". At the hearing on 20 September, the Beyoglu 2nd
Penal Court acquitted him. He is also on trial under Article 301/2
for an article entitled "Justice has become Militarism’s Jester",
published in the "Social Democracy" (Toplumsal Demokrasi) newspaper
on 20 November 2006. He will face court again on 26 October. Kara is
also on trial for an article entitled "Full-time killers", in which
he criticised the state and the army in relation to a bombing in
Diyarbakir in which 10 people died, eight of them children. Again,
Article 301 has been cited, and the case will start on 26 October.
Finally, Kara will face the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court on 30
January 2008 for an article entitled "Isolation Knows No Limits",
writing about isolation cells in prisons. The article was published in
the "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper on 14 November 2006. In addition,
the "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper’s responsible editor Ozlem Aktan
and writer Mustafa Temizkan are on trial for "praising a criminal"
after an article referred to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan as
"the leader of the Kurdish People".
Retired judge Zekeriya Dilsizoglu is demanding 100,000 YTL
compensation from editor Nurgul Balcioglu of the "Gaziantep Sabah
newspaper. Balcioglu had criticised the judge’s claim that "In nine out
of ten murders, a woman is involved". The case began on 14 September
at the Bakirkoy 8th Penal Court (Istanbul) and will continue on
A case against "Nokta" magazine editor Alper Gormus began on 19
September. The trial is related to the publication of parts of
retired Navy Commander General Ozden Ornek’s diaries. On 29 March,
the magazine had published an article entitled "Sarikiz and Ayisigi
in Suprising Detail. We had a narrow escape from two military coups
in 2004!" Following a complaint by Ornek, Gormus is now on trial. The
case will continue on 29 February 2008 and up to six years and eight
months imprisonment are being demanded.
Dink family lawyer Erdal Dogan is on trial for saying that "Hrant was
particularly worried about Veli Kucuk getting involved in his trial".
Veli Kucuk, a retired brigadier general who is infamous in Turkey for
his involvement in the "deep state", is said to have threatened Dink.
There is no investigation against Veli Kucuk. Kucuk is deamnding
10,000 YTL compensation for being portrayed as a "murderer" and for
being accused without justification. At the hearing on 18 September,
the Beyoglu 4th Penal Court requested more evidence from both sides.
The trial will continue on 22 November.
Yasin Yetisgen, owner and responsible director of the weekly "Coban
Atesi" (Shepherd’s Fire) newspaper in Gaziantep, south-eastern Turkey,
is on trial under Article 216/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Yetisgen, and the writer of the article, Hursit Kasikkirmaz, are
charged with "inciting hatred and hostility". The case is based on
the controversial use of the term "Kurdistan" in the sentence "With a
population of 2 million, Antep is the biggest metropoloe in Northern
Kurdistan". The case will begin on 4 October at the Gaziantep 10th
Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran had been on trial
under Article 216/1 for the writing of the report of the Minority
Rights and Cultural Rights Working Group. The two academics had
suggested the term "citizenship of Turkey" (or literally "Turkey-ness",
in Turkish "Turkiyelik") as a super-identity in their report. Since
14 November 2005 they have been on trial, with a sentence of between
1.5 and 4.5 years being demanded. An Ankara Penal Court had aquitted
the two academics of "inciting hatred and hostility" on 10 May, but,
following the appeal of Ankara Public Prosecutor Huseyin Boyrazoglu,
the supreme court overturned this decree. On 13 September, the 8th
Penal Department of the Court of Appeals decreed that "a new definition
of minority will endanger the unitary state and the inseparability
of the nation".
A Recep Akkus and an Asim Demir have filed a criminal complaint against
the "Radikal" newspaper for translating two articles into Turkish
and publishing them. The articles in question are "New Evidence of
Armenian Genocide" by the experienced Middle East correspondent Robert
Fisk from the "Independent" newspaper and "How Sincere is the ‘Never
Again’ Slogan?" by Jeff Jacoby from the "Boston Globe". Radikal’s
responsible editor Hasan Cakkalkurt may face a trial under Article 301
for "degrading Turkishness". The complaint is still being investigated.
Fuat Turgut, the defense lawyer of Yasin Hayal, a suspect in the Hrant
Dink murder trial, is demanding a total of 20,000 YTL compensation
from "Radikal" columnist Perihan Magden, "Birgun" journalist Ahmet
Tulgar and Dink family lawyer Erdal Dogan. The trial was opened on 12
September. In an article published on 5 July 2007, Magden had described
Turgut as a "freak showman". On the same day, Tulgar wrote of him as
"mad and showy".
The case of DTP Batman PM Aysel Tugluk and the party’s former Siirt
Province chair Murat Avci continued on 11 September. They are on trial
for a statement they made – on World Peace Day. Tugluk is accused
of "spreading terrorist propaganda". The Diyarbakir 4th Heavy Penal
Court has decided to request an official statement regarding Tugluk’s
parliamentarian status. The court has further decreed that if Avci,
who has not attended hearings, does not appear in court by 13 November,
which is the next hearing, he will be brought forcibly.
Tugluk is also being tried for a speech she made in Batman last year.
Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law has been cited and up to five
years imprisonment are being demanded. The next hearing in this case
is 25 October.
The trial against 56 mayors who had written to Danish Prime Minister
Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2005 in order to persuade him not to close
down Roj TV has had to be postponed awaiting the answer of Denmark’s
media secretary. On 11 September, the Diyarbakir 5th Heavy Penal Court
demanded an original English text on the situation concerning Roj TV
for the second time. The trial will continue on 20 November.
The 56 mayors, 54 of whom are from the pro-Kurdish DTP, and two from
the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP), are being accused of
"knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organisation" by "trying
to prevent the loss of a visual propaganda medium of the terrorist
organisation". The prosecution has demanded the acquittal of three
and prison sentences ranging from 7.5 to 15 years for the other 53.
They are being tried under Articles 314/3 and 220/7 of the Turkish
Hikmet Erden, reporter for the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) is being tried
for claiming that soldiers were trying to prevent people from voting
for the "A thousand hope" candidates supported by the pro-Kurdish
DTP party in the Karacadag region of Diyarbakir.
Following a criminal complaint by the gendarmerie, the Diyarbakir
Public Prosecution has opened a trial against Erden for "spreading
slander in the press", citing Article 267 of Law 5237 of the Penal
Code and demanding between one and four years in prison. The case
will start at the Diyarbakir 2nd Penal Court on 2 February 2008.
Emin Bal, reporter for the Dogan News Agency and the "Sirnak News"
newspaper, filed a complaint against police officers for hitting him
at the same time as they claimed the same about him. Bal has been to
court eight times for "hitting three police officers" a year ago. On
the other hand, no trial has been opened against the police officers,
whom Bal claims hit him. Bal had a medical report saying that he was
unfit to work for six days. The journalist’s lawyer Mucahit Dursun
said, "Although we filed criminal complaints on the same date, the
case against my client has nearly been decided. Our complaint against
the police however, is still waiting at the prosecutor’s office. The
case against Bal will continue on 4 October. Bal claims that he was
arrested and beaten by police officers on 10 October 2006 when he
went to court to research a court case.
Singer Ferhat Tunc is being tried for saying at a concert in Antalya’s
Alanya district on 22 July 2006: "Just as every soldier who dies in
this country is a child of this country, every guerilla who is killed
is this country’s child." Tunc will appear at the Izmir 10th Heavy
Penal Court on 4 October. He is being tried under Article 7/2 of the
Anti-Terrorism Law and five years imprisonment are being demanded.
Yucel Sayman, former president of the Istanbul Bar Association, who
accused Kemal Kerincsiz’s lawyers of influencing the judiciary at
the first hearing in the trial against journalists from the "Agos"
newspaper, is being tried for insulting those same lawyers. The
hearing in question was on 10 May 2006, when editor-in-chief Hrant
Dink, editor Arat Dink and licence holder Serkis Seropyan were
being tried. Following a complaint by Kerincsiz, Sayman will have
to appear at the Sisli Penal Court in February 2008. Article 125 of
the Penal Code is being cited, and up to two years imprisonment are
Cagri Karadag and Kemal Bozkurt, the owner and editor-in-chief of
the "Revolution is the Only Way Movement" magazine were acquitted at
a hearing at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court on 31 August. The
trial had been opened because of two articles entitled "The Kurds
are my brothers and the people in E-type prisons are your children"
and "1 September World Peace Day". The articles were published in
the eighth issue of the magazine in September and October 2004,
and the two journalists had been on trial under Article 7/2 of
the Anti-Terrorism Law. In the first article it had said: "As those
resisting become isolated, attacks increase. Let us unite our forces in
order to create an effective resistance against the brutal attacks on
the Kurdish movement, the systematic attacks on the revolutionaries
and the torture." Bozkurt is furthermore on trial for an article
about Mahir Cayan, a student revolutionary leader of the 1960s,
and his friends. He is accused of "praising a crime and criminals"
and will be tried on 18 October at the Istanbul 2nd Penal Court.
Ozgur Ulas Kaplan, the president of the Tunceli Bar Association,
and Huseyin Tunc, the province chair of the Labour Party (EMEP) were
on trial under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for opposing
military operations in a programme broadcast by Roj TV. They were
acquitted on 16 August. Kaplan and Tunc said that they made a press
statement at the Tunceli Municipality conference room together with
political party representatives and municipality officials at the end
of 2006. After the statement, a Roj TV reporter connected with them
by phone and they told the TV channel that operations needed to stop.
On 13 August it emerged that the General Staff filed a criminal
complaint against "Sabah" newspaper’s columnist Umur Talu for
an article published on 12 June 2007 and entitled, "Are these
impossible?" Article 95/4 of the Military Penal Code has been
cited and a sentence ranging from six months to three years is
being demanded. The legal article also envisages an increment in the
sentence because a published text is concerned. Talu is being accused
of "acting in an insulting and derisive manner aimed at undermining
relations between junior and senior officers and destroying the trust
in superiors or commanders". Talu gave a statement to the Press
Prosecutor Ismail Onaran in Istanbul on 7 August. Talu’s article,
which expressed common complaints of lower ranking soldiers, included
a call for "human treatment when alive for noncommissioned officers
and the totally excluded sergeants by the high-ranking officers who
attend their funerals", as well as "their admission to army leisure
centres". The Initiative against The Crime of Thought has protested
against Talu’s prosecution, saying, "Civilians are still being tried
by Military Penal Law, which is incongruous with the promises made
in the EU reform packages."
Mustafa Koyuncu, the responsible director of the local "Emirdag"
newspaper in Afyonkarahisar has been accused of insulting local
authorities in the press. He was arrested on 13 March and held for
a week. His trial, now without detention, will continue on 3 October.
In the 12 March 2007 issue of the newspaper, Koyuncu had criticised
the police in Emirdag in an article entitled "Should We Enter the
EU Like This? They Are Abusing Their Positions". The article quotes
claims from people who had been arrested in Emirdag. The journalist
was stopped when driving and arrested. 44 police officers have filed
complaints against him.
Nurdan Acur, the Human Resources Manager of the Merkez Newspaper
Magazine Group, is suing the publishing companies of three
news websites, , , and
, for 6,000 YTL compensation. The websites had
reported on the suit which the Turkey Journalists’ Syndicate (TGS)
has filed against Acur for pressurising trade union members to resign
from the trade union. She is said to have handed out pre-prepared Trade
Union Resignation Forms to employees of the Merkez Newspaper Magazine
Press Publishing Company, whether they were members of the trade union
or not. Acur said in her complaint of 25 July that her personal rights
had been attacked. The editor-in-chief of the website Gercekgundem
(Real agenda), Baris Yarkadas was told on 12 August to attend the
hearing at the Sisli 1st Court of First Instance on 21 November.
On 9 August, "Hurriyet" newspaper’s reporter Sebati Karakurt was told
by the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court to pay a preliminary fine of 455
YTL. Karakurt is being tried for a feature on the Kongra-Gel (popularly
still known as the PKK) miltiants on the Qandil mountain in Northern
Iraq. Responsible editors Hasan Kilic and Necdet Tatlican have been
sentenced to pay 40,000 YTL and 20,000 YTL fines respectively. The
feature had been published under the title "In Kandil feminism
has gone beyond Kurdish nationalism" on 10 October 2004. Karakurt
and Kilic are accused of "spreading the statements of a terrorist
organisation". Should the fines not be paid, the court case will
continue on 13 November with a possibility of prison sentences.
On 8 August, the prosecution in Sarkoy (province of Tekirdag in Thrace)
demanded ten years imprisonment for journalist Yakup Onal of the local
"Sarkoy’un Sesi" ("The Voice of Sarkoy) newspaper for insulting mayor
Can Gursoy of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and two municipal
council members, Olcay Yucel and Ercan Yucel. The case will continue on
31 October. The case had initially been handled by prosecutor Tamer
Soysal. On his transferal to Diyarbakir, the case had been taken
over by prosecutor Huseyin Kocaslan. Soysal had appealed against the
acquittal of the journalist in an earlier case (14 March), related to
an article entitled, "Beer drinkers in blue-flagged Sarkoy, beware!" In
that case, Onal had been on trial for "violating the secrecy of an
investigation" and "attempting to influence the judiciary".
The Bagcilar Prosecution conducted investigations into "Radikal"
newspaper’s columnists Perihan Magden and Yildirim Turker at
the beginning of August. Prosecutor Ali Cakir conducted a formal
investigation into Magden after she wrote an article entitled "Tonight
your paint is everywhere, state", but dismissed proceedings on 29
June. Magden had criticised the ban on news coverage of the weapons
Arsenal found in a home in Umraniye (Istanbul) in her article. Magden
was also investigated for "harming the public image of the military"
in the same article. Following a complaint by a Recep Akkus, there
is also an investigation against Turker under Article 301/2 for
"degrading the state’s armed forces". The investigation is related to
an article entitled "Invisible Attack", published on 8 July 2007 in
the Radikal supplement. Turker had written about the process which
led to Hrant Dink’s murder, including the indifference of media and
state authorities in the face of racism.
On 3 August it was reported that the Supreme Court of Appeals ratified
the decision of the Sisli Penal Court to drop its case against writer
Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk had been on trial under Article 159 of the old
Penal Code after saying in an interview with weekly Swiss magazine
"Das Magazin" that "One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds have been
killed on this soil". Up to three years imprisonment had been demanded,
but when the Ministry of Justice had refused permission for trial,
the Sisli court had dropped the case.
On demand of the Ministry of the Interior, Mayor Abdullah Demirbas
of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir lost his post in June and the
municipal council was dissolved. The Sur municipality had offered
its services in Kurdish and Arabic as well as Turkish. Now the 8th
Chamber of the State Council has opened a case against Demirbas and
council members for "abusing their position" and "violating the law
on insurgency". In the indictment, prison sentences ranging between
one and three and a half years are demanded for the council members
deciding on the multilingual services and Osman Baydemir, the mayor
of Greater Diyarbakir. A total of 21 persons will be tried at the
Diyarbakir 2nd Penal Court on 7 November for "abusing their position"
and "violating the law on Turkish letters". Demirbas has been acquitted
in another case concerning an article entitled "Local Government in
Light of Multilingual Municipal Services" which he had presented to
the European Social Forum.
At the end of July, the Ankara 13th Civil Court of First Instance
partially accepted the complaint of a Sukru Elekdag against "Agos"
writer and historian Taner Akcam and decreed that Akcam should pay
compensation. Akcam had written an article entitled "Gunduz Aktan and
the Saik Issue in the Genocide" and it was published in the weekly
newspaper on 6, 20 and 27 January and 3, 10, 17 February 2006.
Elekdag, an MP, had claimed that his personal rights were attacked
and he was insulted. He had demanded 20,000 YTL compensation. It was
decided that Akcam and the newspaper should pay 10,000 YTL and legal
interest. Lawyers have appealed against the decision, arguing that
it violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
After saying in a speech, "We will count an attack on Kerkuk as
an attack on Diyarbakir", DTP province chair Hilmi Aydogdu was
detained for one and a half months. Since 5 April, he has been on
trial without detention. The court has listened to journalists who
interviews Aydogdu and it has been decided that local journalist
Abdulselam Tayfun’s statement also be taken. Now the Diyarbakir 8th
Penal Court is going to evaluate CD recordings. At a hearing on 26
July, Aydogdu’s lawyer Hayrettin Guzel had been given time to examine
the analysis of the recording. Aydogdu is being tried under Article
216/1 of the old Penal Code for "inciting the public to hatred and
hostility" and up to 4.5 years imprisonment are being demanded. The
case will continue on 2 October.
Lawyer Ferhat Bayindir had taken on the case of Hasin Is, who had been
killed in front of the Batman Municipality building two years ago,
on 27 August 2005. Bayindir himself was put on trial after a press
statement he made on 16 June 2005. He was accused of "insulting the
police force". The case will continue at the Batman Heavy Penal Court
on 4 October.
In the case against Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir, the expert
report has been questioned. Baydemir is said to have told the "Tempo"
magazine in an interview that "Turks and Kurds cannot live together".
On 24 July the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court (Istanbul) accepted Baydemir’s
lawyer Ozcan Intas’s claim that the expert had confused the utterances
of Baydemir and DTP Siirt province chair Murat Avci and the lawyer’s
demand for correction. The court has ordered the correction, and,
if recordings of Baydemir exist, their analysis.
Baydemir has been on trial under Article 216 of the old Penal Code for
"inciting the public to hatred and hostility". The case will continue
on 6 December.
Eren Keskin, lawyer and former president of the Istanbul branch of
the Human Rights Association (IHD), will not be tried for "inciting
to hatred and hostility" after a speech she made in the Bulanik
district of Mus, in which she used the term "Kurdistan". The Bulanik
prosecution decreed that "however unacceptable it was, it consisted of
expressing an opinion" and dropped proceedings. In the justification
it said that the suspect had used the term Kurdistan to refer to the
area mostly inhabited by Kurds. However, she will be tried for the
use of the same term used at a panel entitled "Woman, Society and
Family" at the Viransehir Culture and Arts Festival two and a half
years ago. Keskin has said that there are 15 trials open against her
under Articles 159 and 301.
Ali Riza Vural, editor of Doz Publications, is being tried for
"degrading and ridiculing the Republic in print" after publishing Mesut
Barzani’s two-volume book entitled "Barzani and the Kurdish National
Freedom Movement". The Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court decided on 18 July
to postpone the trial of Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, who had initally been
tried in relation with the book. The case was opened under Article
301/2 on 5 October 2005 and three years imprisonment is being demanded
for Vural. The book was initially published in February 2003 and then
withdrawn after a change in law. The second edition came out in May
2005. Vural will appear in court on 28 November.
The case against Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan, editor and licence
holder of the Agos newspaper respectively, continued on 17 July. The
two journalists are being tried for an interview which murdered
Hrant Dink gave the Reuters News Agency and for an article entitled
"A Vote against 301". The trial was opened after Recep Akkus of
the nationalist Great Lawyers’ Union filed a complaint. The trial,
brought under Article 301/1 continues on 11 October. Up to three
years imprisonment are being demanded.
Durmus Sahin, a student of the Ankara Gazi University Education
Faculty, was arrested on 11 July when he refused to shake hands with
Minister for Health Recep Akdag. Sahin had said, "I do not shake
hands with those in government who do not provide services to the
citizens". After five days detention, he was brought before the Olur
Criminal Court of Peace. There Sahin said, "Although I did not want
to shake hands, the minister persisted in wanting tos hake my hands.
Because I did not give my hand, he sent me to prison." Sahin was
released from detention but will be tried. A prison sentence from
six months to two years is being demanded.
The Ankara 14th Civil Court of First Instance has rejected the
complaint of Prime Minister Erdogan against "Sabah" columnist Hincal
Uluc. After the murder of Hrant Dink, he had written an article
entitled "Sects and Presidential Candidacy", which was published
on 7 February. Erdogan had demanded 20,000 YTL compensation for
"serious atttack and slander", but on 12 July the court rejected the
complaint. Uluc had claimed that the positions of Istanbul Police
Chief Celalettin Cerrah and Minister of the Interior Abdulkadir Aksu
were being protected after the murders of priest Andrea Santoro and
journalist Hrant Dink because of their connections with religious
sects and that the Prime Minister was closely linked to sects.
On 8 July, the Ankara 14th Civil Court of First Instance also rejected
the 20,000 YTL compensation case which the KOZA gold mining company
(which uses cyanide in its extraction) opened against the "Gunluk
Evrensel" newspaper. The complaint had been made when the newspaper
reported on events which took place between KOZA goldmine employees and
municipal officials on the one hand and the public on the other at the
"Cyanide-Gold Environment Panel". The Izmir 2nd Civil Court of First
Instance had rejected two complaints of the same company against the
"Birgun" newspaper’s editor Ibrahim Cesmecioglu and reporter Elcin
Yagiz after the publication of two articles entitled, "Road of Acid"
and "Closure Trial for Ovacik Gold Mine".
Journalist Sinan Kara has been sentenced to 3 months and five days
imprisonment and a fine of 522 YTL after Datca’s district governor
(Kaymakam) Savas Tuncer had filed a complaint against him for
"insulting him in the press". The journalist was notified of the
decision by the Datca Penal court, made on 4 July, on 23 July. In an
article published on the website Memleketinsesi.com on 25 January
2005, Kara had claimed that Tuncer was turning a blind eye to and
protecting the smuggling of historical artifacts. Kara said, "Now I
go to prison without complaining. These are the days we live in."
Kara has spent a total of one year and three months in prison and
there are 25 more cases against him. Should the court decision under
Article 482/4 be ratified by the Supreme Court of Appeals, he will
go to prison again.
Prime Minister Erdogan has opened a 10,000 YTL compensation trial
against journalist Cuneyt Arcayurek for attacking his personal
rights. Arcayurek had appeared on the "Politika Duragi" programme of
the Kanalturk channel and is said to have said, "Their insides and
their outsides are lies. They are liars."
On 4 July it was reported that Prime Ministerial advisor Cuneyd Zapsu’s
demand for 10,000 YTL compensation from the "Milliyet" newspaper and
editor Dogan Akin had been rejected. the Istanbul 6th Civil Court of
First Instance decideded on 28th June that the article written about
Al Qaida operations and published on 3 July 2006 did not contain an
insult to Zapsu. The complaint against the newspaper said a conscious
slandering campaign against Zapsu had been initiated, wrong and
misleading statements were made, and the impression was created in the
public that he was connected to and supported terrorist organisations."
On 2 July, the Ankara 5th Commercial Court of First Instance rejected
the Army Mutual Aid Foundation (OYAK)’s 10 million YTL compensation
claim from "Milliyet" journalists Gungor Uras and Metin Munir. They
had criticised the fact that OYAK had bought the Erdemir iron and steel
factories and then sold some of the shares to a foreign company. OYAK
had also demanded a total of 25 million YTL compensation from Yigit
Bulut, then writing for "Radikal", Aydin Ayaydin from "Sabah" and
Ibrahim Haselcin of the "Star Borsaci" magazine.
Corrections and Seeking Legal Redress
The trial of N.B. and M.B., accused of attacking journalist Necip
Capraz two years ago, started on 17 September. Capraz, a reporter for
the Anatolia Agenc and the owner of the "Yuksekova News" in Hakkari
province, had investigated reactionary activities. On 22 September
2005, he was attacked by ten masked people and seriously injured. He
then filed a complaint against his attackers. The court case will
continue on 5 November. While the accused protest their innocence,
Capraz has identified the car used that night and the driver of the
car. The defendants are being tried for "deliberately causing injury".
As of 10 August, "Cumhuriyet" newspaper’s reporter Alper Turgut,
who was attacked by riot police at Taksim Square when covering a
forbidden 1 May rally there, has not yet been able to bring those
responsible to trial. The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Public Prosecution
has decided not to proceed with the Turgut’s lawyer Tora Pekin’s
complaint against Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah and the
Riot Police Department. Pekin had complained to the Council of State
Chamber Presidency because of "deliberate injury of a person" and
"violation of the freedom to work". He had based his complaint on
Articles 86/1, 3-c and 117/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Three relatives of Mus’s MP from the Justice and Development Party
(AKP), Medeni Yilmaz, have been found guilty of threatening Emrullah
Ozbey, owner of the local weekly "News 49" newspaper. Ozbey was told on
5 July that Mahsun Yilmaz, Fatih Yilmaz and Ferit Yilmaz were given
a two-year suspended sentence each. In addition, Mahsun Yilmaz has
been fined for insulting the journalist.
Reactions to censorship and monopolisation
At the end of September, 114 lecturers at the prestigious Bosphorus
University (Istanbul) condemned the trial of Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran
and Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu, the authors of the Minority Rights
Report. Among them were Prof. Dr. Nukhet Sirman, Prof. Dr. Ayse Bugra,
Prof. Dr. Edhem Eldem, Prof. Dr. Fatma Gok, Prof. Dr. Caglar Keyder
and Assistant Prof. Dr. Koray Caliskan. The academics emphasised that
the report "does not contain any elements of violence", as was claimed
in the justification for the trial. They also demanded the abolition
of Articles 301 and 216 and similar articles in the Turkish Penal
Code and said, "We view Kaboglu and Oran’s trial under Articles 301
and 216 as a restriction of academic freedom."
On 20 September the Human Rights Association (IHD) published its
report on the first six months of 2007. According to the report, 94
court cases were opened against 451 people who had used their right
to freedom of expression, and 88 investigations were launched against
361 people. In the 103 cases against 368 people which were concluded
in that period, the punishments added up to 229 years, 3 months and
15 days imprisonment and 7,981 YTL in fines. The IHD evaluated these
statistics as an indication that "there has no improvement in the
area of freedom of expression". According to the IHD, 17 cases in this
period were brought under Article 301, 22 under Article 215 ("praising
a crime and criminals"), 4 under Article 314, 2 under Article 216
("inciting the public to hatred and hostility"), 2 under Article 288
("attempting to influence the judiciary"), 20 under Article 7 of
the Anti-Terrorism Law, 2 under the Law Concerning Crimes Committed
against Ataturk, and 1 under Article 312 of the old Turkish Penal Code.
On 10 September, the Istanbul 12th Heavy Penal Court decreed that the
"Gundem" newspaper would be closed for 30 days as a punishment for
publishing two articles by PKK leader Murat Karayilan, entitled "Let
us become populist, let us win" and "Self-criticism not in words but
in practice". The newspaper was accused of spreading PKK propaganda.
The newspaper had had three previous publication bans, on 6 March 2007
for 30 days, on 9 April 2007 for 15 days, and on 12 July 2007 for 15
days. Editor-in-chief Yuksel Genc pointed out that the newspaper was
being punished under a law which 10th President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
had sent to the Constitutional Court. He added, "It is difficult to
understand that our publication is being stopped for the forth time
by an Article which tramples on the freedom of the press."
The "Cagdas Tuzla" (Modern Tuzla) newspaper has won its case at
the Istanbul 7th Administrative Court after its building was sealed
up by the Tuzla municipality in Istanbul four months ago with the
justification that there was no authorisation for employment in the
building. Newspaper owner Halil Ozen announced that, after being
deprived of their workplace for four months, the newspaper would
sue Tuzla mayor Mehmet Demirci for compensation for material and
The judiciary in Turkey allows for the closure of a whole website if
one item contained in it has become the subject of a complaint. After
the alternative dictionary Eksi Sozluk and the Antoloji.com websites,
the WorldPress.com website was closed in August. Cause for the closure
was a complaint by Adnan Oktar. The Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
organisation has previously stated that it finds this wholesale
closure of a website "radical and disproportionate."
A Regional Administrative Court has decreed that a park in Diyarbakir
cannot be named after human rights activist and publisher Ayse Nur
Zarakolu who died five yeras ago, arguing that she was a person who
"supported separatist ideas and spread terrorist propaganda both
in her own books and in the books she published". The widower of
Ayse Nur Zarakolu, Ragip Zarakolu, journalist at the "Ulkede Ozgur
Gundem" and publisher, said: "Ayse Nur Zarakolu, like Hrant Dink,
was a person who tried to build bridges between our peoples on the
basis of mutual respect , and she is one of the people who paid for
this with her life."
On 16 August, the G-9 Platform, which unites ten professional press
organisations, condemned the dismissal of journalist Emin Colasan
from the "Hurriyet" newspaper. The platform said that Colasan had
committed years to the newspaper from which he was then dismissed
arbitrarily. The platform described this as a warning that everyone
needed to protect press freedom and freedom of expression. Reyhan
Yalcindag, the president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), on
the other hand, did not believe that Colasan was dismissed because
of rights issues and took a more critical stance: "We do not consider
thoughts which serve violence as freedom of expression."
The Human Rights Association (IHD) branch in Adana (southern Turkey)
received a letter by one Ayhan Bozkaya saying that the prison
management does not give prisoners newspapers. On 13 August Ethem
Acikalin of the IHD said that the association had applied to the
Penal Execution Judge and the Ministry of Justice, protesting against
the fact that daily newspapers and periodicals were not allowed into
prison despite the fact that there was no court order to confiscate
them. The letter of objection said that this was obstructing the right
to inform oneself and that it represented a violation of international
agreements that Turkey was part of. Acikalin said that prisoners at
an F-type prison in Kurkculer (Adana) had been given newspapers after
human rights associations had publicised their plight.
On 24 July, the Turkey Journalists’ Society (TGC) awarded its Freedom
of Press Prizes to Rakel Dink, widow of murdered journalist Hrant Dink,
publisher Ragip Zarakolu and lawyer Gulcin Cayligil as representatives
of "all those journalists and writers who have suffered and been tried
under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.". TGC president Orhan
Erinc presented the awards at the ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in
Istanbul. In his opening speech, he said, "Today censorship is not the
direct inspection of newspapers, but the limiting clauses placed in
laws." In her acceptance speech, Rakel Dink criticised Cemil Cicek,
Minister of Justice when her husband was still alive. He had said,
"Let them be happy, they get prizes because of us". Hrant Dink had
replied, "Our greatest prize would be the abolishment of Article 301."
In July, a heavy penal court in Istanbul stopped the "Guncel"
newspaper from publishing for twelve days, arguing that it was the
continuation of the "Gundem" newspaper which had been closed for
15 days. "Gundem" had been closed on 15 July 2007 for an article
on pre-election opinions in Batman, a province in the south-east
of Turkey, published on 12 July and entitled: "Batman’s message:
Look after the guerrillas". Mehmet Samur, the editor-in-chief of the
"Guncel" newspaper evaluated its closure in the daily "Evrensel"
newspaper as "election censorship". The newspaper was closed until
28 July, six days after the general elections took place.
A Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul decreed the closure of the "Gundem"
newspaper for fifteen days. Cause for the closure was an article
published on 12 July in issued 132, entitled: "The Batman Message:
Stand By the Guerrillas". The newspaper has been closed for 30 and
15 days before and has now been closed for "spreading PKK propaganda
in a call for violence". Friday’s issue (13 July) of the newspaper
was confiscated. Gundem’s Editor-in-chief Yuksel Genc argued that the
closure was a violation of the freedom of the press. He said that the
newspaper was continually being targeted. The newspaper had quoted
a worker from Batman as saying, "The people’s expectations of the
[pro-Kurdish] independent candidates are very clear. The people are
sending them to parliament not in order to support PKK terrorism, but
to support the people’s children who are struggling for their rights."
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
On 20 September, the ECHR decreed that Turkey had violated the freedom
of expression of 19 people in prison when not allowing them to write or
receive letters. Three of them were Mahmut Sakar and Vedat Cetin from
the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Erdal Tas, the editor-in-chief
of the "New Agenda in 2000" (2000’de Yeni Gundem). The European court
awarded the two IHD plaintiffs 3,500 Euros compensation each. The ECHR
further decreed that Erdal Tas had not received a fair trial when he
had twice been tried and fined under Article 6 of the Anti-Terrorism
Law for "publishing the statements of the PKK". Turkey is to pay Turkey
a total of 4,000 Euros compensation. Further, the court decreed that 16
prisoners from Aydin prison, who had protested against the arrest of
PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in a statement to the Ministry of Justice,
should not have been tried for "separatist propaganda", as this was
incongruous with the freedom of expression. The freedom of expression
of Sukru Tapkan, Dilaver Keklik, Murat Dogan, Mehmet Hazbin Korkut,
Hilmi Olsoy, Fuat Ay, Ali Budak, Celalettin Polat, Ahmet Ertas,
Ilhami Gulmez, Hamdullah Kiran, Ibrahim Elbir, Velat Cetinkaya,
Huseyin Vural, Ilhan Dayan and Riza Tan was thus limited unacceptably.
However, the ECHR has only awarded Vural 1,000 Euros compensation
for mental damages, while the others are to paid 1,000 legal costs.
On 31 July, the ECHR decreed that Turkey did not limit the freedom
of expression of former Kayseri mayor Sukru Karatepe when it punished
him for "inciting hatred and hostility" in several of his speeches.
On 9 October 1997, Karatepe had been sentenced to a year imprisonment
and a fine by the Ankara State Security Court for "spreading hatred
and hostility by pointing to differences in religion" in speeches
made in October and November 1996. Karatepe was removed from his
office in February 1998 and arrested on 24 April 1998. Karatepe, a
member of the Welfare Party (RP), was given a conditional release on
17 September 1998. While the ECHR acknowledged that the army members
of the state security courts made fair trials less likely, and that
this was incongruous with Article 6/1 of the European Convention on
Human Rights, it found that Karatepe’s punishment was not excessive,
considering the aim of preventing the incitement to crime. Voting six
to one, the ECHR decreed that the sentence did not violate Article
10 of the Convention on Human Rights and denied Karatepe the right
to compensation. It charged the former mayor with paying 500 Euros
On 24 July, the ECHR found Turkey guilty of "limiting freedom of
expression" in an appeal against the banning of the "Yedinci Gundem"
(Seventh Agenda) newspaper in the regions ruled by emergency law
(OHAL regions). Although the ECHR acknowledged that decisions made
in OHAL regions were not subject to the judiciary, it nevertheless
found the case incongruous with Article 13 of the European Convention
on Human Rights which deals with "the right to effective appeals to
court". Complainants to the ECHR were Hunkar Demirel, Evrim Alatas,
Lales Arslan, Mehmet Burtakucin, Zeynal Akgul, Abdulvahap Tas, Azad
Ozkeskin, Bozkurt Mevlut, Ragip Zarakolu and Hidir Ates.
The ECHR has found the punishment of Hasan Celal Guzel, who had been
given a suspended prison sentence, wrong. In an article in the "Yeni
Gunaydin" newspaper on 23 June 1997, Guzel had commented on the then
President Suleyman Demirel, writing, "If you are President, then act
like a President". Turkey is to pay Guzel 5,000 YTL legal costs.
RTUK [Radio and Television Supreme Council] practices
RTUK announce that Kanalturk’s main news at 8 pm on 24, 25, 26 and
28 June 2007 and the lunchtime news programme "Editor’s Desk" at 1pm
had conveyed interpretations which could the direct public against
the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In the statement, RTUK said:
"While news about many political parties was broadcast in up-to-date
form, news regarding the AKP was broadcast in combination with the
Prime Minister’s speeches from the past and in a biased manner".
Since 11 September, the channel has not been allowed to broadcast
its main news programme. The "Word Parliament" programme presented
by Tuncay Ozkan has also been stopped nine times. CHP leader Deniz
Baykal has criticised RTUK’s decision.
The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) has filed a complaint against RTUK
president Zahid Akman and RTUK Monitoring and Evaluating Department
Head Nurullah Ozturk at the Ankara Public Prosecution. The complaint
concerns the fact that RTUK members Saban Sevinc and Mehmet Dabak are
said to have deliberately given the names of TV channels and radio
stations disobeying the election bans to the YSK late.
The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) punished 20 TV channels with
warnings and programme bans because of violations of the pre-election
broadcasting rules. Evaluating 117 monitoring reports, RTUK acted in
39 cases. Kanalturk was punished with six programme bans, 24 TV was
warned and three different programmes were banned 3, 6, and 9 times
respectively. CNN Turk was warned, and two programmes were banned 3
and 5 times respectively. Two programmes on Fox TV were banned three
times each. Haber 7 and Haber Turk both received a warning and three
programmes were banned once for each channel. Kanal 7 was warned and
two programmes were banned 3 and 4 times respectively. ATV, Flash TV,
Kanal B, Kanal D, NTV, Sky Turk and Star TV received a warning each.
Kanalturk, Meltem TV and TGRT Haber received a warning each and
three programmes on each channel were banned 3, 6, and 9 times
respectively. Mesaj TV was warned and four programmes were banned 3,
6, 9 and 12 times respectively. Ulusal 1 TV received a warning and
three programmes were banned 3,4 and 6 times respectively. (EO/AG)