BIA² 2007 MEDIA MONITORING REPORT
Feb 6 2008
The BIA² 2007 Media Monitoring Report reveals that there are still
countless violations of press freedom across the country. There were
also more attacks on journalists in 2007 than in the previous year,
with the shocking murder of Hrant Dink still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Býa news centre
The summary of the Bia Media Monitoring Report 2007 report can be
The full report has been divided into subsections, entitled Attacks
and Threats, Detentions and Arrests, Trials Concerning Freedom of
Press and Expression, Corrections and Legal Redress, Censorship
and Reactions to Monopolisation, European Court of Human Rights,
and Implementations of RTUK (the Radio and Television Supreme Council).
Attacks and Threats
The Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC) has condemned the fact that
Lig TV’s cameramen Umit Kul and Ali Demir were exposed to police
violence at a Fenerbahce-Trabzonspor match at a stadium in Istanbul.
Kul said in his statement to the prosecution: "At the end of the match,
those going to the meeting walked towards the press entrance.
The riot police came and said, "Do not stay here, go back." We went
back a bit. They pushed us. When they pushed my cameraman colleague,
I held his arm. One police officer came and started kicking from
behind. They hit my camera. In order to protect my camera, I put out
my foot. Our arms were held by two police officers each. They walked
us around the stadium for half an hour, and while we were walking, they
hit us. At the back of one stand, they sprayed pepper gas in my mouth."
The trial related to the "Hope Operation", which among others concerns
the murders of journalists Ugur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kislali, of
Prof. Dr. Muammer Aksoy and Assistant Prof. Dr. Bahriye Ucok, continued
on 14 December. After the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the court
decision for a second time, the case was heard again by the Ankara 11th
Heavy Penal Court. The defendants and their lawyers were given time to
prepare their defense. Public Prosecutor Salim Demirci repeated the
deliberations as they stood before the overturning of the decree. He
demanded that Ekrem Baytap be sentenced to a life sentence with severe
conditions for "attempting to force constitutional change", that Mehmet
Ali Tekin and Hasan Kilic serve up to 18 years and 9 months in prison
for "leading an armed terrorist organization with special duties",
that Abdulhamit Celik, Fatih Aydin, Yusuf Karakus and Mehmet Aydin
be sentenced to 12 years 6 months imprisonment for "membership in an
armed terrorist organization". In addition, the prosecutor opposed
the application of the Law on Resocialisation because "no congruent
information on the positions and activities of the organization"
On 10 December it emerged that the Ankara Police Department
has assigned protection to Hurriyet journalist Bekir Coskun. The
newspaper supplied Coskun with an armoured car whose windows cannot be
opened. Coskun stated that the authorities had asked him to request
protection. Although he did not ask for protection, he was assigned
a police officer to guard him. Coskun said: "The police must have a
reason. They did not tell me why. I receive threats every day.
After the Prime Minister said "Go", there has been an increase in
threats. Some newspapers publish pictures of me and my family and
turn me into a public target."
Emrullah Ozbey, owner of the local Mus Haber 49 newspaper in the
east of Turkey, said that he had been threatened for alleging that
a school rector who did not give contracts to the nephew of the AKP
province chair without a public bid was forcibly transferred by the
Mus Educational Authority. The journalist said that after his article
entitled "Exile for teacher who did not give AKP nephew contracts"
appeared in the Gunluk Evrensel newspaper on 1 December 2007, he was
threated by Orhan Aþýk, a friend of the AKP province chair, who came
to his office. Asik is said to have said, "You are going to change
that news. We are not like the Yilmazes (people who threatened Ozbey
before), we will shoot you. Mus is a small place…we will find you.
What will you do then?" Ozbey filed a criminal complaint. After giving
a statement to prosecutor Halit Tunc and leaving the court building,
he said that he was again threatened with death by Asik.
Ozbey filed another complaint, citing his lawyer Nurettin Tanis,
with whom he had left the building, as a witness.
At a DTP meeting in Van on 17 November with the "Enough", some
protesters unfolded a poster of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The
police intervened. When protesters reacted with stones and sticks,
two police officers and Kanal D reporter Ihsan Yildiz were injured.
25 people were arrested at the event.
On 9 November it was announced that the Trabzon Chief Public
Prosecution had opened a trial against two gendarmerie officers
(O.S. and V.S.) for "negligence" in the murder of Agos editor-in-chief
Hrant Dink. The prosecution sent the files of the two officers to the
Trabzon Criminal Court of Peace, arguing that although they had been
informed of murder plans, they had not acted on the information.
Erdal Dogan, a lawyer for the Dink family, said that V.S. had been
called to the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court in order to appear
as a witness. However, when the joint attorneys asked for him to be
questioned later, the request was granted.
On 7 November, Sabah newspaper’s sports reporter Deniz Derinsu and
photo reporter Oguz Yoruk were held up and attacked by some fans after
a match between Fenerbahce and PSV in Kadikoy, Istanbul. The Turkish
Journalists’ Society (TGC) condemned the knife attacks and said that
"we believe that the perpetrators will receive their punishment."
Mehmet Kara, the owner of the Istanbul Katilimci Maltepe newspaper,
has become the target of the Martyr Mothers’ Solidarity and Mutual
Aid Association for an article entitled "Is that acceptable?" In the
article, which was published on 1 November 2007, Kara had condemned
the attacks on DTP buildings and the looting of shops, saying: "The
people cannot provide the participation in the ‘Meetings against
Terrorism’ and ‘Republican Rallies’". He added, "one cannot help
but wonder why they do not target the US consulate or the (American)
Incirlik Military Base." Kara stated that before this article he had
been threatened by a group of up to twenty people, who had stormed his
office and told him to leave the district. On 28 November, so Kara,
another group, accompanied by dozens of police officers, came to his
office, threatened him and left a two-page statement.
On 5 November, Andreas Rompopoulos, a correspondent for the major Greek
TV Channel Mega, correspondent of Greek daily newspaper Eleftheros
Typos, and editor of the newspaper Hxo, which is published for the
Greek minority in Turkey, was attacked by unidentified assailants. He
suffered injuries to his head, hands and other parts of his body. None
of the injuries were life-threatening. The European Federation
of Journalists said that this attack is the latest in a series of
attacks against journalists by nationalistic elements in Turkey. It
condemned the attack and called for an immediate investigation. The
journalists’ Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN) also
called upon authorities’ to immediately identify and arrest all
persons responsible and deliver them to justice "in order to prevent
similar incidents in the future." The attack was also condemned by the
Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC) and the Contemporary Journalists’
On 30 October, 20-year old Mert Sahin’s trial for threatening
journalist Necati Abay with death began. Abay, a publisher
and spokesperson for the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned
Journalists, had written an article entitled "Another journalist has
been murdered, the ‘Good Kids’ killed Hrant Dink" on the eve of Hrant
Dink’s murder on 19 January. The Sultanahmet 8th Penal Court rejected
demands that the defendant be tried for "using the intimidating power
of real or putative criminal organizations in order to threaten" and
"obstructing the freedom of belief, thought and opinion," arguing
that the Sultanahmet Chief Public Prosecution had to decide on the
charges. The court case will continue on 6 February 2008.
On 29 October it emerged that an objection to the Trabzon regional
administrative court had been unsuccessful. The objection had
been against the refusal of the Trabzon Governor’s Office Province
Administrative Board to allow the prosecution of seven police officers,
who had been accused of negligence before and after the Hrant Dink
murder. The court decreed that there would be no trial of Ramazan
Akyurek, chief of the police intelligent department, Resat Altay,
the former chief of police in Trabzon, police officers Engin Dinc,
Faruk Sari, Ercan Demir, Ozkan Mumcu and Mehmet Ayhan, as well as
officer Muhittin Zenit, who, in a conversation with murder suspect
Erhal Tuncel said about Hrant Dink, "if he has snuffed it, then
he has snuffed it." Fethiye Cetin, lawyer of the Dink family, said
that the possibilities for effective requests to the judiciary were
On 25 October, three French journalists, Guillaume Perrier, Estelle
Vigoureux and Marc de Banville who had been detained during border pass
into Northern Iraq were released after thirthy hours. Perrier of the Le
Monde newspaper was released "with an apology", after it was found that
"he had nothing to do with the accusations." Vigoureux and Banville,
working for the Capa Agency, who had been accused of "recording in
a military area without permission", too were released a few hours
later. The journalists had recorded and made interviews in Hakkari,
Sirnak, and several other places and were heading to Northern Iraq
by car when they were stopped at the Habur border gate at around 9
am on 24 October. They were detained upon refusing the officials’
request to view their video recordings. When cameraman Banville
refused to hand over his camera, he was treated violently.
His glasses were broken and his camera was seized.
On 21 October, Zaman newspaper’s Erzurum reporter Oguz Selim Karahan
was attacked by police and private security officers when he went to
the Erzurum Numune Hospital in order to cover a news story. He had
been told that some people in hospital had been beaten by the police.
When he was filming in the emergency department, he was hit with
a truncheon, and the police sprayed pepper gas. He was surrounded
by police and as a result of the beating, he had to be treated in
On 14 October, it was reported that despite the demand of the Istanbul
14th Heavy Penal Court, Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler refused to
identify the two intelligence officers who had been with vice governor
Ergun Gungor and warned the journalist. In Guler’s two-page reply to
the court, sent on 27 September 2007, he said that the two people,
alleged to have "put Hrant Dink in his place", warned the journalist
of public reactions.
Emin Bal, reporter for the Dogan News Agency (DHA), had covered the
funeral of a PKK militant in Beytussebap. On 8 October, the Criminal
Court of Peace ordered that his office be searched and recordings be
confiscated in order to identify those shouting slogans supporting
Abdullah Ocalan. The police raided Bal’s office and confiscated CDs.
This event was the fifth violation of the protection of news sources
encountered by Bal and other journalists in the district since
On the night of 3 October, there was a tip-off about a bomb attack
on the Gundem newspaper office in Taksim, Istanbul. The police went
to the office, but found no one there. For security reasons, they
waited in front of the building until morning. When Salih Sezgin,
working for the administration of the newspaper, came to the office
at 8.30 am, he did not let the police enter the building, arguing
that they did not have a search warrant.
On 1 October, the second hearing in the Hrant Dink murder trial took
place at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court. O.S., the suspected
triggerman, said at the hearing: "Yasin Hayal forced me to do this. I
was so frightened I did not know what happened, I shot Hrant Dink.
When I was aware of my surroundings again, I was at my uncle’s place.
I could not sleep that night. I regret it; I did not know that he had
family. Had I known, I would not have shot him." O.S. claimed that
Tuncay Uzundal and Yasin Hayal had organized the murder and that
he had attempted to stop it. He added that Hayal had given him two
ecstacy tablets in order to give him courage, and that he had smoked
marihuana and then taken the pills on the morning before the murder.
The Dink family filed a complaint about the conversation between
Muhittin Zenit and Tuncel. The trial of Halis Egemen, Yasar Cihan,
Erhan Tuncel, Yasin Hayal, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz, Ersin Yolcu, Ahmet
Iskender, Mustafa Ozturk, Tuncay Uzundal, Salih Hacisalihoglu, Alper
Esirgemez, Irfan Ozkan, Osman Alpay, Erbil Susaman, Numan Sisman,
Senol Akduman, Veysel Toprak and Hayal’s brother-in-law Coskun Igci
will continue on 11 February 2008.
The prosecution of two officers in relation to the pictures taken of
Hrant Dink’s murder suspect O.S. and gendarmerie and police officers
began o 28 September. Officers had taken photos of O.S. and officers
with a Turkish flag in the tea room of the Samsun Anti-Terrorism
Police Department. When the first hearing was not attended by Metin
Balta, the acting director of the Anti-Terrorism branch, and police
chief Ibrahim Firat, the hearing was postponed in order to take their
statements and evaluate demands. Bahri Bayram Belen, a lawyer for
the Dink family, demanded that the case against the two officers be
combined with the main murder case at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal
Court. In addition, Belen asked for the Dink family to be accepted
as third-party plaintiffs.
It emerged that the killing of Kasim Ciftci, owner of the Hakkari
Province Voice newspaper, in Van on 22 September was motivated
by personal reasons rather than being related to his journalistic
activities. A few days after the killing, A.B. and G.A., an engaged
couple and said to be acquainted with the journalist, were arrested
for the murder.
On 19 September, nationalist singer Ismail Turut and composer Arif
Sirin (also known as Ozan Arif) arrived at the Sultanahmet Law Court
in order to make statements to Press Prosecutor Nurten Altinok. An
investigation has been started into the song "Plan, Don’t make a
plan", composed by Sirin and sung by Turut. It is said to include
references to and praise of the suspected murderers of journalist
Hrant Dink. In addition, the song was put on the Internet website
YouTube with a video clip about the murder.
Turut and Sirin arrived with a 20-strong body guard. When they left
the building again, Radikal reporter Serkan Ocak asked, "Are these
people your body guard?" Ocak was pointed at and threatened by a guard,
who said, "Be careful!" Journalist Ali Bayramoglu, who had written
about the clip, has been threatened, and yesterday Turut and Sirin’s
lawyer Omer Yesilyurt chose the same tone in front of the law court:
"The ink on Elif Safak’s novel has not dried. I call on all columnists
who are burying their heads in the sand when people say "Armenians
were murdered". We will continue to say what we know.
Everyone should know their limits."
On 20 September, Sirin threatened Yeni Safak journalist Ali Bayramoglu
on Fox TV. Bayramoglu had been the first journalist to draw attention
to the song and the clip on Youtube. Sirin said, "I am surprised at Ali
Bayramoglu’s attitude in this case. What is such a writer doing in such
a climate? The community has to monitor this writer."Bayramoglu has
been threatened before. On 4 July 2007 he wrote an article entitled
"Our Life is in Danger", in which he emphasized the importance of
solving Hrant Dink’s murder. He then received an anonymous email
which read, "If you continue writing like this, you will end like
Hrant Dink." Bayramoglu took the note to the prosecution.
The lawyers of the Dink family have objected to the Trabzon Governor’s
Office refusing permission for the questioning of police officers
suspected of negligence in the Dink murder. The lawyers based their
argument on the report prepared by the investigators attached to the
Ministry of the Interior and have demanded the investigation of Ramazan
Akyurek, the president of the police intelligence branch, Resat Altay,
the former Trabzon chief of police, as well as officers Engin Dinc,
Faruk Sari, Ercan Demir, Ozkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit and Mehmet Ayhan.
"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.
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.
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
31 July, but there has been no development in finding the perpetrators.
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 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.
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.’"
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.
A busload of journalists who were following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan to a party rally in Nigde on 26 June, claim that they were
stopped by prime ministerial bodyguards, who held a gun to the bus
driver’s head and stopped the bus from following the prime minister’s
vehicle. Journalists Yalcin Bayer (Hurriyet newspaper), Hadi Ozisik
(Star newspaper) and Sedat Simsek (Bugun newspaper) were witnesses
of the threats. The Prime Ministerial Press Centre rejected their
accounts and said that the journalists had ignored warnings and were
acting threateningly themselves.
Omer Perperik, founder and columnist of the local Ekspres newspaper
in Mudanya (a district of Bursa, western Turkey), was punched by
Mudanya mayor Erol Demirhisar at a municipality meeting. The Mudanya
Journalists’ Association condemned the attack.
In May, Dogan News Agency head clerk Ahmet Ertan was trying to film
a wedding convoy in Edremit (a district of Balýkesir, western Turkey).
Erhan claims that police stopped him from filming, insulted him in a
police vehicle, and forced him to delete recordings. The Balýkesir
Journalists’ Society has condemned the incident as a "blow to the
freedom of speech".
Mehmet Eser, licence holder of Bingol’s local Ab-i-Hayat newspaper,
and editor Faysal Sonakalan, are suing the regional director of
education Mehmet Ali Hansu for threatening them at his office. They
say the threats stem for their article on a local primary school
which is not earthquake proof. Bingol, in the east of Turkey, has
witnessed the deaths of many children in earthquakes.
Many journalists observing the trade unions’ 1 May rally in Taksim,
Istanbul, claim they were targeted by police although they were
obviously journalists. Alper Turgut, Vedat Arik, Aynur Colak and Berat
Guncikan of the Cumhuriyet newspaper were injured or affected by tear
gas. Bulent Ergun of the Vatan newspaper was attacked and threatened
with arrest. Demet Bilge Ergun, Timur Soyka, Umay Aktas, and Ismail
Saymaz of the Radikal newspaper and Ihsan Yildiz of television channel
Kanal D were also attacked. A camera of Su TV was broken.
In Izmir, the office of local newspaper Yeni Asir was attacked and
damaged by football hooligans (supporting Goztepe football club)
on 17 April. One person was later arrested.
Yuksel Mert, a TV presenter at the local Akdeniz TV station in Adana
(southern Turkey), and his guest, Zeki Kizilkaya, editor of the
regional Cukurova Merhaba newspaper, were attacked by three people
after they discussed corruption in a programme aired on 14 April. The
three attackers, said to be involved in corruption, were later arrested
for the attack.
Dogan Sonmez, reporter for the Venus radio station in Manavgat, Antalya
(southern Turkey), was attacked by an unknown person who came to the
station on 11 April. An investigation is underway.
Turkan Pampal, reporter for the 4 Temmuz newspaper in Karamursel
(district of Kocaeli, western Turkey), claims that she has been
threatened by leaders and members of the ruling Justice and Development
Party’s (AKP) youth branch after criticising the government’s health
policy. She has had no reply to her complaint to the prosecution,
and water supplies to her home have been cut.
Furthermore, a cafe owned by the newspaper’s owner, Salih Kandir,
has been visited by fiscal inspectors every day since the threats.
On 6 April, the Day of Murdered Journalists, the president of the
Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC) Orhan Erinc made a statement at
teh grave of Serbesti journalist Hasan Fehmi, the first journalist to
be killed in Turkey, in 1909. Erinc said that like other journalists’
associations they were calling on not only the perpetrators but also
the planners of Hrant Dink’s murder to be brought to justice. Erinc
called on the government and the relevant ministries to take urgent
steps to safeguard the lives of journalists, pointing out that there
had been an increase in threats received by journalists expressing
their opinions and thoughts.
Journalists working for the Diyarbakir branch of Kurdistan TV, which
is based in Northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, have complained that
their work facilities are limited in a random manner, and that they
are being pressured and threatened. At the end of March, the channel’s
Diyarbakir representative Mehmet Eren said that the channel had carried
out the legal procedures for their Diyarbakir branch in 2006, but that
they were being obstructed: "Most of the time, they do not allow us
to enter evetns, and if they do, we are subjected to long identity
checks. Most of our news items relate to the Kurdish issue. When we
prepare them, we are met with different obstructions and condescension.
The Turkish Revenge Brigade (TIT), which gave rise to the attack on
Akin Birdal, president fo the Human Rights Assocation (IHD) in 1998,
sent Ozgur (Free) Radio a threatening email on 27 March. The message
threatened those working at the station with death and said, "Stop
your separatist broadcasts. We are watching you. We know who lives
where. We warn you for the last time." The radio station took the
threats to court. Ever since the murder of Agos editor-in-chief Hrant
Dink, there has been an increase in death threats against activists.
Other people who have been threatened include academics Prof. Dr.
Baskin Oran, Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu, human rights activist Eren
Keskin, Publisher Necati Abay and singer Ferhat Tunc.
Erhan Tuncel, a police informant accused of having planned the Hrant
Dink murder, is said to have warned the Trabzon police about Yasin
Hayal and the planned Dink murder not 4, but 17 times. This development
was reported in the press on 23 March. In addition, the report by the
investigators attached to the Ministry of the Interior have demanded
that Istanbul Chief of Police be served a reprobation.
The Sirnak Beytussebap Prosecution issued a search and confiscation
warrant for the police to search the office of DHA reporter Emin
Bal on 21 March in order to confiscate materials from the Newroz
celebrations organized by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party
(DTP). The warrant was justified with the fact that people had shouted
slogans in support of the PKK at the celebrations.
At a Newroz celebration organized at the Mimar Sinan Open Air Theatre
by the DTP, DHA reporter Fatih Karcali and NTV reporter Hamza Gul,
who were filming from the stage, were injured slightly when spectators
threw stones at them. The reporters received ambulatory care.
Bahri Belen and Fethiye Cetin, lawyers for the Hrant Dink, who was
murdered on 19 January, demanded on 15 March that the investigations
of the Istanbul prosecution and those carried out outside of Istanbul
should be joined. In a statement the lawyers said that there was
a terrorist organization behind the murder and that its aim was to
change the democratic structure of the country. The lawyers further
demanded that those public officers who had displayed gross negligence,
abuse of position or the covering up of the crime be investigated
under Article 250 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The Haber X (News X) website, which had been disabled by hackers,
returned to normal publication on 8 March. Representatives of the
site said that they had wasted a month. Because the hackers damaged
the data base and the software, the site was forced to publish on a
single page for some time.
On 7 March, Ibrahim Tig, owner and editor of the daily regional Bolge
News in Zonguldak’s Devrek district, filed a complaint against the wife
of Aytekin Sur, head physician of the Devrek State Hospital, claiming
that she attacked him. It is said that she attacked him because the
newspaper reported the doctor’s transferal to another hospital.
On 6 March it was realised that the broadcasting cables for ASR,
Radio Tek, Radio Life and Mert Radio, all stations in Adiyaman, had
been cut. The sabotage caused a two-day broadcasting cut and damage
to some equipment. The Adiyaman gendarmerie started an investigation.
The president of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Journalists’s
Society, Zeynel Abidin Kiymaz visited the Adiyaman prosecution on 14
March and demanded that light be shed on the sabotage. Burak Cansel,
writer for the Adiyaman Olay newspaper and programmer for the Tempo
Radio accused the leading personalities of the city of having ignored
On 5 March, the Beytussebap Chief Public Prosecutor Ahmet Bicer
issued a warrant to confiscate visual material and news items from
DHA reporter Emin Bal’s office. The prosecution was investigating
whether "propaganda of an illegal organization had been spread"
at a panel organised in the municipality building on 6 March. The
panel was organized by the DTP, and three lawyers from the Sirnak Bar
Association had been invited as speakers. The Southeastern Journalists’
Society said that Bal had been forced to hand over his tapes.
Two persons had attacked the office of the Ozgur (Free) Kocaeli
newspaper in Izmir in early February, objecting to the way the news
of a murder had been covered. A night watchman, Mehmet Sumer, was
stabbed. On 25 February, they attacked the office again and stabbed
an employee, Yucel Sinan. Sinan was stabbed in the back and had to
undergo an operation, but then recovered. Ismet Cigit, the owner of the
newspaper, expressed his anger at the two attacks, saying: "These are
two more examples of the excessive yobbish behaviour, of the disregard
for the law, and of the derision with which the state is treated."
On 11 February, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD)
announced that infamous mafia leader Alaattin Cakici had threatened
the association’s former member of the management board, Can Dundar.
Dundar is the producer of the "Why?" programme on NTV. Cakici is in
prison and from there sent Dundar a threatening letter after former
Foreign Intelligence Branch Head Nuri Gundes spoke approvingly of
the mafia leader on Dundar’s programme. The CGD condemned the attack,
and Dundar was given protection.
On the night of 8 February, a laptop and the hard drives of the other
computers were stolen from the Istanbul office of the Ankara News
Agency (ANKA). The Beyoglu Police Chief Tugrul Pek who examined the
site said that it did not look like a simple robbery. Anka’s Istanbul
representative Lutfiye Pekcan said that the robbery may be a result
of the debate on revealing sources after Bulent Orakoglu and Ceyhan
Mumcu wrote about Erhan Tuncel, suspect in the Hrant Dink murder.
On 6 February, NTV cameramen Ibrahim Atesoglu and Mahmut Bozarslan,
Sabah newspaper reporter Huseyin Kacar and Star newspaper reporter
Veysi Ipek are said to have been beaten by the security personel of the
Diyarbakir Dicle University Medical Faculty Hospital. The reporters
were trying to cover the condition of a survivor of a collapsing
building but were obstructed by the hospital security personel.
On 29 January, the ww.aktifhaber.com news website was attacked
by hackers who deleted the mainpage and then wrote "None of you
are Armenian, you are all O.S." referring to the murder suspect
in the Hrant Dink case and writing his name in full. The website
managers applied to the prosecution. The hackers used the names
Aziz Ozer, owner of the North Culture Art and Literature Magazine
and the Call for a New World newspaper received a death threat by
email on 24 January. Ozer, who is appealing to the European Court
of Human Rights against his conviction under Article 301, said:
"These threats show us clearly that we have to take them seriously
and deal with them."
Necati Abay, spokesperson for the Platform for Solidarity with
Imprisoned Journalists (TGDP), wrote an article entitled "The ‘Good
Guys’ killed Hrant Dink" on the day that Dink was murdered. He
announced that he was sent an email containing death threats on 22
January. He filed a complaint and was allocated protection by the
police. However, the journalist said that this was no solution and
rejected the guard.
On 19 January, Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos
newspaper was shot dead in front of his office in Istanbul. Many
national and international journalists’ associations condemned his
murder. Joost Lagendij, co-chair of the delegation to the EU-Turkey
Joint Parliamentary Committee, said: "Dink was a person with a
political dimension who struggled for the freedom of expression; he
played an important role in furthering discussion on the genocide
in Turkey." Ollie Rehn, EU Commissioner for Enlargement, said he
was "shocked and saddened by the brutal attack." Gunter Verheugen,
vice president of the European Commission, said: "I condemn the act,
but I congratulate Turkey on its stand against the attack."
A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the central office of the
twice-weekly "Peninsula’s Voice" in Mugla’s Datca district in the
south-west of Turkey. Ali Geremeli, owner of the newspaper and reporter
for the Anadolu Agency (AA) said that the Molotov cocktail was thrown
at the area where the papers for the newspaper issues were being kept:
"In the fire, the computer cables were damaged. We have no problem
with anyone. I don’t understand why this happened."
Detentions and Arrests Erdal Guler, responsible manager of the Devrimci
(Revolutionary) Demokrasi newspaper, who had been taken into custody
after a five-month prison sentence and fines were confirmed, was
arrested on 26 December.
On 22 December, Lig TV cameramen Umit Kul and Ali Demir were exposed
to police violence after a football match between Fenerbahce and
Trabzonspor. The two reporters were taken into custody. When they
were released they filed a complaint against the police. The police
also filed a criminal complaint against Kul and Demir for resisting
against the police.
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. Some of the defendants have been charged with
"trying to change the constitutional order by force."
On 25 October, three French journalists, Guillaume Perrier, Estelle
Vigoureux and Marc de Banville who had been detained during border pass
into Northern Iraq were released after thirthy hours. Perrier of the Le
Monde newspaper was released "with an apology", after it was found that
"he had nothing to do with the accusations." Vigoureux and Banville,
working for the Capa Agency, who had been accused of "recording in
a military area without permission", too were released a few hours
later. The journalists had recorded and made interviews in Hakkari,
Sirnak, and several other places and were heading to Northern Iraq
by car when they were stopped at the Habur border gate at around 9
am on 24 October. They were detained upon refusing the officials’
request to view their video recordings. When cameraman Banville
refused to hand over his camera, he was treated violently.
His glasses were broken and his camera was seized.
Yuksekova News reporter Omer Oguz, IHA reporters Nevzat Tas and Kerim
Kantarcioglu, and Yeni Safak reporter Muslum Bayburs were briefly
detained on 22 October after attempting to film the military movements
on the border between Turkey and Iraq. They were taken into custody
after filming a military convoy and held for two hours at a police
station attached to the Yuksekova District Gendarmerie Command. After
an identity check they were released.
On 26 September, Idris Akboga, the editor of the Ozgur Halk (Free
People) magazine, was arrested when he went to the Istanbul 11th Heavy
Penal Court to give a statement regarding the September issue of the
magazine. He was then taken to Bayrampasa prison in Ýstanbul, but is
now in a F-type prison in Tekirdag. He stands accused of "praising a
crime and a criminal", "printing and publishing texts of a terrorist
organisation", "committing a crime through helping the members of
an illegal organisation or spreading propaganda". Erdinc Bolcal and
Fethullah Erkan, the owner and responsible manager of the magazine
respectively, were arrested when they went to give statements on 23
October. Accused of "spreading PKK propaganda", they were sent to
the Edirne F-type prison.
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. The police had been looking for
Cevizci since then.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Adem Ozkose, a long-time foreign correspondent for the Vakit newspaper
who then worked for the Gercek Hayat (Real Life) magazine, was taken
into custody by officers from the Terrorism branch on 26 June. Hulya
Sekerci, president of the Ozgur-Der association said that many Muslims
had been taken into custody in Bursa under suspicion of relations with
al-Qaeda. Fourteen of them were arrested. Ozkose was later released.
At the trial of 16 people accused of membership in the MLKP
organisation, ten were released pending trial on 13 April. Among
those in court for the first time and possible up for release from
detention in seven months time were Istanbul’s Ozgur (Free) Radio
news director Halil Dinc and radio employee Sinan Gercek.
After reporting allegations of prostitution, beatings and insults
from the police, Mustafa Koyuncu, responsible editor of the Emirdag
newspaper in Afyonkarahisar was detained in prison for a week. 44
police officers have filed a complaint against him, and a six-year
prison sentence and compensation claims of 440,000 YTL have been
demanded. On 12 March 2007, Koyuncu had published an article entitled
"Should we enter the EU like that? They abuse their authority." He
was arrested for "insulting via the press", and was released after
a week under the condition of printing a refutation.
Haci Orman, editor of the Art and Life magazine and chair of the
managing board of the BEKSAV culture centre, was taken into custody
by the Istanbul Anti-Terrorism Branch on 31 January. Many institutions
protested against this "illegal detention". Orman was later released.
Memik Horuz, editor-in-chief of the Isci Koylu (Worker Peasant)
magazine had been arrested in 2001, accused of being a member of
the TKP/ML TÝKKO (Turkish Communist Party/ Marxist Leninist Turkish
Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army). After spending five and a half
years in an F-type prison in Bolu, he was released on 30 January. Horuz
said that despite the promises given to lawyer Behic Asci when he
went on hunger-strike to protest against conditions in F-type prisons,
there had been no permission for meeting in groups at Bolu prison.
Trials and Investigations Concerned with Freedom of Press and
Expression The Gaziantep 1st Criminal Court of Peace ordered the
confiscation of the 32nd issue of the local "Coban Atesi" (Shepherd’s
Fire) newspaper after journalist Berkant Coskun wrote an article
entitled "Mother, Don’t Send Me to the Army". Coskun lives abroad,
but the owner of the newspaper, Yasin Yetisgen, stands accused of
"alienating the public from military service" (Article 318 of the
Penal Code) and is also charged with breaching Law No 5816 on Crimes
against Ataturk. The prosecution is demanding seven and a half years
imprisonment for Yetisgen. The trial will begin on 9 May 2008. The
journalist had written: "Unfortunately Turkey has been the arena
of dirty wars throughout its history, starting from Mustafa Kemal
[Ataturk] giving the order for the Dersim massacre…" and "If today’s
Kurdish movement is called terrorist, that means that the movement
started by Mustafa Kemal is no different. The only difference is that
Mustafa Kemal was not arrested."
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecution has sent a report to the Ministry
of Justice, requesting the lifting of the immunity of DTP’s Mardin
MP Ahmet Turk for "denigrating the state’s armed forces." Ahmet Turk
had reacted to the exclusion of his party’s MPs from the military
reception on 30 August, Victory Day, by saying: ""It has become clear
who is really being ‘separatist’, a word which they use continuously
[to blame others]." Should Turk’s immunity be lifted and a case be
brought, he could face a prison sentence of up to two years.
On 6 November, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the sentencing
of trade unionist Mehmet Hanifi Bekmezci, arguing that his utterances
were "heavy criticism" and did not represent a crime. On 29 September
2005, when president of the educational trade union Egitim-Sen in
Tunceli, Bekmezci had made a statement concerning the murder of Hasan
Sahin in Tunceli, as well as the murder of taxi driver Hasan Akdag by a
police officer. He claimed that the police started random arrests after
the events and obstructed press statements relating to these murders:
"On the command of the General Staff, civilian fascist powers were
mobilised and the planned lynching attempts and attacks in several
parts of our country are still fresh in our memory."
Bekmezci was then sentenced by the Tunceli Criminal Court of Peace,
which cited Article 301 and sentenced him to five months in prison,
later converted to a legal fine. Bekmezci’s lawyer Baris Yildirim
appealed, citing decisions by the European Court of Human Rights. The
Supreme Court of Appeals then overruled the local court’s sentence.
The Supreme Court of Appeal’s 9th Penal Chamber overturned lawyer and
human rights activist Eren Keskin’s punishment of 6,000 YTL on the
grounds of procedure. Keskin had been convicted of "insulting the
symbolic personality of the armed forces" after speaking of sexual
torture perpetrated by the state in a speech made in Germany in 2002.
Because Eren had not been given the right to additional defense,
the decision has been overturned. Keskin has faced many trials under
A trial against stand up comedian Murat Bagli for expressions used
during his show, and against Edip Polat and Eren Keskin for the talks
they gave at a panel entitled "Solutions to the Kurdish issue from
yesterday to today" continued on 19 December. They have been charged
with "inciting hatred and hostility". The case, which is being heard
at the Diyarbakir Penal Court, was postponed to 13 March 2008.
The trial of writer Osman Tiftikci, author of "The evolution of
the army from Ottoman times until now", and Sirri Ozturk of Sorun
Publications is to continue on 31 January 2008. They are being tried
for "denigrating the army" (Article 301). Tiftikci lives abroad,
and an arrest warrant has been issued. The trial was initiated by a
complaint filed by the General Staff.
Sait Bayram and Firat Avci , news editor and journalist of " Soz "
TV and newspaper respectively, were arrested in Diyarbakir on 18 June
and released on 20 July. They had published an article claiming that
judge Mehmet Yucel of Diyarbakir’s first criminal court of peace had
been transferred because he had accepted bribes. On 18 June 2007,
the two journalists had published an article entitled "He has been
transferred to Diyarbakir for taking bribes". They had been arrested
for "insulting local authorities in print". The journalists were
kept in prison until their first hearing. They are now being tried
by a penal court in Diyarbakir. Editor-in-chief Omer Buyuktimur said
at the time of their arrest, "We are saddened, we made news and we
stand behind our news." The next hearing will be on 28 February 2008.
Singer Ferhat Tunc’s latest trial was opened for an article on Leyla
Zana, which he wrote for the "Yeniden Ozgur Gundem" newspaper on 19
January 2004. The trial has been going on for four years. Article
301 of the Turkish Penal Code has been applied to charge the singer
with "insulting and deriding the court" in the article entitled "A
Revolutionary Leyla and a Song". In the article, Tunc wrote about
the denial of release for Zana and the other DEP MPs. He said that he
was not suprised by this decision, arguing that the result had been
predictable, and that the trial was not legal but political. Ever
since, Tunc, as well as Mehmet Colak, the responsible editor who
lives abroad, have been on trial at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court in
Istanbul. At the latest hearing on Wednesday, 12 December, the trial
was postponed until 8 May 2008. An international organisation named
Freemuse, dedicated to the freedom of expression in the music sector,
has started a campaign to support Ferhat Tunc. As part of the campaign,
the organisation has sent letters to Prime Minister Erdogan and former
Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek, asking for the trial to be dropped.
On 13 December, the Tunceli Criminal Court of Peace acquitted DTP
province chair Murat Polat of any crime under Article 301. Polat
had said in a press release on 20 October 2007, "The provocations
organized by civilian fascists, manipulated by the police, and
supported by the bourgeois media aim at creating conflict between
peoples. The police, who is using lynching as a kind of weapon, can
even threaten revolutionary protesters against unfair detentions
with lynching." The court decreed that the statement represented
"heavy criticism" but no denigration of the police force. Two years
imprisonment had been demanded in the case.
The trials of Irfan Ucar, journalist for the Ulkede Ozgur Gundem
newspaper, and Umur Hozatli, film director, both on trial under
Article 301, continued on 12 December; the hearing will continue
on 22 May 2008 at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court. Ucar is on trial for
criticizing the punishment the Aram Publishers received for publishing
a book on missing journalist Nazim Babaoglu called "They say you are
missing." His article was entitled "Number 301" and was published on
13 December 2005. Hozatli is on trial for an article entitled "Lorin –
The Good Father at Work" which was published on 16 September 2006. In
the article Hozatli criticized the bomb attack in a park in Diyarbakir
which also led to the death of children.
The court case againstEmrullah Ozbey, owner of the mus Haber 49
newspaper, continued on 11 December. He is on trial for writing
that the Mus acting Director of Education, Yaviz Icyer organized
his own transfer. Icyer is demanding 10,000 YTL compensation for the
article entitled "This is neither a diet nor pickled cabbage" which
appeared on 5 January 2005. The court has demanded that therebe an
administrative investigation of Icyer. The case will continue on 24
January. The writer is also on trial before the Mus Penal Court for
the same article.
On 10 December, the prosecutor of the Izmir 8th Penal Court demanded
four and a half years imprisonment for Prof. Dr. Atilla Yayla,
arguing that he had violated Law No. 5816 on Crimes committed against
Ataturk. On 18 November 2006, Yayla participated in a panel discussion
along with Ali Bulac, a journalist with the "Zaman" daily newspaper,
and Zekeriye Akcam, an MP with the ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP). The event was organised by the AKP’s Izmir City Youth Group. The
discussion topic was "social reflections on the EU process". The
newspaper "Yeni Asir" later declared Yayla to be a "traitor",
and focusing on two sentences he used. The first was his referral
to Ataturk as "this man" (a transcription of the voice recordings
of the meeting later proved that he did not use that phrase); the
other was that he said that "’Kemalism’ was reactionary". (Mustafa
Kemal, known as "Ataturk" or "Father Turk", founded the modern
Turkish Republic.) The prosecutor argued that the utterances went
beyond academic explanations and contained insults to the memory of
Ataturk. The next hearing of the case is on 28 January 2008.
On 10 December, a case against Ismail Besikci, Ferzende Kaya and
Mehmet Ali Izmir was dropped by the court. Sociologist Ismail Besikci
had written an article entitled "We did not talk, we were suppressed"
for the December 2005 issue of the "Populer Kurtur Esmer" ("Popular
Kurture Dark"), a pro-Kurdish magazine published in Turkish and
Kurdish. Besikci as well as magazine owner Ferzende Kaya and editor
Mehmet Ali Izmir were then charged under Article 216 of the Turkish
Penal Code, i.e. "inciting hatred and hostility". Sentences of 4
years and six months each were being demanded. Ironically, the case
was dropped on Human Rights Day yesterday (10 December) because a
case was not opened within the stipulated 2 months from the date when
the issue of the magazine was delivered to the prosecution. The court
case had been initiated by a criminal complaint by the General Staff.
A court case against Osman Baydemir, mayor of Greater Diyarbakir,
continued on 6 December. Baydemir stands accused of "inciting
dangerous hatred and hostility" under Article 216 after saying in
an interview with Tempo magazine that "Turks and Kurds cannot live
together." Defense lawyer Ozcan Intas has argued that the words of
Baydemir and DTP Siirt province chair Murat Avci were mixed up and
asked for correction. The court granted this demand.
Ali Riza Vural, accused of "violating the secrecy of an investigation"
was to appear in court, the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court in Istanbul,
on 6 December 2007, but his hearing has been postponed to an unknown
date as the Bagcilar court is closing. The next hearing will be at
the Bakirkoy court.
The Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court has decreed lack of jurisdiction in the
case against journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak and has sent the file
to Bakirkoy’s 2nd Penal Court. Dilipak wrote an article entitled
"My country is something else", published in the Akit newspaper on 27
April 2001. In the article, he discussed the effects of the military
coups and warnings on the country’s economy and peace. Dilipak has
already been acquitted, together with responsible editor Mehmet Ozmen,
for two articles entitled "That was going to happen" and "Where
do we stand on 28 February?" Dilipak has a previous conviction for
"insulting the President."
On 5 December the trial against publisher Rapip Zarakolu of Belge
Publications continued. Ragip Zarakolu, owner of Belge Publications,
has been on trial for two years for publishing the Turkish translations
of Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan’s "Accounts of an Armenian Doctor: Garabet
Haceryan’s Izmir Diary" and George Jerjian’s "The Truth Will Set
Us Free". Zarakolu has been charged with "insulting and ridiculing
the state and the Republic" and "insulting the memory of Ataturk",
with 7.5 years imprisonment being demanded. While Zarakolu has been
acquitted in the trial concerning Sakayan’s book, the translator
Atilla Tuygan is still being tried. At the last hearing at the Istanbul
2nd Penal Court, a letter of support by Jerjian was presented to the
court. In the letter, which Jerjian sent from London on 1 June 2007,
it said: "I grew up in a family which was protected by a Turk, and
it was thus unthinkable for our family to have any bad intentions
or thoughts towards Turks." He added that he wrote the book himself
using information from Dr. Vahakn Dadrian, Dr.
Taner Akcam and journalist Stephen Kinzer. "I used their data to
develop a new understanding of history between Turks and Armenians."
The next hearing of the case is on 31 January 2008.
On 4 December, journalist and writer Perihan Magden was handed a
suspended prison sentence of one year and two months by the Istanbul
2nd Penal Court. An article published in the weekly Aktuel magazine
on 7 February led to her trial under Article 125 of the Penal Code,
for "those ascribing a concrete action or fact of a nature which can
injure someone’s honour and respectability, or those fabricating
facts or swearing". Magden was thus tried for insulting district
governor (Kaymakam) Aytac Akgul, then the Kaymakam of Yuksekova,
in the southeastern province of Hakkari. Magden wrote an article
entitled "The (Arrogant) Woman is the Wolf, the Fox, the Turkey of
Women: She Eats and Finishes", in which she described what people
told her of Kaymakam Akgul when she visited the area.
On 4 December the trial of lawyer Erdal Dogan began. Dogan, a joint
plaintiff in the Hrant Dink murder case, is on trial for his comments
on lawyer Fuat Turgut, defense lawyer for murder suspect Yasin Hayal.
When the Dink murder trial began on 2 July, Turgut said to the murdered
journalist’s family, "How many Armenians there are here!", following
which the two lawyers argued. Now Dogan is on trial for remarks he made
in the Aksam newspaper on 9 April 2007. In the article, entitled "The
Big Brothers Use the Law Well", Dogan said: "What should be on trial
is the targeting and threatening of Hrant Dink and the obstruction
of a just trial; when a murder suspect works as a lawyer, that is
when there is nothing left to say legally."
Based on these words, Fuat Turgut filed a criminal complaint against
Dogan. A trial, in which 5,000 YTL compensation are demanded, was
opened at Sariyer 2nd Criminal Court of Peace. Dogan’s lawyer Ercan
Kanar argues that the court is not authorised to hear the case and
that the Beyoglu Criminal Court of Peace should be in charge. The case
was adjourned until 5 February 2008 in order to await a decision on
who has jurisdiction.
On 4 December, the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of Peace acquitted Serpil
Koksal, Murat Dunsen and Ibrahim Kizartici of "putting the public off
military service". Koksal was present at the hearing, and the other
two defendants were represented by lawyer Suna Coskun. The reason for
their trial had been a press statement which Koksal read at support
gathering for conscientious objector Halil Savda in Ankara on 8 April,
and banners saying "Don’t Become a Soldier" which Dunsen and Kizartici
are said to have carried. The trial had begun on 20 September. The
fact that the defendants were aquitted means that there is no chance
of applying to the UN Human Rights Committee or the European Court of
Human Rights (ECHR) on the issue of conscientious objection. Koksal’s
lawyer Senem Doganoglu told bianet that an application to send Article
318 to the Constitutional Court has been rejected in court. "I believe
that a crime like ‘putting the public off military service’ has no
place in the Turkish Penal Code", said Doganoglu and added that the
court decision would be published in the next days.
On 30 November it emerged that reporter Ufuk Akkaya of the weekly
Aydinlik magazine has been given a suspended sentence of one year
imprisonment for defamation under Article 267/1 of the Penal Code.
Akkaya had written an article entitled "Ali Dibo’s Money went to
the AKP headquarters", published on 5 November 2006. In the article,
which was an interview with a Harun Ozkan, Akkaya asked him who had
threatened him. It was recorded that despite receiving a vague answer,
Akkaya wrote "Hayati Efendi directly threatened him."
On 30 November the Tunceli Criminal Court of Peace opened a trial
against Gokhan Turkan, Sancar and Zeki Saraca, following a tip-off
from the Tunceli police. The Tunceli prosecution has demanded that
they be punished for making a press statement and carrying posters in
memory of student revolutionary leaders Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Arslan
and Huseyin Inan on 6 May 2007. They stand accused of "praising
crime and criminals" (Article 215). Their lawyer Baris Yildirim said,
"People can commemorate Adnan Menderes [the Prime Minister who was
executed in the 1960s]. No trials are opened. The name of General
Mustafa Mugla, who summarily executed villagers in 1943 can be given
to a military barracks. Nobody opens a trial there."
On 29 November, prosecutor Ergun Tokgoz of the Diyarbakir 4th
Heavy Penal Court demanded that Diyarbakir MP Aysel Tugluk from the
pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and Diyarbakir province
party chair Hilmi Aydogdu be imprisoned for "spreading propaganda
of a terrorist organisation". At the hearing on 29 November,
Tokgoz presented his deliberations. He argued that Tugluk’s
parliamentarian immunity should be lifted, citing Articles 14 and
83/2 of the constitution. According to Tokgoz, Tugluk "has accepted
the terrorist organisation PK as a peaceful and democratic solution",
has "spoken of the state’s imposition on Kurdish citizens who are
citizens of the Turkish Republic", and "has spread propaganda in front
of the participants by presenting the terrorist organisation PKK as
pacificists and democrats." The two defendants are being tried under
Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law and five years imprisonment are
being demanded. Tugluk and Aydogdu’s lawyer Fethi Gumuþ argued that
his client Tugluk was an MP and could thus not be tried. He called
for the trial to be dropped. Court president Judge Cengiz Coban set
the next hearing for 25 December in order for the defense to prepare.
On 2 December, the 2nd Administrative Court in Diyarbakir has refused
to follow the demand of the Governor’s Office to stop the "multilingual
services" of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir.
Abdulla Demirbas, the former mayor of the Sur municipality,
was dismissed from his office by the State Council, following
the appeal by the Ministry of the Interior, which had claimed that
"multilingual services violate the constitution". The Diyarbakir 2nd
Adminstrative Court acknowledged that the Sur municipal council had
not presented its concept of multilingual municipal services to the
governor for approval, but only to the Greater Diyarbakir Municipal
Mayor’s Office. The court argued, however, that there was no clear and
obligatory administrative process that was supposed to be followed,
and thus dismissed the case.
After a support visit to the imprisoned mayor of the Yakapinar
municipality in Diyarbakir, Osman Keser, two court cases with three
seperate charges were opened against the visitors. Ethem Acikalin,
branch president of the Human Rights Association, Yurdusev Ozsokmenler,
the DTP Diyarbakir Baglar municipality mayor, Emrullah Cin, mayor
of the Viransehir municipality, Cihan Sincar, mayor of Kiziltepe,
Muhsin Kunur, mayor of Silopi, and Leyla Guven, mayor of Kucukdikili,
face a total of 8 years imprisonment for "attempting to influence
the judiciary." The defendants had said, "This detention is an
unlawfulness," and "All Kurds are unhappy about this situation.
They want these kind of events to stop. We want to live on this soil
and we support all of our friends."
On 29 November the court case against Hakan Tastan and Turan
Topal continued at the Silivri 2nd Penal Court (in the province
of Istanbul). In July, the prosecution had demanded acquittal fort
he defendants who stand accused of "degrading Turkishness, inciting
hatred and hostility" and "collecting data illegally" (Articles 301/1,
216/1 and 135/1). However, Kemal Kerincsiz, a nationalist lawyer of
the Great Lawyers’ Union, and ten other lawyers had joined the case
as third-party plaintiffs and demanded a change of judge.
Under judge Neset Eren no witnesses had been heard, but the court
will now hear 12 witnesses, most of whom are gendarmerie officers
who took part in taking the two defendants into custody. The court
case will continue on 13 March 2008.
A case in which retired judge Zekeriya Dilsizoglu is claiming 100,000
YTL compensation from Nurgun Balcioglu, the editor-in-chief of the
Gaziantep Sabah newspaper, continued on 29 November. Balcioglu had
criticised Dilsizoglu’s claim that "in nine out of ten murder cases
a woman is involved." The Bakirkoy 8th Civil Court of First Instance
adjourned the case until 14 February 2008 because information on the
financial situation of both sides had not been received. Balcioglu
had written an article entitled "Is that juge THAT judge?" on 15
February 2007. She had criticised the former judge as a mysogynist,
giving as an example the fact that a death notice for his brother
published in newspapers did not include the names of either of his
two wives. Dilsizoglu then sued for compensation from Balcioglu, as
well as newspaper owner Ayten Kale and responsible editor Fethullah
Kapkapci for "heavy insult of a person."
The case or Birgun newspaper’s report Gokhan Gencay and responsible
editor Ibrahim Cesmecioglu was setn to the Istanbul Heavy Penal
Court. Gencay had interviewed conscientious objector Erkan Bolot and
the article was published in the Sunday supplement on 30 October 2005
under the headline "Let us dry out the human resources for war." The
journalist and editor are on trial for "alienating the public from
military service." The case was initially heard by the Beyoglu 2nd
Penal Court, which had decided to drop the case against Cesmecioglu.
However, when changes were made in laws, there was a disagreement
The case of reporter Birgul Ozbaris from the Ulkede Ozgur Gundem,
also charged with alienating the public from military service in her
articles, continues at the heavy penal court, too. An article entitled
"Don’t Shoot at your brothers", published on 24 April 2006 and an
article entitled "Conscientious objector Savda: Don’t do military
service", published on 9 April 2006 were cited. On 27 July, the same
court acquitted Perihan Magden, who had written an article entitled
"Conscientious objection is a human right", published in December
2005 in the Yeni Aktuel magazine.
On 28 November, the Istanbul 11th Heavy Penal Court refused the
request to join the cases of Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, former owner of Doz
Publications, and Ali Riza Vural. They are both on trial concerning the
two-volume book "Barzani and the Kurdish National Freedom Movement"
by Mesut Barzani. The court has decided to continue Okcuoglu’s trial
on 28 March 2008, after his address has been found out. Okcuoglu,
translator Vahdettin Ince and Bedri Vatansever, owner of the Can
Printing Press, are on trial under Article 312/2 of the former Penal
Code for "inciting to hatred and hostility" and Article 8/1-3 of the
Anti-Terrorism Law for "separatist propaganda" (which has now been
abolished) because the publication date was February 2003. It is
not clear yet on which basis Okcuoglu will be tried. When the book
was printed a second time in May 2005, Vural was put on trial on 5
October 2005, under Article 301/2 of the new penal code.
Up to two years imprisonment have been demanded fro Vural for the
charge of "insulting the Republic in printi" and he was expected
to appear at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court on 28 November. However,
because of the request for the merging of the two cases, there was
no hearing. The Penal Court will decide when editor Vural will have
his next hearing. While Okcuoglu is on trial for expressions such as
"Kurdistan", "Hakkar, a Kurdish province…." and "Turkish Kurdistan",
Vural faces trial because of the following exerpt: "The Kurds revolted
again and again, and stood up against imperialists and the regional
states depriving them of their rights. All revolts were suppressed
with violence. In Turkey, Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk] very seriously
oppressed the Kurds."
On 27 November, following the overturning of its first sentence by
the Supreme Court of Appeals for procedural reasons, the Istanbul
2nd Penal Court handed out the same sentence to Emin Karaca, writer
for the "Write in Turkey and in Europe" magazine. Karaca had been
tried under Article 301 for criticising the army for the execution of
student revolutionary leaders Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin
Inan in 1972. Karaca, Dogan Ozguden and Mehmet Emin Sert had been
sentenced to a prison sentence converted into a 900 YTL fine in
September 2005. Because there was a signature missing on the record
of decision, the Supreme Court overruled the sentence. Then, Sert
was aquitted and Ozguden’s file separated from Karaca’s.
Yalcin Ergundogan, the editor-in-chief of the sesonline.net website
wrote an article entitled "The disciples have rebelled against Haydar
Bas", which was published in the "Birgun" newspaper on 26 April 2005.
Haydar Bas, chair of the Independent Turkey Party (BTP) then demanded
compensation. The Beyoglu 4th Civil Court of Peace has sentenced
Yalcindogan to paying 1,500 YTL (around 850 Euros). The criminal trial
which was opened following Bas’s complaints, and in which three years
imprisonment are demanded, started at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court
on 26 December. Because requested information about Bas had not been
received by the court, the next hearing was set for 14 May 2008.
Journalist Ergundogan had announced that he will appeal against the
court decision and said: "Is it not a news item that disciples who
spent a long time with Haydar Bas, the chair of a party, have left
the sect and have published their reasons on an Internet website
[entitled: ‘The real face of Haydar Bas’]?" Ergundogan has also been
taken to a court for intellectual and industrial property rights,
where there is a compensation claim of 15,000 YTL against him. That
case will continue on 4 June 2008.
On 22 November, a trial began against a reporter, a human rights
activist and a villager. Because they claimed that "village guards
use state bombs to hunt fish", reporter Rojda Kizgin of the Dicle
News Agency, Ridvan Kizgin, former president of the Bingol branch
of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the inital person making
the claim, Dogan Adibelli, have been taken to court at the Criminal
Court of First Instance in Bingol, southeastern Turkey. Following
the complaints filed by seven people, initially the Bingol Criminal
Court of Peace tried the three under Article 301/2 for "denigrading
the state of the Turkish republic and the army and police forces".
Between six months and two years imprisonment were demanded. Defense
lawyer Servet Ozen from the Diyarbakir bar association criticised
the fact that a trial was opened under Article 301. He said: "Village
guards are not part of the security forces. In addition, if there is
something to be investigated, it is the claim that has been made."
The Bingol Criminal Court of Peace has decided to hand the case over
to the Criminal Court of First Instance.
The Beytussebap Prosecution has opened a trial against DHA reporter
Emin Bal for "not informing the police" when pro-PKK slogans were
shouted at a funeral he was reporting on. The journalist’s trial under
Article 278, which foresees a punishment of up to a year imprisonment
for neglecting to inform authorities of a crime committed, will start
at the Beytusebap Criminal Court of Peace on 17 January. Bal said:
"I told the judge that I was fulfilling my duty as a reporter and
did not do anything wrong."The Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC)
pointed out that journalists could not be forced to make statements
and inform on others. Press Council President Oktay Eksi said: "We
hope that the people who ignored our warnings when creating these
laws will now be shamed by such events."
On 16 October, the Penal Court in Viransehir, province of Sanliurfa in
the southeast of Turkey, convicted human rights activist and lawyer
Eren Keskin of "incitement to hatred and hostility". for saying, "If
we look at the state statistics on perpetrators of sexual violence in
Turkey and Kurdistan, then soldiers are in the majority; the reason
there are so many is the war in Kurdistan." Keskin was informed of
the sentence, which cited Article 312/2 of the former Penal Code,
on 20 November. Huseyin Ugurlu decreased the sentence to 10 months
due to "the possible effects of the sentence on the defendant" and,
based on Article 4 of Law No. 647, converted the sentence to a fine
of 3,300 YTL. The court had decreed that the use of "Kurdistan"
"incited hatred and hostility of one social group against another
based on regional difference". Ironically, in another investigation
against the human rights activist in Bulanik, the prosecution decided
that although the term "Kurdistan" was unacceptable, it represented
an opinion and did not prosecute.
The 20 November saw the continuation of the trial against 56 mayors
who, on 30 December 2005, had sent Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh
Rasmussen a letter in which they asked for the Kurdish Roj TV channel
to remain open. 54 of the mayors were of the pro-Kurdish Democratic
Society Party (DTP) and two of the Social Democratic People’s Party
(SHP). The mayors are now on trial for "knowingly and willingly
helping a terrorist organisation", or more precisely, for "helping
the organisation by preventing the taking away of a visual propaganda
medium of the terrorist organisation". The prosecution is asking for
sentences of between 7.5 and 15 years for 53 mayors. The acquittal of
three has been demanded. The defendants are being tried under Articles
314/3 and 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code. Following the demand of the
joint attorneys, the Diyarbakri 5th Heavy Penal Court has decided to
evaluate the Turkish translation of the letter concerning the refusal
to close Roj TV by the Danish Media Secretariate. The court case is
to continue on 29 January 2008.
On 16 November, the Salihli 1st Criminal Court of First Instance
acquitted Ayse Karakaya and 19 others of "praising a crime and a
criminal" after they had gathered at the grave of Ertugrul Karakaya,
a student representative who had been killed 30 years earlier at
the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTU) in Ankara. Last year,
his 73-year old mother Ayse Karakya and 19 other people attending a
memorial at his graveside in Salihli were charged with "praising a
crime and criminal" under Article 215 of the Turkish Penal Code. The
prosecution based its charges on a police record which said that
Karakaya had died while "battling against gendarmerie". The slogan
"Ertugrul has not died, the struggle continues", which was shouted
at the memorial was thus construed as praise of a crime. The Chief
Public Prosecutor has appealed against the aquittal, and the case
has thus been taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The Sarkoy Penal Court has sent the file on Yakup Onal, writer
for the Sarkoy’s Voice newspaper to an expert witness. Yakup Onal,
journalist of the "Sarkoy’s Voice" newspaper is charged with insulting
the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayor Can Gursoy and two
municipal councillors. The Sarkoy Penal Court in the province of
Tekirdag in Thrace has decided that an expert opinion is necessary
in order to decide whether the journalist’s article entitled "Fairy
tales for adults- Pinocchio and the nine dwarves" represents a crime.
Court president Serkan Ýcoz has announced that the file will be sent
to the Istanbul Duty Penal Court and the trial will be continued on 20
February 2008. The newspaper had started a series called "President
Pinocchio and the nine dwarves" on 20 July 2005. The story started,
"Once upon a time…in a country, there was a president called
Pinocchio in a coastal town called Sarki. Pinocchio had nine dwarves
who approved all of his decisions like a suction pump." The prosecution
has demanded 10 years imprisonment, arguing that Onal has insulted
the mayor and municipal councillors Olcay Yucel and Ercan Yucel.
Following an article in which he accused the police of being involved
in prostitution, beatings and insults, editor Mustafa Koyuncu of the
Emirdag newspaper was first taken to prison for a week. Then, 44 police
officers filed a complaint against him, which has resulted in a trial
in which 6 years imprisonment and 440,000 YTL compensation are being
demanded. On 12 March 2007, Koyuncu had published an article entitled
"Should we enter the EU like that? They abuse their authority." He
was arrested for "insulting via the press", and was released after
a week under the condition of printing a refutation.
The case will continue at a court in Emirdag on 30 January 2008.
On 14 November, there was a hearing in the case against Ersen Korkmaz,
owner of the local Demokrat Iskenderun newspaper. He is not being tried
under Article 301, but under its predecessor in the old Turkish Penal
Code, Article 159. After watching a panel organised by the Turkish
Communist Party (TKP) and writing an article entitled "The Leader
of the Kurds Has Been Taken and Delivered to the Fascists", Ersen
Korkmaz, as well as TKP member Necmettin Salaz have been charged with
"insulting and ridiculing the army and security forces", a charge which
carries a three-year prison sentence.The panel took place in September
2002. At today’s (14 November) hearing at the Iskenderun Penal Court,
it was decided that the analysis of a CD with recordings from the
panel would be waited for. The next hearing is on 14 March 2008.
On 13 November, the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court increased the
punishment for Sebati Karakurt, reporter for the Hurriyet newspaper,
who had interviewed Kongra-Gel militants on the Kandil Mountain and
is on trial for "publishing statements of an illegal organisation."
Prosecutor Savas Kirbas increased the fine, of which Karaurt had
prepaid 455 YTL, to 20,000 YTL. The court case will continue on 26
February 2008. The feature in question, entitled "In Kandil feminism
has gone beyond Kurdish nationalism", was published in the "Hurriyet"
newspaper on 10 October 2004. At first Karakurt and Kilic were accused
of publishing terrorist statements. Later, Kilic and Tatlican were
also accused of spreading terrorist propaganda. Hasan Kilic and Necdet
Tatlican, responsible editors at the newspaper, have been sentenced
to paying two thousand and a thousand daily fines, amounting to 40,000
YTL and 20,000 YTL in advance payments.
On 12 November, Istanbul Press Prosecutor Nurten Altinok has
decided to drop proceedings against journalist Umur Talu of the
Sabah newspaper. Following a complaint of the General Staff, "Sabah"
journalist Umur Talu had been investigated for an article in which
he had expressed the dissatisfaction of sergeants within the army. In
the prosecutor’s decision, it said: "[The author] had stated that as
part of the journalistic profession and as a humane necessity, he had
wanted to describe the situation of a group within the Armed Forces and
to improve it." The General Staff’s complaint was based on an article
by Talu published on 12 June 2007 and entitled, "Are these impossible?"
Under Article 95/4 of the Military Penal Code, a sentence ranging
from six months to three years was being demanded. The legal article
also envisages an increment in the sentence because a published text
On 8 November, the court trial against Abdullah Demirbas, former
mayor of the Sur (City Walls) municipality of Diyarbakir, as well
as 19 members of the municipal council and Osman Baydemir, mayor of
Greater Diyarbakir, began. Abdullah Demirbas was forced from office
by the State Council’s 8th Chamber in June for offering municipal
services not only in Turkish, but also in Kurdish, Armenian and
Syriac. He had also been accused of "spreading propaganda for a
terrorist organisation or its aims", but was acquitted in that trial.
The twenty-one defendants are charged with "harming the public by
abusing their position" (Article 257 of the Turkish Penal Code) and
"acting in contradiction with the hat and Turkish letters" (Article
222). Punishments between 1 year and 2 months and 3 years and 6
months are being demanded. Demirbas, Baydemir and the 19 council
members, all undetained, were present at the trial opening, as well
as 12 defense lawyers. Lawyer Sezgin Tanrikulu, president of the
Diyarbakir Bar Association, said: "Article 257 looks at damage to
the public. Here it is not clear who has suffered in what way. I am
not able to understand what kind of crime is supposed to have been
committed." The court trial will continue on 29 February 2008.
On 6 November, Haci Bogatekin, owner of the Adiyaman Gerger Firat
newspaper was in court again. 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 once
again. He had written: "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." A sentence of two years imprisonment is being
demanded. The case will continue on 16 January 2008.
The Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals has
objected against the overturning of the acquittal of Prof. Dr. Ibrahim
Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran, authors of the "Minority Rights
and Cultural Rights Report." The prosecutor argued that there was no
evidence of a "clear and present danger" to public order represented by
the report. On 10 May 2007, the Ankara 28th Penal Court had acquitted
Prof. Dr. Kaboglu, the former president of the Human Rights Advisory
Board, and Prof. Dr. Oran, the president of the sub-commission, of
any crime committed under Article 216/1. The court had used Article
216/1 because the Ministry of Justice had not given permission for
a trial under Article 301 ("degrading Turkishness").
Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Huseyin Boyrazoglu had then filed
an appeal against the acquittal, and the case had been brought to
the Supreme Court of Appeal’s Eighth Chamber, which had overruled
the acquittal. Now the objection of the Appeals Prosecution will be
debated in the Supreme Court of Appeal’s Penal Board Meeting.
Tahir Elci is the lawyer representing the Kaymaz family in the case
concerning the killing of Ahmet Kaymaz and his 12-year-old son Ugur
Kaymaz by the police in Kiziltepe in Mardin. Elci is now on trial
himself for "attempting to influence the judiciary", but he has
objected against two of the judges’ panels, the first because it
was the same panel of the murder trial, and the second because panel
president Nuran Berk was again part of the murder trial panel. On 30
October, following the objection of Elci’s lawyers, Nuran Berk was
also taken off the case. The file has been sent to the Kutahya Heavy
Penal Court in order for a new panel president to be selected. The
court will then create a new panel. Elci is on trial for saying,
"We want a neutral trial. We want justice to be done here." His next
hearing is on 31 January 2008.
Faruk Cakir, editor-in-chief at the Yeni Asya newspaper, is to be
tried for two articles entitled "Council of State to Expand Case" and
"Investigation of Council of State is Being Expanded". He is accused of
violating the secrecy of an investigation. Bagcilar Public Prosecutor
Ali Cakir has opened a trial against Cakir. The articles say that the
Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court is investigating possible links between
the attack on the 2nd Chamber of the Council of State in Ankara in
May 2006, in which a lawyer attacked the judges, killing one, and
the finding of a weapons arsenal in a home in Umraniye, Istanbul. The
indictment of 25 July says that Cakir carries responsibility for the
articles, as he has not revealed the names of the authors, and demands
up to 4.5 years imprisonment for breaching Article 11 of the Press Law
and Article 285/1-3 of the Penal Code concerned with the violation
of secrecy. It is further said in the indictment that the articles,
published on 23 June 2007, violate the secrecy of the investigation
by quoting from statements from the investigation run by the Istanbul
On 24 October, the Bakirkoy 2nd Penal Court opened a trial against
the weekly Nokta magazine for an interview with security expert
and journalist Lale Sariibrahimoglu. The interview, entitled "The
military should not interfere in domestic security", has led to a
charge of "denigrating the state’s armed forces." Reporter Ahmet Sik,
who conducted the interview on 8 February, and Sariibrahimoglu are
both on trial under Article 301, facing up to two years imprisonment.
At the first hearing, at which Sik was represented by his lawyer Fikret
Ýlkiz, Sariibrahimoglu stated that some parts of the interview were in
the style of a chat, and that the whole text needed to be considered
as constructive criticism. The case will continue on 3 April 2008. The
trial was instigated by the Gendarmerie General Command.
On 18 October, the Istanbul 2nd Penal Court sentenced Kemal Bozkurt,
the editor of the "The Only Way is Revolution Movement" magazine for
"praising something counting as a crime." In an article entitled
"Certainly one day", Bozkurt had spoken about the Kizildere event,
which had taken place in order to prevent the execution of student
revolutionary leaders Deniz Gezmis and his friends, as "legendary
history." Citing Article 218, Bozkurt was handed a one and a half month
prison sentence, then converted into a 900 YTL fine. Erdal Dogan,
Bozkurt’s lawyer, had cited ECHR case law, but had not been able to
convince the court.
On 14 October, it emerged that the Chief Public Prosecution of the
Supreme Court of Appelas has decreed the acquittal of Rahmi Yildirim,
writer on the (without censorship) website. Yildirm
had written an article entitled "The job for the one in the know, the
sword for the one girding it", in which he had written, "the pashas
(i.e. the generals) are the protectors, the pawns, the actors, the
bit players of the capitalist order." The General Staff instigated
a trial under Article 301, arguing that the army was denigrated. The
Ankara 12th Penal Court, where Yildirim was first tried, had argued
that the expressions used were upsetting and hurtful, but that they
needed to be evaluted within the freedom to express oneself. Should
the Supreme Court’s ratification of the acquittal be overturned,
Yildirm would face another trial.
On 11 October, the Sisli 2nd Penal Court sentenced Agos editor-in-chief
Arat Dink, son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, and licence holder
Serkis Seropyan to one year imprisonment each under Article 301. The
sentences were deferred. Lawyer Fethiye Cetin announced that they
would appeal. The court case had been opened when recep Akkus, a
member of the rightist-nationalist Great Lawyers’ Union had filed
a complaint at the Sisli prosecution when Hrant Dink had given an
interview to the Reuters News Agency. In the interview, Hrant Dink
spoke of the events of 1915 as a "genocide" and had said, "We see
that a people who lived on this soil for 4,000 years disappeared with
what happened." The Agos newspaper reported the fact that a trial had
been opened and wrote about the interview in an article entitled "A
vote against 301." The Sisli Chief Public Prosecution opened a trial
against Hrant Dink, Arat Dink and Seropyan, with charges against
the former being dropped after his murder on 19 January 2007. In
its twenty-page decree the court referred to the events of 1915,
saying, "If what the defendants had accused the Turks of doing was
a historical truth, then their actions would have been legal"; thus,
the court found it necessary to study history books itself and create
its own opinion of what happened in the past.
After saying, "The death of soldiers, and the death of Kurdish martyrs
pains us", Tunceli’s Province Chair of the Labour Party (EMEP), Huseyin
Tunc, was sentenced to three months imprisonment, converted into a
1,500 YTL fine. Tunc had uttered the words in a speech in Tunceli on
2 September 2006, saying: "There are battles in Sirnak and Silopi,
and soldiers have died there. Believe me, our hearts are aching, when
we think of their families. In the same way our hearts are aching,
breaking apart because Kurds are going to be martyrs." The Tunceli
Penal Court had sentenced him for "praising a crime and criminals"
(Article 215/1 of the Turkish Penal Code).
Tunc’s lawyer Baris Yildirim said that because an appeal against
the fine was not possible and because as a "person in a political
position" Tunc should have more rather than less freedom of expression,
they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on 17
October. Yildirim said that they would base their appeal on Article
10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as Article 2
of Additional Protocol 7, which deals with the right to a two-tiered
judiciary process. Because of the same speech, Tunc was also tried,
but acquitted, under Article 301. He had further said in the speech:
"Those who speak of peace are hit on the head with truncheons, are
sentenced to imprisonment; …those in the country who speak of peace
are lynched…we strongly condemn this hypocrisy…" "If the state
of the Turkish Republic and its government and its opposition do not
accept Kurds, then they are liars, they are hypocrites, they are the
enemy of the people, they are traitors."
The prosecution has appealed against the acquittal of Ferhat Bayindir
on 4 October, the head of the Human Rights Association (IHD) branch
in Batman, in the south-east of Turkey. Lawyer Bayindir had taken
on the case of Hasin Is, who had been killed in front of the Batman
Municipality building two years ago. Bayindir himself was put on trial
after a press statement he made on 16 June 2005. He was accused of
"insulting the police force". While the Batman Heavy Penal court
acquitted Bayindir, prosecutor Zeki Yalcin took the case to the
Supreme Court of Appeals. Speaking at a hearing, Bayindir had said:
"The press statement needs to be evaluated in terms of the freedom
of expression and the right for defense. There was no criminal
intention. I was defending my client’s rights and the law."
On 3 October, the case of Mehmet Sevket Eygi and Selami Caliskan,
journalist and editor of the Milli Newspaper respectively, continued.
The Istanbul 14th Penal Court decreed that there was no element of
crime and acquitted the two journalists. The two journalists had
previously been sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment
for "inciting the public to hatred and hostility", but the 8th Chamber
of the Supreme Court of Appeals had overturned the ruling.
On 2 October, writer and film director Umur Hozatli appealed against
a sentence. In an article entitled "Irritating Men", which he wrote
for the "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper, Hozatli criticised the police
and the judiciary. The article was published on 11 November 2006. The
prosecutor quoted the following sentences from the article and argued
that they needed to be punished: "The Turish police force is famous
for not working with a police mentality, but for trying to spread
fear for their personal benefits, regardless of whether people are
innocent or guilty." "The men are bored, so they collaborate with
likeminded prosecutors and judges in identifying people and groups
whose ideologies they disagree with, people they find irritating,
and arrest them, putting them away as terrorists, separatists and
destructive people. The Turkish police, together with prosecutors
and judges are working as an organisation which creates terrorists."
Hozatli had argued in his article that a survey of public opinion
or informal conversations would reveal that most people complained
about the police and did not trust them. He had added that after the
raids on dissident media organisations, such as the Atilim newspaper
and the Ozgur Radio, employees of these organisations were held on
trumped up charges.
On 25 September, 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.
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?" Suat Temocin, the caricaturist’s
lawyer, has announced an appeal against the sentence.
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 There was another hearing on 26 October, and the court
case will continue on 20 February 2008. 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.
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.
On 13 September, the 8th Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals decreed
that "a new definition of minority will endanger the unitary state
and the inseparability of the nation". The Chamber thus overturned
the acquittal of academics Prof Dr Ibrahim Kaboglu and Prof Dr Baskin
Oran. They have 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.
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".
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.
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."
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 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.
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.
On 27 July, the court case against the Vakit newspaper continued. An
article entitled "The country where those who could [normally] not even
become Corporal become Generals", published with the pseudonym Asim
Yenihaber on 25 Agust 2003, is said to have accused retired General
Aytac Yalman and 311 generals. The court is investigating whether
the article was sent to the newspaper by Mehmet Dogan, but has had
problems accessing information about his IP address. The 4th Chamber
of the Supreme Court of Appeals had overruled the compensation demand
of 1 million YTL (which would be 1 billion YTL with interest) saying
that first it had to be ascertained whether Dogan had sent the article.
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.
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 pending trial. A prison sentence from six months to two
years is being demanded.
On 12 July, 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 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’s advisor Cuneyd Zapsu 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 Zapsu’s demand for 10,000 YTL compensation from the
"Milliyet" newspaper and editor Dogan Akin was 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.
On 21 June, the Istanbul 9th Heavy Penal Court acquitted Huseyin Aykol,
editor-in-chief of the Ulked Ozgur Gundem newspaper of "membership in
an illegal organisation", ruling that Aykol went to Kandil Mountain to
do interviews with PKK/Kongra-Gel leaders. Based on the statements of
militant-turned-informant Hakan Bazu, the journalist had been charged,
and 10 years imprisonment had been demanded, citing Articles 314/2
and 53 of Law No 5237 of the Turkish Penal Code and Article 5 of the
Anti-Terrorism Law No. 3713. The journalist was previously tried for
the interviews under the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Former Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim had sued Birgun
newspaper and writer Saruhan Oluc for "attacking personal rights" and
had demanded 50,000 YTL compensation. The compensation was refused
on 20 June by a civil court in Ankara. This was the third court to
hear the case. The first had awarded 10,000 YTL in compensation,
but a court of appeals had overturned the ruling. The final court
decided to follow the ruling of the second court. On 13 August 2004,
Birgun newspaper had published an article by Oluc entitled "Commercial
Politics and Impudence".
Because of an interview he gave in the Tempo magazine, KURD-DER
spokesperson Ibrahim Guclu is on trial together with reporter Enis
Mazhar Tayman and responsible director Neval Barlas for "degrading
Turkishness and the Republic" and "inciting the public to disobeying
laws". The case against Barlas was dropped on 8 June as the author
of the article was clear. The Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court has sent the
file to the Bakirkoy Penal Court and it is not clear when the next
hearing will be.
On 7 January, the Cerkezkoy Penal Court sentenced human rights activist
Eren Keskin to one year imprisonment for saying on 20 February 2005:
"The state has such a brutal attitude that it can kill a 12-year-old
child, the Turkish Republic is a murderer with bloody hands. They have
to be accountable to us and they need to apologise to us. Turkey’s
history is a dirty history." Citing Article 159 of the former penal
code, the court decreed that she had "denigrated the Republic." The
prison sentence was converted into a fine of 4,380 YTL. If the
punishment is confirmed, four more cases against Keskin which were
suspended after an amnesty law may be reopened.
On 7 June, three representatives of the Human Rights Association
(IHD) in Adana (southern Turkey) were sentenced to 2 years 8 months
imprisonment for protesting against the "Return to Life" military
operations conducted in prisons in 2000, in which many prisoners
died, and for demanding the prosecution of those responsible. The
sentences of Ethem Acikalin, Mustafa Bagcicek and Huseyin Beyaz were
not deferred, "based on a consideration of the country’s current
situation". Another case against Acikalin began on 7 June in Adana.
He had taken part in protests to find those responsible for the murder
of 16-year-old Feyzi Abik and 11 people murdered in Diyarbakir. He
is being accused of "degrading the state’s police force".
At the beginning of June, the Iskender Chief Public Prosecution
rejected a demand by mayor Mete Aslan for compensation from local
newspaper owners Ersen Korkmaz and Erdal Yilmaz and journalist
Dogan Suslu, arguing that the news was true, current and of public
interest. The articles in question covered an attack on Suslu and two
knife attacks on Korkmaz, arguing that all the attacks had happened
during Aslan’s time in office and that the perpetrators had not
After an article in Guney Ege, a local newspaper in Mugla (Aegean part
of Turkey), in which paper and carton company MOPAK was accused of
polluting the environment and ignoring employee’s rights, newspaper
owner Hasan Karacelik, editor Nuri Timbil and columnist Yuksel Sari
were tried for insulting, and a demand of 300,000 YTL compensation
was made. The demand for compensation was rejected by the Ortaca
Civil Court of First Instance on 31 May.
On 31 May, the prosecution of Erguder Oner, owner and responsible
director of Dersim’de Iklim newspaper and editor Emrah Oner in Tunceli
(eastern Turkey) started. After they published an article entitled
"Ocalan Statement in Dersim" and used the term "leader of the Kurdish
people", they are being accused of "praising crime and criminals" under
Article 215. A sentence of two years imprisonment is being demanded.
The demand of Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan and daughter Zeynep
Basutcu Unakitan for 40,000 YTL compensation from the Sabah newspaper
was rejected by a civil court in Ankara on 6 June. On 23 February
2006 the newspaper had published articles relating to the daughter’s
visit to the TELSIM company, parts of which had been taken over by
the Saving Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF).
After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called PKK leader
Abdullah Ocalan "esteemed" in a speech in Australia on 14 January 2000,
232 people had filed complaints against him for "praising crimes and
criminals" and "inciting people to hatred and hostility".
He was aquitted because the prosecution found no other evidence of
praise or incitement in his speech.
On 24 May, the Malatya 3rd Heavy Penal Court acquitted human rights
activists and journalists. The activists had formed a delegation in
order to achieve the release of Private Coskun Kirandi, who had been
taken hostage by the PKK two years ago. The court decreed that the
initiative was based on "humane reasons." The delegation had been made
up of singer Ferhat Tunc, IHD regional representativ Mihdi Perincek,
Diyarbakir representative Selahattin Demirtas, Tunceli province
councillor Ozgur Soylemez, and journalist Umur Hozatli.
Journalists covering the event had been accused of "spreading
propaganda of the organisation", with five years imprisonment
looming. DHA reporter Ferit Demir, AA reporter Haydar Toprakci,
DIHA reporters Abdulkadir Ozbeka nd Rustu Demirkaya were all acquitted.
Hasan Cakkalkurt, responsible director of Milliyet newspaper, and
owner Aydin Dogan and politician Mehmet Hatip Dicle were acquitted
of spreading terrorist propaganda at a heavy penal court in Istanbul
on 23 May. They had covered reactions on Kurdish websites to a speech
by Dicle, co-founder of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP).
The court found the coverage of public interest and and argued that
there was no criminal intent.
On 21 May, the rejection of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s
demand for 25,000 YTL compensation from the weekly caricature magazine
Leman was announced. On the 6 July 2006 issue, Leman had written "Reco
[Recep] the Kongo tick is making Turkey’s mother cry", referring to
the high petrol prices and high taxes in Turkey. The court in Ankara
decided that as a politician, Erdogan had to accept criticism.
Former prosecutor Mustafa Turhan, who was expelled from his profession
by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, found out in May that
a trial under Article 301 has been opened against him. Turhan had said,
"I have never trusted justice", and stands accused of denigrating the
judiciary organs," facing from six months to two years imprisonment.
On 18 May, representatives of the Istanbul "Anadolunun Sesi" radio
station announced that the decision of RTUK (High Commission for Radio
and Television) to withdraw the broadcasting licence of the station had
been supported by an administrative court in Ankara. The court argued
that the decision wsa legal and that there would be no compensation
for financial losses during closure. On 30 January, RTUK had closed
the station indefininitely, based on temporary article 6 of Law 3984
on Radio and Television Foundation and Broadcasts. The station had
also been closed for 30 days on 17 October 2006 for playing a song
by Ahmet Kaya and for covering the discussion of the Kurdish issue
in a newspaper, for criticising the "Return to life" operations of
December 2000 and the then Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Turk.
On 15 May, Muammer Karabulut, president of the Father Christmas
Foundation was aquitted in his 301 trial. He had said that the
Orthodox Greek Patriarchate was managing the court and and the Regional
Directorate of Foundations.
Five human rights activists in Batman (south-east Turkey) are on
trial for preparing a report into the killing of 11-year old Mizgin
Ozbek by law-enforcement guns on 5 September 2006. Saadet Becerikli
of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Mehmet Sat and Ahmet Sevim
of MAZLUMDER, Sedat Ozevin, president of the Batman Bar Association,
and lawyer Bengi Yildiz are being tried under Articles 288 and 301/2
("attempting to influence the judiciary process" and "degrading the
armed forces"). The case has postponed in order to seek permission
from the Ministry of Justice to try the lawyers in the case.
District governor Mahmut Agbal of Karliova district (province of
Bingol, south-eastern Turkey) is suing a weekly local newspaper,
Bingol Ab-I Hayat, for a series of articles entitled "Villagers Claim
Corruption", published between 24 and 30 April 2007. Editor-in-chief
Faysal Sonakalan and Karliova representative Mustak Eroglu have been
accused of "spreading slander about a person and an institution". The
articles had deal with accusations of corruption in road making
Namik Duran, journalist for the Milliyet newspaper was acquitted of
spreading PKK propaganda on 10 May by an Istanbul heavy penal court.
The court decided that an interview with Osman Ocalan, a former
leading figure in the PKK, and his newborn child, entitled "Osman
is rocking a cradle" and "The PKK should retreat" did not go beyond
informing the public and that there was no evidence of a crime.
On 3 May, Nezahat Alkan, journalist for Birgun newspaper, was
acquitted of offering a public prosecutor as a target for a terrorist
organisation. In an article "Insistence on Bomb in Spice Market",
published on 29 December 2005, she had mentioned the name of the
prosecutor when covering the deliberations in the case. She had been
tried under Article 6/1 of the Law on Terrorism.
Erol Ozkoray, journalist for the Idea-Politka magazine has been
acquitted after the prosecution realized that he had been tried in
the same case before. Ozkoray had written two articles, entitled
"What use is the army?" and "The new barbarians are the Taliban with
epaulets", published in 2001.
On 18 April, the Ankara 14th Civil Court of First Instance rejected
Prime Minister Erdogan’s demand for 25,000 YTL compensation from the
Leman caricature magazine. Zafer Aknar, the editor of the magazine
said: "We find the decision positive. This is the fourth time the Prime
Minister has sued." The complaint was filed because of a caricature
which depicted Erdogan as a Congo tick.
Mahmut Alinak, Kars province chair of the pro-Kurdish DTP has been
sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for saying that "the Semdinli
contraguerrillas were bombed by the republic’s gunmen". He was tried
for "degrading the armed forces and the Turkish parliament". He is
appealing against his sentence.
A demand by Prime Minister Erdogan for 10,000 YTL compensation to
be paid by Tuncay Ozkan, who had prepared a political programme for
Kanal Turk channel, was refused by an Ankara civil court on 10 April.
On 6 April, Ibrahim Yildiz, editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet
newspaper, was sentenced to 23 months 10 days imprisonment, later
converted into a 14,000 YTL fine. The newspaper had reported the
comments of Haluk Koc of the opposition CHP when Erdogan had refused
to declare his financial assets. The Radikal newspaper, who had also
reported the comments, was acquitted.
On 29 March it was reported that Transportation Minister Binali
Yildirim has filed a 20,000 YTL compensation claim against Ilhan
Selcuk, journalist for the Cumhuriyet newspaper. Selcuk had written a
column entitled "This has got out of hand…", in which he had said:
"In this column we can now read the text of 21 January 2003…the
three most important ministries of the AKP goverment are in the hands
of three people suspected of corruption: the Energy Ministry is in
the hands of suspect Hilmi Guler, the Transportation Ministry in the
hands of suspect Binali Yildirim, the Finance Ministry in the hands
of suspect Kemal Unakitan. Three strategic ministries in the palms
of the hands of corruption suspects…"
At a hearing of 27 March, the Uskudar 5th Civil Court of First
Instance lifted its injunction on the article series entitled
"Fethullah Gulen’s 40-year comrade Nurettin Veren Talks", written
by Cumhuriyet journalist Hikmet Cetinkaya. After a two-year trial,
the court has rejected religious leader Fethullah Gulen’s claim that
his personal rights were being violated.
The Diyarbakir branch of the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD)
applied to the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecution in order to
stop a series of articles entitled "Who are we?", published in the
Milliyet newspaper from 19 March for five days. The ADD claimed
that the series incited the public to hatred and hostility, citing
Article 216/1, and called for the prosecution of Tarhan Erdem, the
writer responsible for the series, and editors Tahir Ozyurtseven
and Cem Dizdar. The Milliyet series was based on public surveys and
was presented under the headlines "A colourful first," "Half of the
poorest live in the Southeast," "4.5 million say they are Alevi,"
"55 million people are ethnically Turkish," "and "Most say ‘I am
first of all a citizen of Turkey.’"
On 23 March, it was reported that the 4th Chamber of the Supreme Court
of Appeals had overturned the sentencing of the Milliyet newspaper by
a regional court. On 20 September 2004, the newspaper had published
an article entitled "Reactionaries have stopped pursuit", in which the
inauguration of Prime Ministerial Secretary of State Omer Dincer as the
president of the Prime Ministerial Monitoring and Coordination Board
was discussed. Dincer had opened a trial demanding compensation for
"attacking personal rights in the press." The Supreme Court of Appeals
ruled against the compensation award. Should this decision be appealed
against, the case will go to the Supreme Court’s General Board.
On 22 March, the Sisli 2nd Penal Court dropped the charges of
"denigrating Turkishness" and "attempting to influence the judiciary"
in three cases against Agos editor-in-chief Hrant Dink, who was
murdered on 19 January 2007.
On 6 March, the Istanbul Duty 1st Criminal Court of First Instance
banned access to the international video-sharing website Youtube.
After Turkish and Greek Internet users had continued a long-standing
"e-fight" on 5 January, and Greek users had sent a video alleged to
contain "an insult to Ataturk". On 8 March some Internet users said
in the Sisli court that censorship was not the way to prevent such
actions. The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the ban as
"radical and disproportional."
On 7 March, the Diyarbakir 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance
sentenced DTP leader Ahmet Turk to 6 months imprisonment for saying in
a speech in Diyarbakir: "As we are making intense efforts to stop guns
from speaking, the worsening of isolation conditions for the esteemed
Ocalan obviously increase social worries." Turk was sentenced under
Article 215/1 for "praising a criminal and a crime."
In addition, DTP politicians Mehmet Sirin Tekik, Cemalettin Padir and
Dicle Manap were taken into custody after organizing a press meeting
in support of DTP Diyarbakir Province Chair Hilmi Aydogdu, who was
arrested after saying: "Whatever is done in Kerkuk, we consider it
to have been done to Diyarbakir." A further arrest warrant was issued
for DTP Batman Province Chair Ayhan Karabulut.
After speaking up in a programme on Kanal D, presented by Abbas Guclu,
and saying to ANAP party leader Erkan Mumcu, "I am Kurdish, the PKK
is not the cause, but an effect," university student Mehmet Emin
Demir was sentenced to a 20-month prison sentence on 16 February. The
Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court cited Article 220/8 of the Criminal
Code and found Demir guilty of "spreading propaganda for an illegal
organization or its aims."
On 15 February, Radikal newspaper’s reporter Ismail Saymaz was
acquitted by the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court. He had been accused of
violating the secrecy of an investigation into the torture of children
by publishing a doctor’s report, as well as attempting to influence
the judiciary. The court ruled that Saymaz, who had published an
article entitled "Claim of torture of an 11-year-old child" on 23
February 2006, had not violated Article 19 of the Press Law related
to influencing the judiciary.
On 14 February, the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court decreed lack of
jurisdiction in the case of Songul Ozkan, the owner of Evrensel
Publications, which had published Ahmet Kahraman’s "Kurdish Revolts."
However, the Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that the case of
Ozkan, who has been charged with "incitement to hatred and hostility"
under Article 312, should be heard by the Beyoglu court. Ozcan’s
next hearing is on 20 March 2008. The book was first published in
October 2003 and describes the Kurdish struggle throughout history,
using eye witnesses and relatives.
On 14 February, the Ankara 3rd Penal Court sentenced 13 party leaders
of the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAKPAR) to between 6 months and one
year imprisonment for speaking Kurdish at their First Ordinary Congress
and for inviting state representatives with Kurdish invitations. The
court argued that the party had violated the Law on Political Parties
and decided to appeal to the prosecution of the Supreme Court of
Appeals in order to start a trial to close the party.
On 13 February, the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court acquitted Faruk Cakir,
the responsible editor of the Yeni Asya newspaper of "humiliating the
state’s military in the press,", but punished him for "attempting
to influence the judiciary." Under Article 288 of the Penal Code
Cakir was first sentenced to six months imprisonment, later converted
into a 3,600 YTL fine. In an article entitled "The game backfired",
the attack on the State Council in Ankara was discussed, and it was
argued that attacker Alparslan Arslan had connections to a nationalist
organization called "Red Apple."
On 1 February, the Kadikoy 2nd Penal Court acquitted writer Perihan
Magden of "insulting in the press" for her articles on the "Kurtlar
Vadisi" (Wolves’ Valley) TV series and the film "Wolves’ Valley in
Iraq." Magden’s lawyer Ergin Cinmen said at the hearing that the series
and the film were showing mafia relations and influencing society,
arguing that especially children, but also others have turned to
crime because of the series.
On 27 January, the Tunceli Penal Court sentenced Eren Keskin, former
president of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD),
to six months imprisonment for "denigrating the state, the military
and the police." The sentence was converted into a 900 YTL fine and
deferred. Keskin appealed against the sentence on 20 February. At a
conference organized by an education trade union in Tunceli on 24
November 2002, entitled "Women in Social Life," Keskin had said,
"Either legal or political, torture is a state policy in Turkey."
On 24 January, the Sisli 2nd Penal Court acquitted Ahmet Sami Belek
and Sahin Bayar, the licence holder and responsible editor of the
Gunluk Evrensel newspaper respectively, at their first hearing. They
had been on trial for "denigrating the state’s army in print" with an
article entitled "The JITEM [a secret counter-terrorism force] were
called to Diyarbakir". The court decreed that the news was reported
as a claim acceptable within the framework of the freedom of press.
After a bomb killed seven people in Diyarbakir’s Baglar neighbourhood,
the article claimed that not much before that former JITEM members
had been called to Diyarbakir.
On 23 January, the 9th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals
rejected the insistent demands of the General Staff and the Ministry
of Justice to try three journalists and an MP, arguing that the
texts had been intended as news to inform the public. The journalists
concerned were Zihni Erdem, of the Radikal newspaper, who had written
"13 questions in Semdinli," Derya Sazak and editor Hasan Cakkalkurt
of the Milliyet newspaper for an article entitled "If there is an
informant involved, then the state is too". The case against CHP MP
Esat Canan was also dropped.
On 16 January, Sabah journalist Ergun Babahan was acquitted of
insulting Baskent University Rector Prof. Dr. Mehmet Haberal in an
article entitled "Strange Relations." The Ankara 2nd Penal Court
decreed that the article did not contain any insult and was intended
On 12 January it was reported that a court case against Erol Ozkoray,
editor of the three-monthly Idea Politka magazine, and RSF General
Secretary Robert Menard, who had given an interview, ended in
acquittal. Ozkoray found out that he was acquitted nearly a year ago.
The magazine had published an interview in the 28 December 2001 issue
of the magazine. The court case had been opened because Menard said
that the "Turkish Regime is schizophrenic." A trial under Article 159
of the old penal code, for "insulting the military and the republic"
had been opened against both Ozkoray and Menard, with up to six years
imprisonment demanded for both.
Corrections and Legal Redress On 17 December, the Yuksekova Civil
Court of First Instance sentenced Muslim Bartin d to 5 months 25 days
imprisonment and 2 years probation for the attack on Necip Capraz, the
licence holder of the Hakkari Yuksekova News newspaper, and a reporter
for the Anatolia Agency (AA). Two years ago, Capraz was attacked and
seriously injured by people wearing masks. Both the journalist and
Bartin have appealed against the decision, the former arguing that the
punishment is too light, the latter protesting his innocence. Muslim
Batin had been sentenced to one year and two months imprisonment
for being one of Capraz’s attackers on 22 September 2005. However,
the court decided to reduce the sentence to five months 25 days;
Nihat Bartin was acquitted of being part of the assault. The Turkish
Journalists’ Society had condemned the attack.
On 6 December, the Isparta 2nd Penal Court sentence Isparta mayor Hasan
Balaman and his bodyguard Fatih Sarioglu to one year and nine months
imprisonment each for attacking Zaman reporter Mustaf Altintas at the
mayor’s office. The punishments for the physical attack were deferred,
but Balaman was also sentenced to a fine of 7,500 YTL for insulting
Altintas. Because the newspaper’s Isparta representative dropped his
complaint, the case concerning him was dropped. Isparta municipality’s
former legal matters administrator Aykut Okur was acquitted due to
lack of evidence against him. After the attack on 9 February 2006,
Balaman and Sarioglu had been detained for some time.
Yol TV, broadcasting via Turk Sat, showed the Zaza programme "Hard u
Asmen" ("The wound of 70 years"), directed by writer and story teller
Hasan Dursun, for the first time on 1 December. The programme, which
is the first ever to be permitted by the Radio and Television Supreme
Council (RTUK), will be broadcast once a month for a while. The first
programme dealt with the unknown location of the graves of Seyit Riza
and his frineds, who were executed in Elazig in 1937.
After Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran, former member of the Human Rigths Advisory
Board which prepared the "Minority Report", received insulting and
threatening emails, he went to court. Four suspects from Istanbul,
Bodrum and Ankara were identified from their IP addresses. Kamil
Saglik, Dursun Kaya, Figen Arslan and Kezban Kilic rejected the
charges at the first hearing on 16 May at the Ankara 9th Criminal
Court of First Instance. Oran rejected reconciliation, saying,
"I don’t make peace with people who threaten me with death."
The case will continue on 12 February 2008. In another case, someone
calling themselves the "Samsun representative of the Fatherland Front"
sent Oran a threatening letter from an Internet cafe. The Internet
cafe owner appeared in court on 24 December. The next hearing is on
25 March 2008.
On 10 October, the Sisli 9th Penal Court sentenced a Ridvan Dogan
to two years imprisonment. Dogan had sent the Agos newspaper a
threatening email after the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Hrant Dink
was murdered. Because the 19-year-old high school student had been in
detention, had no prior convictions and expressed his regret, the court
deferred his sentence. He is on probation for two years. Dogan had said
that he had sent an email that came to him to Agos without reading it.
After he was attacked by riot police on the 1 May protests at Taksim
Square, Cumhuriyet news reporter Alper Turgut has not been able to
ensure the prosecution of those responsible. The Supreme Court of
Appeals decided not to pursue his complaint against Istanbul Governor
Muammer Guler, Istanbul Chief of Police Celalettin Cerrah and the
Chief of the Riot Police. Citing Articles 86/1, 3-c and 117/1 of the
Penal Code, Turgut’s lawyer Tora Pekin had appealed to the Supreme
Court of Appeals, claiming that there was a case of "intentionally
injuring a person" and "violating the freedom to work."
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.
After insulting Sabah newspaper reporter Aliye Cetinkaya at a Felicity
Party (SP) rally, Halil Yilmaz was sentenced to 6 days imprisonment,
convertd to a 300 YTL fine. Cetinkaya had additionally been verbally
abused and attacked with stones by a group at the rally in February
2006 because she had not covered her hair and was wearing jeans. She
has filed a complaint against the attackers.
A Law on Preventing Crimes Committed on the Internet was passed by
parliament on 4 May. It was ratified by president Sezer on 22 May.
Acording to the law, the Telecommunications Board will prevent crimes
against Ataturk, following law No. 5816. 20 NGOs of the computer
sector reacted strongly to the new law, saying that "The Internet
needs to be fast, not censored!".
On 2 May, the Istanbul 9th Heavy Penal Court evaluated the objections
of prosecutors Selim Berna Altay and Fikret Secen and sent the file
concerning Hrant Dink’s murder back to the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal
Court, where it had originally been. The indictment in the case claims
that the murder, for which 12 detained and 6 undetained suspects are
being tried, represents a crime of terrorism.
After Chief of General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit called the
"Gundem" newspaper the "publishing organ of the PKK" in a press
briefing on 12 April, employers of the newspaper have sued Buyukanit.
He had said, "True, the Turkish Armed Forces uses an accreditation
system. That is the draft of the memorandum. I say it sincerely. Why
is there accreditation? We also don’t want it. But do you want a
PKK newspaper to be broadcast in Turkey? Gundem…How would you like
their journalists to sit in one of these rows?"
On 30 March the Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court heard suspects in the
attacks on the State Council and on the Cumhuriyet newspaper. The
lawyer of suspect Aykut Metin, who is on trial for "knowingly and
willingly aiding and abetting an illegal organization," said that his
client was not a person who would be motivated to act because of the
headscarf. The lawyer of suspect Erhan Timuroglu described his client
as "ignorant, a person who drinks alcohol" and denied that there
was a religious motive to the act. Because murder suspect Alparslan
Arslan’s lawyer was excused, Arslan’s last defense was not listened to.
The Platform against the Crime of Thought had organized acts of
civil disobedience in support of Agos editor-in-chief Hrant Dink,
who had been on trial under Article 301 before his murder. Some of
the estimated 500 people involved gave statements on 19 February as
part of an investigation which the prosecution had initiated. The
protesters had signed a text saying, "I am also Hrant Dink, I agree
with his words, which have been counted as a crime, and I also want
to be tried."
In February, the Turkish Journalists’ Society and the Press Council
sent their suggestions for amendments to the controversial Article 301
to Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek and government representatives,
suggesting that the concept of Turkishness be changed, punishments
reduced and prosecution be made dependent on permission. CHP leader
Deniz Baykal has opposed changes to Article 301.
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), of which
bianet is also a member, called on Turkey on 10 February to abolish
Article 301 completely; it also asked Turkey to abolish all articles
which contravened the European Convention on Human Rights and the
United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Censorship and Reactions to Monopolisation At the ceremony of the Sedat
Simavi Prizes on 12 December, Orhan Erinc, president of the Turkish
Journalists’ Society said that there had been no improvement in the
obstruction of the freedom of expression and the right to inform the
public since the year before.
He pointed out that the government had not kept its promise to change
The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) announced that
it had chosen murdered Agos editor-in-chief Hrant Dink as its World
Press Freedom Hero. Speaking at the awards ceremony, IPÝ director
Johann P. Fritz said that the award represented a praise of Dink’s
courage and an acknowledgement of his contribution to the freedom of
expression and press freedom in Turkey.
Under the leadership of Helene Flautre, who had spoken to NGOs,
journalists and members of the government in Turkey, the European
Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee expressed its increasing worry
about Article 301 and torture cases on 5 December.
Seyfi Dursunoglu, a drag artist, is not allowed to appear in the
"Will you dance with me" programme on Fox TV in his drag character
"Fractious Virgin" anymore. Dursunoglu said that he had been told
by Star TV director Fatih Edipoglu one and a half years earlier that
the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) did not want him to
appear in drag anymore.
Following the arrest of the eight soldiers taken hostage by the PKK in
Daglica (Hakkari) in October and later released, the Van Gendarmerie
Public Order Corps Command Military Court decreed a broadcasting and
publishing ban on the investigation of the soldiers.
The decision was announced on RTUK’s website on 13 November. The
ban was decided on unanimously in order to "avoid a distortion
of the aim of the investigation and misinformation of the public,
to avoid giving rise to misunderstandings and in order to safeguard
the authority and objectivity of the judiciary." The decision cited
Articles 13 and 28 of the constitution as well as Article 3 of Press
Law No. 5187 and includes "activities to obtain, spread, criticise and
interpret on information concerning the investigation".The ban is to
stay in place until the investigation is completed. Former military
judge and prosecutor Umit Kardas criticised the ban as unnecessary,
and the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD) and the Turkish
Journalists’ Society (TGC) condemned it as a "constraint."
After Cumhuriyet journalist Erdogan Aydin was dismissed for joining
a programme on the pro-Kurdish Roj TV channel, the "We want a future
Istanbul Initiative" staged a protest in front of the newspaper
office. Around 30 people gathered on 11 November.
The system of accreditation was debated again after Chief of General
Staff General Yasar Buyukanit only invited journalists from 13
accredited newspapers to a press briefing, and after President Abdullah
Gul was only acompanied by 13 newspapers on his trip to Azerbaijan in
November. TGC General Secretary Celal Toprak argued that the system
represented a limitation to the right of the public to be informed and
that he opposed all kinds of accreditation. CGD President Ahmet Abakay
said that considering diversity of the invited media would be enough.
The Istanbul 9th Heavy Penal Court decreed that the weekly Yuruyus
(March) should be stopped from publishing for a month. In the 16
December 2007 issue, the expressions "Revolutionaries die, but
revolutions continue" and "They did not surrender" were said to
reresent "propaganda of an illegal organisation" according to Article
7/2 of Law No 3713. The court further said that the cover of the
magazine showed "a member of an illegal organisation who had died when
fighting against security forces not long ago." Citing Article 25/2 of
the Press Law, the court resorted to closing the magazine for a month.
In November, the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court stopped the YedinciGun
newspaper from publishing for fifteen days. The newspaper had begun
publishing on 5 November, but its news items and articles were said
to be "spreading PKK propaganda." Editor Huseyin Aykol called on all
journalistic institutions to protest against the censorship.
On 9 November, the Gaziantep 1st Criminal Court of Peace ordered the
confiscation of the 32nd issue of the local "Coban Atesi" (Shepherd’s
Fire) newspaper after journalist Berkant Coskun wrote an article
entitled "Mother, Don’t Send Me to the Army". The newspaper stands
accused of "damaging the public image of military service".Judge
Saban Kaplan decreed the confiscation of the issue "because the
article contained passages which committed the crime of damaging the
public image of military service". He cited Article 25/2 of Press
Law No. 5187. Article 25/2 is concerned with "Confiscation and a
ban on distribution and sales". Since the article also calls for an
investigation, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Yasin Yetisgen was
called to the police station to give a statement. The article in
question referred to the Geneva and LaHague Conventions and called
operations of the Turkish Armed Forces in the Oremar (Daglica) region
of Hakkari a "massacre"; it also referred to the social effects of
these operations on children and Kurds. One passage of the text reads:
"I am afraid, mother, take me inside, I am afraid…The army wants [me]
because they say there will be a war, mother they tell me ‘lie down’
and ‘get up’. Mother, they give me a gun and tell me ‘kill’…Switch
off your television, mother, they are deceiving you as well…This
song goes around in my head when I watch the heroic (!) soldiers’
operations on television…" Article 318 of the new Turkish Penal
Code, which is concerned with "damage to the public image of military
service", has been used against pacifists, journalists and rights
activists. Journalist Perihan Magden of the "Aktuel" magazine was
acquitted under the article, but conscientious objector Halil Savda,
writer Serpil Koksal, pacifists Murat Dunsen and Ibrahim Kizartici,
"Birgun" reporter Gokhan Gencay and "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" reporter
Birgul Ozbaris are still on trial under the article.
On 6 November, the EU Commission published the Turkey Progress Report,
emphasising that there had been a slow-down in reforms. Ollie Rehn,
EU Commissioner for Enlargement, said: "Article 301 definitely has
to be changed without much delay. Reforms have slowed down because
of political crises." Because conditions were not fulfilled in eight
acquis, they could not be opened. The report said that the prosecution
and punishment of non-violent expressions of opinion was seriously
worrying, pointing out that apart from Article 301, Article 215
(praising a crime and a criminal), Article 215 (inciting the public
to hatred and hostility), Article 220 (founding an organisation in
order to commit a crime), and Article 288 (attempting to influence
the judiciary) were also used to limit the freedom of expressing
non-violent opinions. In addition, the Anti-Terrorism Law was also
worrying in its potential effect on the freedom of expression.
On 29 October, a vehicle taking 150 copies of the Kurdish Azadiya
Welat newspaper was stopped at a military checkpoint for five hours,
despite the fact that there was no court decree to confiscate the
issues. The soldiers only let the vehicle pass after a decree by the
Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court showing the legality of the paper arrived.
On 23 October, the government cited Article 25 of Law 3984 of the
Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) in order to introduce a
broadcasting ban on the PKK attacks in the Daglica region of Hakkari
in which 13 soldiers died on Sunday morning. The article is called
"Banning of Publications/Broadcasts". After Cabinet Minister and
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek applied to RTUK, radio and television
institutions were informed of the broadcasting ban. The text asked for
an end to "radio and television broadcasts which negatively affected
public order and the people’s morale, which showed a weak image of the
security forces and which negatively affected social psychology." The
censorship was criticised by CHP leader Deniz Baykal, by the TGC,
the CGD and the Turkish Journalists’ Trade Union (TGS). Following
the appeal of Kanalturk, the ban was lifted by the 13th Chamber of
the State Council. When the government insisted on the censorship,
the case was taken to the State Council Administrative Case Board,
which rejected the government’s demand.
In October, the website of the Ozgur Gundem newspaper quoted
a statement of the PKK-near HPG organization in the wake of the
Daglica attack in Hakkari, where 12 soldiers were killed and eight
taken hostage. Access to the website was then blocked by court order.
Gundem newspaper representative Ramazan Pekgoz said, "this is another
concrete example of censorship."
On 21 October, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Government
Spokesperson Cemil Cicek both addressed the media. Erdogan said,
"Instead of managing social psychology which may affect our people
negatively, exactly the opposite steps have to be taken. We expect the
support of our visual and print media." Cicek reminded the media of
"many legal powers" and called on the members of the press to "help in
the struggle for this kind of reporting." Prof. Dr. Eser Koker of the
Ankara University Communications Faculty evaluated these reminders as
"interference in the freedom of communication."
On 18 October, Miklos Haraszti, the Media Freedom Representative of
the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),
sent Prime Minister Erdogan a letter in which he called for the
abolition of Article 301, which, so Haraszti, represented a threat
to all journalists who interpreted history differently from the
official line. Haraszti condemned the sentence of Agos newspaper
representatives Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan: "The trials show that
Article 301 is still being used to prosecute in order to prevent the
discussion of topics of interest to the public. The fact that this
article has not been abolished has targeted dissidents with trials
and violence. Thinkers have been turned into objects of hatred with
301." Many international organizations, such as Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Journalists (FIJ),
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Committee for the Protection of
Journalists, and the International Federation for Human Rights
(FIDH), had previously called for the abolition or amendment of the
In the RSF’s annual World Press Freedom ranking, Turkey slipped down
by three places, being place after Indonesia and before Gabon. Until
2005, Turkey showed an improvement by 15 places. In the previous
year, it ranked 98th among 168 countries, together with Bhutan and
the Ivory Coast.
On 9 October, the Istanbul 12th Heavy Penal Court placed a one-month
broadcasting ban on the Gundem newspaper for starting a campaign in
support of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is in prison on Imrali
island. The campaing called "Live and Let Live" was announced in the
9 October issue, which was the first to come out after a previous
one-month publishing ban. The court decreed that the newspaper was
spreading PKK propaganda and cited the Law on Terrorism to close the
paper. Yuksel Genc, the editor of the newspaper, said that the the
publishing ban was anti-constitutional. Gundem newspaper has faced
many such bans, on 6 March 30 days, on 9 April 15 days, on 12 July
15 days, and on 8 September 30 days.
On 3 October, the European Parliament (EP) Foreign Affairs Committee
stated that it welcomed the elections in Turkey, but strongly condemned
the PKK attacks, as well as the murders of Hrant Dink and Priest
Andrea Santoro. The Committee voted to accept a report on EU-Turkey
relations prepared by Ria Oomen-Ruijten, EP rapporteur, with 48 out
of 52 votes. The committee also expressed sadness that still many
people were being tried under Article 301. "For the government, we
see the freedom of expression and press freedom as priorities. The
constitutional draft must not slow down 301 reforms."
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. The lecturers emphasise that the report "does not contain
any elements of violence", as was claimed in the justification for
the trial. "We view Kaboglu and Oran’s trial under Articles 301 and
216 as a restriction of academic freedom."
The joint declaration states that the trial is proof that "in practice,
there is no freedom of expression in Turkey."
On 20 September, the Human Rights Association (IHD) published
its biannual report on rights violations. According to the report
pertaining to the first six months of 2007, 451 people were involved in
94 trials for using their right to freedom of expression. In addition,
there were 88 investigations of 361 people. 103 trials involving 368
people resulted in the sentencing of 193 people to a total of 229
years, 3 months and 15 days imprisonment and 7,981 YTL (around 4,600
Euros) in fines. The IHD noted that these statistics " prove that,
compared to recent years, there has been no improvement in the area of
freedom of expression". According to the association, 17 of the trials
opened in this period were under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code
("degrading Turkishness, the Republic, the State or its institutions"),
22 trials under Article 215 ("praising crime and criminals"), four
trials under Article 314, two trials under Article 216 (inciting the
people to hatred and hostility or degrading"), and two trials under
Article 288 ("attempting to influence the judiciary"). There have
been 20 trials under Article 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law ("spreading
propaganda of a terrorist organisation"), two trials under the Law of
Crimes Committed against Ataturk (the founder of the Turkish Republic),
and one under Article 312 of the old Turkish Penal Code.
On 10 September, the Istanbul 12th Heavy Penal Court decreed a 30-day
closure for the "Gundem" newspaper as 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 closure was based on the Anti-Terrorism Law. 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 continuing penalties have shown
again that Turkey is a problematic country as far as the freedom
of press and expression are concerned." In the article published
on 2 September 2007, entitled "Let us become populist, let us win",
Karayilan had written: "We are a movement which is only based on its
own strength." He declared that the PKK "got its power from society
and that it relied on the people". On the next day, in his article
"Self-criticism not in words but in practice", Karayilan pointed out
mistakes in the "Free Citizen Movement" and called for self-criticism.
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."
Internet sites, among them bianet.org, alinteri.org and atilim.org,
are being blocked in Internet cafes. They are on police lists of
"forbidden websites" which Internet cafe owners adopt in order to
avoid being punished by the police. Although it is illegal to prepare
such lists, Yusuf Andic of the All Internet Cafes association (TieV)
said that district officials and police units had these lists. On
26 June, Yusuf Meral, deputy general manager of a software company
prducing Internet filtre software, told bianet that their website
had been taken off the list of "forbidden sites."
Yasemin Congar, who had written about the scenario meeting of the
General Staff at the Hudson Institute, is being accused of "writing
intentionally untrue news". She had written that at the meeting,
which was joined by a group from the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF),
several scenarios had been imagined and planned: An attack on the
president of the Constitutional Court, a bomb attack with 50 dead
in central Istanbul and a cross-border operation of the TAF into
Northern Iraq. The Modern Journalists’ Association has expressed
its disappointment that the General Staff has joined the targeting
of journalists. On 20 June, Congar made a statement saying that she
was behind her story.
On 13 June, the Turkish Armed Forces Southern Coastal Command in
Northern Cyprus did not allow Genc TV, Kibris newspaper, Kibris Tv,
Bayrak Radio and TV Board, Yeniduzen and Afrika newspapers to watch a
search-and-rescue drill in open water near Gazimagusa. The Cyprus Press
Syndicate and the Cyprus Turkish Journalists’ Union criticised the ban.
On 8 June, lawyer Fikret Ilkiz spoke at an international conference
entitled "Freedom of Expression and its Limits: Penal Code and Freedom
of Expression in Turkey and EU Countries", organised by the Friedrich
Ebert Foundation’s Turkey branch and hosted by Bilgi University. Ilkiz
said, "Although court decrees emphasise the freedom of expression, we
are going backwards. Do we really want freedom of experssion? First
of all lawyers have to answer this question." As an example of the
retrograde trend, Ilkiz gave as examples the court trials against
Selahattin Aydar, Mehmet Sevket Eygi and Hrant Dink.
A broadcasting and publishing ban was put in place in Bingol on 1
June, relating to speculations that the Tatvan-Elazig freight train
which was derailed by a PKK attack on 25 May was carrying weapons.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said that no radio, TV or
print media was allowed to comment on the event or any goods which
At the celebration of the 145th anniversary of the Audit Court on 29
May at the Bilkent Congress Centre in Ankara, invited media (Kanal B,
ART and Kanal Turk) were stopped from entering by Prime Ministerial
bodyguards because they were not accredited by the Prime Ministerial
Office. Although officials of the Audit Court insisted that the media
were guests, they were not allowed in.
At the 5th Istanbul Meeting for the Freedom of Thought, communications
lawyer Fikret Ilkiz and Gercek Gundem website editor Baris Yarkadas
criticised the continuing censorship of the Internet.
Nadire Mater from bianet criticised the mindframe that anyone who
did not concur with Ataturk’s "How happy am I to be Turkish" was
automatically declared a traitor. Journalist Perihan Magden called
for the closure of channels were hate discourses were being spread.
Journalist Ragip Duran pointed out that the closure of websites in
China made the news but that the closure of Kurdish websites was
ignored. At the same meeting, representatives of the International
Press Association (IPA), PEN and Amnesty Intenational also called
for the abolishment of Article 301.
40 representatives from 15 countries discussed freedom of expression
in the "5th Istanbul Meeting for Freedom of Expression". The meeting
began with a press briefing at the Maiden Tower in Uskudar on 25 May.
Alexis Krikorian, representative of the International Publishers
Association (IPA) Sara Whyatt, Secretary of the PEN Committee for
Writers in Prison, and Andrew Gardner, researcher for the Turkish
Desk of Amnesty International (AI) called for the abolishment
of Article 301. Whyatt said that these kind of laws needed to be
abolished everywhere because of their potential of abuse in periods
of instability, while Krikorian claimed that no publisher in Europe
had been taken to court under an Article similar to 301. Gardner said
that freedom of expression was a problem internationally, but that
Article 301 was a priority.
After the bomb attack on a commercial centre in Ankara on 22 May,
the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office declared a ban on all
broadcasts and photographs of the bomb site in order to prevent
physical or psychological damage. 8 people died and more than 100
people were injured in the attack.
Around 100 journalists marched from the Turkey Journalists’ Syndicate
(TGS) building to the Istanbul governor’s office on 4 May to protest
against the maltreatment of reporters and journalists on the hands
of the police when they were covering the 1 May march. The protesters
called for the resignation of governor Muammer Guler. Several of the
journalists attacked by the police have filed complaints.
The Turkey Journalists’ Society (TGC) published a statement on 3 May,
International Freedom of the Press Day, saying that in 2007 Turkey
had not achieved freedom of expression and variety of opinions. The
G9 Platform, which unites 10 journalistic organisations, said that
in the previous year around 300 people had faced the court for using
their right to express themselves freely.
In protest against the police’s heavy handedness and the intensive
use of teargas on 1 May, journalists and reporters staged a "put
down your cameras" protest in the Istiklal pedestrian precinct in
central Istanbul. Journalist Musa Agacik made a statement in which
he declared that the police was obstructing their public duty of
informing people. On 1 May, live broadcast vehicles of TV channels
had been held in a car park until 11 am.
Alper Gormus, editor of Nokta magazine announced the closure of
the magazine after pressure from the army at a press briefing on 21
April. The decision to close had been made by magazine owner Ayhan
Durgun, who it is speculated, was put under intense pressure. Gormus
criticised the fact that no politicians had condemned the way the
magazine had been pressurised.
TV channel Klas in Manavgat (a district of Antalya, southern Turkey)
has been forced to broadcast using a generator, after its electricity
supply was cut off on 9 April. Cengizhan Demirkaya, chairperson of
the managing board claims that the ruling AKP is losing votes and is
trying to silence opposition with pressure and threats.
The website , a self-claimed "culture and art centre
on the Internet" was closed with a court decree on 17 April. Web
manager Cengiz Ekrem Teymur was not informed of the reason of the
closure. After an appeal, the site was reopened on 27 April.
On 12 April, access to the popular Internet dictionary Eksisozluk was
blocked by court decree because of claims that it was violating the
personal rights of Adnan Oktar, the leader of an Islamic sect. Basak
Purut, lawyer representing the site, said that the blocking of
access was similar to that of the blocking of Youtube in terms
of disproportionality". Oktar also managed to get access to the
Superpoligon news website blocked.
On 7 April, Gundem newspaper, reopening after a month’s closure,
was again closed by decree of a heavy penal court in Istanbul. The
court decided that the editions of 7 and 8 April 2007 represented
"PKK/Kongra-Gel propaganda" and closed the newspaper for 15 days. The
decision is based on the last paragraph of Article 6 of the new Law
On 26 March, the Committee for Freedom of Publication of the Turkish
Publishers’ Union (TYB) published its Freedom of Publication Report,
which includes data on 2006 and the first three months of 2007.
According to the report, publishers, writers and journalists were
working under severe restrictions of the freedom of expression. In
2006, 293 writers, publishers, journalists, intellectuals, translators
and human rights activists were taken to court for expressing,
publishing or translating their thoughts. This number compares to 157
people in the year before. The TYB also referred to the BIA2 Media
Monitoring Report, saying that 44 books of 25 publishers were put on
trial in 2006. Ragip Zarakolu of the committee said, "2006 has been
one of the worst years for the freedom of expression and press freedom,
and unfortunately, problems are continuing in 2007."
After the Azadiye Welat newspaper was closed, the Istanbul 13th Heavy
Penal Court handed a 15-day publishing ban to Guncel newspaper which
had been started on 19 March. The newspaper was accused of spreading
PKK propaganda and praising PKK-leader Abdullah Ocalan. Mehmet samur,
editor of the newspaper, complained that five Kurdish newspapers had
been closed within the last six months. He argued that the Kurdish
issue would not be solved by banning democratic Kurdish print media.
The Hurriyet Mediterranean newspaper, which was running its
first test print at the Hurriyet site in Antalya on 22 March, was
confiscated on the order of Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor Yusuf Hakki
Dogan. Oktay Eksi, president of the Press Council, protested against
the decision. Orhan Erinc, president of the Turkish Journalists’
Society (TGC) and writer for the Cumhuriyet newspaper, also condemned
On 22 March, the Diyarbakir 5th Heavy Penal Court cited Article 6/5 of
the Law on Terrorism in order to hand out a 20-day publishing ban for
the Azadiya Welat newspaper. On 13 March, the newspaper had published
and article entitled "The Bolu Brigade is moving to Kurdistan." The
newspaper has been accused of separatist propaganda which assumes that
there is another state in the territory of the Turkish Republic, of
publishing photos of PKK members walking in the mountains, of reporting
Abdullah Ocalan’s views on Kurdistan Democratic Confederalism in their
issue of 14 March, of supporting the PKK leader by saying that "Imrali
(prison) is a fortress of oppression," and of printing statements of
support and praise for Ocalan in the 17 March issue. The newspaper
was also published for referring to events in Diyarbakir, Mersin and
Siirt as happening in "Kurdistan."
On 17 March, the Turkish Journalists’ Trade Union Ankara branch
announced that journalist Fatma Sibel Yurek had been put under pressure
because of her book "What the Prime Ministerial Office does not know."
After the Ulkede Ozgur Gundem newspaper received a one-month publishing
ban, the Yasamda Gundem newspaper was confiscated on 9 March 2007 with
the argument it represented a continuation of the first newspaper. The
Istanbul Chief Public Prosecution ordered the police to confiscate
future issues of the newspaper, too.
The Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court decided on a one-month publishing
ban for the Ulkede Ozgur Gundem newspaper with two separate decisions
on the same day. News items relating to allegations that Abdullah
Ocalan was being poisoned in prison, as well as other items said to be
"prasing criminals and spreading terrorist propaganda" were cited as
reasons for closure. Article 25 of the Press Law No. 5287 related to
confiscation, distribution and ban on sales was applied.
On 9 March, the Cumhuriyet newspaper published a "Media Analysis
Report" which allegedly was also shown to Prime Minister Erdogan.
Under the headline "The Prime Ministerial Office is Marking the
Media," the newspaper claimed that newspapers were evaluated for
their closeness to government and that the Prime Minister was then
briefed. The press centre of the Prime Ministerial Office denied the
content of the article.
On 8 March, the Nokta magazine published a three-page memorandum
prepared by the army, in which there is a "reevaluation of accredited
print and broadcasting media institutions." The Turkish Journalists’
Society (TGC), the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD), the
Turkish Journalists’ Trade Union (TGS) and the Press Council evaluated
the memorandum as objectionable, worrying, and anti-democratic. Chief
of General Staff Yasar Buyukanit said: "I have not seen the
memorandum. It was a draft."
After publishing a news item on working conditions for workers at
Selcuk University in Konya, based on information sent in by a worker,
access to the alinter.net website was blocked by court order. After
the website took the relevant item off the site on 6 March, the site
was reopened a week later. A complainant, employer Nusret Argun,
has filed a 20,000 YTL compensation claim against Sakine Yalcin,
former responsible editor for Alinteri.
After former president and coup leader Kenan Evren said that Turkey
should be divided into federal states, human rights activists
defended his right to free speech. On 5 March, Yusuf Alatas of the
Human Rights Association (IHD) said, "It is unacceptable to us that
Evren’s statements should lead to an investigation."
The Free Thought and Education Rights Association (Ozgur Der)
condemned the Diyarbakir governor’s office for forbidding the Kerkuk
conference planned by the Kurdish National Democratic Working Group
(KUDCG) on 4 March. The ban was based on Article 17 of Law No 2911 on
Meetings, Protests and Marches, according to which the governor can
forbid events if "there is a clear and present danger that a crime
will be committed." Ozgur Der called on the government to "give up
the pressure and politics of intimidation, as well as policies which
On 18 February, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD)
condemned the tax investigations of the Ministry of Finance against
Kanalturk television, the channel’s founders and some programme
directors. CGD president Ahmet Abakay said that the government was
using the ministry as a "triggerman" to intimidate the media.
At the beginning of February, around 80 lecturers at the Middle
Eastern Technical University (ODTU) in Ankara demanded the abolition
of Article 301, "the only function of which is to create ‘enemies’
among us." Around the same time, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation
(TIHV) condemned the hypocrisy of the government for excluding NGOs
and human rights groups from the discussion on Article 301.
The General Staff cancelled its accreditation for the TGRT channel
after it showed video recordings of Hrant Dink’s murder suspect O.S.
with gendarmerie and police officers and the phrase "The soil of the
fatherland is holy and cannot be abandoned" in the background.
On 9 February, the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Association
for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (Mazlum-Der),
the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and the Turkey branch of Amnesty
International decided to revive the "Campaign for Freedom of Thought"
which was started in November 2006. The platform is pushing for the
abolition of Article 301 in the short term and long-term guarantees for
the freedom of thought and expression. Bosphorus University lecturers
also signed a call for the abolition of the article.
Making a statement on 29 January, the Turkish Journalists’ Society
(TGC) president Orhan Erinc accused the government of hypocrisy. The
government had announced that it was "awaiting suggestions by NGOs"
relating to Article 301, whereas a proposal by the TGC and the Turkish
Penal Code Association was sent to the government on 23 November 2006.
On 29 January, ten days after the murder of journalist Hrant Dink,
journalists, writers, artists, academics, lawyers and representatives
of democratic organizations sold his Agos newspaper on the Istiklal
Street in central Istanbul in order to support the newspaper.
Organisers of the event and the Agos newspaper received threatening
The weekly caricature magazine Penguen, which has been sued by Prime
Minister Erdogan, prepared its front cover of the 18-24 January issue
as an empty space with the sub-heading: "This week’s cover was prepared
by Tayyip Erdogan…"
The Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court decreed that the talks given
by Kurdish writer Mehmet Uzun and politician Orhan Dogan at the
"Turkey is Looking for Peace" conference should be "listened to
as a precautionary measure." Conference participant Orhan Miroglu
protested against the decree,saying that it was "very frightening"
that the speeches by a famous novelist and a respected writer could
be turned into a legal issue. Yusuf Alatas, lawyer and president of
the Human Rights Association (IHD) said, "This is a result of the
confusion of court, police and prosecution."
On 12 January, the news website was closed down
by Turkish Telecom because of a news item relating to Minister of
Agriculture Mehdi Eker and a bid. Editor Tayfun Salci said that the
Ankara 12th Criminal Court of Peace had informed him by phone that
access to the site was banned all over Turkey.
On 10 January, the Day of Working Journalists, press organizations
demanded the reinstatement of Law 212, which safeguards certain
securities for journalists. The TGS, TGC and CGD said that the day
had long ceased to be a day of celebration, while the TGS called for
respect for trade union rights.
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) On 13 December, the ECHR
decreed that Turkey had violated the freedom of expression and the
right to a fair trial when it punished and arrested Akin Birdal, then
president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), for "inciting the
public to hatred and hostility" after he made a speech at the World
Peace and Fight against Poverty Day. The ECHR awarded Birdal 5,000
Euros in damages. Birdal had said, "The Kurdish issue is not only
the problem of the oppressed Kurdish people..There is systematic use
of torture…there are summary executions…and all of these result
from the fact that the Kurdish issue is not solved." He was sentenced
by the Ankara State Security Court on 21 October 1997. After a local
court resisted the decision, he was arrested in 1999. Because of health
problems, he was released on probation on 25 December 1999. When there
were changes made to Article 312 as part of the EU reform package,
the charges against Birdal were also lifted.
On 12 December, the ECHR decreed that Turkey was in the wrong
when it sentenced Mehmet Nuri Karakoyun and Mehmet Salih Turan,
owner and responsible editor of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper
respectively. On 10 May 2002, the Istanbul State Security Court had
fined the newspaper for "publishing the statements of a terrorist
organisation", citing Article 6/2 of the Law on Terrorism. The ECHR
told Turkey to pay both people a total of 3,462 Euros compensation
and legal costs each. The State Security Council had also handed
out a one-week publication ban to the newspaper. In recent months,
there have been frequent publication bans on Kurdish newspapers, such
as Gercek Demokrasi, Ulkede Ozgur Gundem, Yasamda Gundem, Guncel,
Azadiya Welat, Gundem and Gercek.
On 4 December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Turkey
to be wrong in the broadcasting ban of "Ozgur" ("Free") Radio, saying
that it represented a violation of the freedom of expression. After
the radio station played the "Nurhak" song on 9 July 2000, the Radio
and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) cited Article 4 (g) of Law 3984
on Radio and Television Corporations and Broadcasts and closed the
station. It was argued that the song incited hatred and hostility.
The broadcasting ban was approved by the State Council in 2002,
after which the Ozgur Radio- Ses Radio Television Broadcasting,
Film-Making and Advertising Company appealed to the ECHR.
On 29 November, the ECHR decreed that Turkey had violated the freedom
of expression when handing out a heavy fine and a publishing ban to
the Yedinci Gundem newspaper. After publishing an interview with a
leading member of the PKK, the newspaper was banned for fifteen days,
and editor Hidir Ates and owner Hunkar Demirel were handed heavy
fines. According to the ECHR, there had also not been a fair trial,
and it sentenced Turkey to paying 3,000 Euros compensation.
On 27 November, the ECHR sentenced Turkey to paying 1,500 Euros
compensation to Omer Sukru Asan. Asan appealed to the European Court
of Human Rights (ECHR) after his book "Pontus Culture" was confiscated
for allegedly containing "separatist propaganda". The book was first
published by Belge Publications in 1996. The first edition was not
stopped. In 1999, the book was published in Greece, and the second
edition came out in Turkey in 2000. The then State Security Court
decreed the confiscation of the book in January 2002.
The ECHR questioned why the second edition was confiscated if the
first one was not and there had been no changes in law. According
to the ECHR, the only difference was that the media had pounced on
the publication of the second edition. The court said that it was
not convinced that it was necessary in a democratic society for the
government to limit the freedom of expression of Asan. It further
recorded that the book did not contain any political theses but
rather ethnological, cultural and linguistic information. The book
was allowed to be sold again in Augst 2003, after the ban on the book
had been lifted.
In a separate case on 27 November, the ECHR found no grounds for
the six-month closure of Nur Radio station and TV channel by the
Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK). A person at the radio
station had described the earthquake of August 1999 as "a warning from
Allah". However, the ECHR did not consider it necessary to sentence
Turkey to compensation or investigate a claim of discrimination in
The ECHR has asked Turkey to submit a defense concerning four appeals
by employees and representatives of the Ulkede Ozgur Gundem and Gundem
newspapers because of publication bans. The court had decided to deal
with these cases as priorities and had called for Turkey’s defense
since July. Turkey sent its defense in the middle of October.
On 2 October, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decreed that
the punishment of Akin Birdal, former president of the Human Rights
Association (IHD) and now MP for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society
Party (DTP) in Diyarbakir, for a speech he made on World Peace Day 12
years ago was a violation of the freedom of expression. He was awarded
7,000 Euros compensation. Birdal spoke at the United Communist Party
branch in Mersin, southern Turkey, in September 1995.
He said in his speech that the constitution of 12 September [i.e. the
constitution created by the military junta after the military coup in
1980] did not protect Kurdish citizens. He was sentenced to five years
imprisonment and a fine by a State Security Court in Adana in December
1998 and went to prison in 2000. Although Birdal was finally acquitted
in February 2005, he was not compensated for his time in prison,
as a law concerned with such cases only came into effect in June 2005.
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.
Milliyet journalist Meral Tamer and editor Eren Guvener, imprisoned
after criticising President Suleyman Demirel after the 1999 earthquake,
won their case at the ECHR on 26 June. Accused of "insulting the
president", they had been imprisoned in September 2000. They are now
to be paid a total of 6,000 Euros in compensation.
Historian Taner Akcam, professor at Minnesota University and known
for his insistence that an Armenian genocide took place in Turkey,
has applied to the ECHR because his academic research is threatened
by Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Akcam said that Article 301
is incongruent with articles 7,10 and 14 of the European Convention
on Human Rights.
On 14 June, the ECHR decided that the freedom of speech of Yedinci
Gundem editor Hunkar Demirel had not been violated. In June 2002,
Demirel had been sentenced to 3 years and 9 months imprisonment after
writing an article discussing "reasons for joining the organisation"
[i.e. the PKK]. The ECHR agreed with the Turkish court that the
article incited the use of violence.
On 14 June, the ECHR sentenced Turkey to a total of 5,250 Europs
compensation for violating Article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights in three separate cases. Mehmet Colak, editor at Yeniden
Ozgur Gundem, had appealed because the newspaper had been banned from
provinces under emergency rule in September 2002. Mehmet Selim Okcuoglu
had appealed against a prison sentence and fine for an article he wrote
for a brochure of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HADEP). He
had been convicted of spreading "separatist propaganda" and "inciting
hatred and hostility". Tuncay Seyman and Fevzi Saygili, editor and
owner of Evrensel newspaper also won their appeal at the ECHR.
Publisher Saim Ustun has won his appeal to the ECHR for compensation
from Turkey. He had published a book on director Yilmaz Guney’s life
and political attitudes in 1992 and had been tried for "spreading
separatist propaganda" in 2000, ending a six-month stay in prison,
then a conversion of the sentence into a fine, and then acquittal.
The ECHR awarded him 3,000 Euros compensation, arguing that the
book did not call for a revolution or armed resistance and did not
On 3 May, the ECHR decreed that the right of freedom of expression of
Ilyas Emir, editor of magazine Guney Kultur-Sanat-Edebiyat, of his
drama "Enemy of Justice" and of the theatre group Teatra Jiyana nu
(Kurdish for: New Life Theatre) had been violated by Turkey under
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Turkey has
been sentenced to paying a total of 61,000 Euros compensation and
On 12 April, the ECHR decreed that Hunkar Demirel and Hidir Ates,
editor and owner of the Yedinci Gundem newspaper be paid 3,000 Euros
compensation and expenses. The two had been sentenced to two fines each
for publishing statements by PKK members and conducting an interview
with a PKK leader. The ECHR decreed that there were no expressions
The Gundem newspaper, which was closed for a month in March for
"spreading terrorist propaganda" has appealed against the Law on
Terrorism and demanding that particularly the last paragraph of
Article 6 of the law be examined.
On 20 February, the ECHR decreed that Mustafa Benli, owner and editor
of the magazines Target, Highschool Friend and Alevi People’s Reality,
did not receive a fair trial wneh he was sentence to 12 years and 6
months imprisonment for being a member of the Turkish Revolution Party
(TDP), but decided not to consider other complaints, including that
of violation of freedom of expression.
The ECHR also decreed that HADEP deputy chair Osman Ozcelik had
experienced a violation of his right to freedom and security when he
was questioned after being taken into custody in an operation against
the PKK and speaking to Med TV while in detention. Turkey is to pay
him 3,000 Euros compensation.
The ECHR also decreed that Ayse Oyman, who ignored a ban and
distributed the Yedinci Gundem newspaper and was imprisoned for three
months, had not received a fair trial. She was awarded 1,000 Euros
On 23 January, the ECHR decreed that Turkey pay Bulent Falkaoglu
and Fevzi Saygili, the responsible editor and licence holder of the
Yeni Evrensel newspaper respectively, 5,000 Euros compensation for
violating their freedom of experssion and denying them a fair trial.
In addition, Saygili was awarded another 1,000 Euros legal costs in
RTUK (Radio and Television Supreme Council) Implementations On 7
November, RTUK warned NTV channel for quoting Erato Kozaku-Marcoullis,
the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, who had spoken of "a state
which qualified as the occupier of Northern Cyprus and which displayed
threatening behaviour and did not obey international agreements." RTUK
said that the channel had not broadcast within the framework of public
service, appropriate to national security and general morals." As
a punishment, RTUK announced it would stop the relevant programme
between 1 and 12 times.
On 7 November, it was reported that RTUK had handed out fines totalling
200,000 YTL (around 115,540 Euros) to the local Diyarbakir Gun TV
channel for "broadcasts violating truth and neutrality" and preventing
people from making up their mind freely. In a news item referring to
the bomb explosion in Diyarbakir centre on 16 September 2006, when
children were also killed, the channel had said that "the police made
the traders close up their shops". It received a 80,000 YTL fine for
this item and had to pay within 15 days. The fine was given on 27
February 2007, with RTUK citing Article 4 of Law No. 3984 on Radio
and Television Institutions and Broadcasting Rights. The prosecution
had also investigated this case, but decided that the news item was
referring to the fact that the police asked traders to keep their shops
closed for security reasons and that no trial should be opened. In
a second case, on 8 April, Gun TV had broadcast a news item based on
information from the Dicle News Agency, saying that two distributors
of the "Gundem" newspaper had been beaten up by police and one been
arrested. This item was broadcast on the main news programme for
1.5 hours. RTUK again fined the channel for "a broadcast violating
truth and neutrality". Citing Article 33 of Law 3984, which allowed
a 50 percent increase in a punishment if a violation occured for the
second time within a year, RTUK handed out a fine of 120,000 YTL. Gun
TV has gone to court in order to fight against this heavy fine and is
waiting for the decision of the Ankara Regional Administrative Court.
RTUK announced 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 delayed giving the names of TV channels
and radio stations disobeying the election bans to the YSK.
The Ankara 24th Penal Court has demanded between 1 and 3 years
imprisonment for Akman for "abusing his position."
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.
The High Commission for Radio and Television has decided to penalize
13 television channels for ignoring the ban on broadcasting images
from the bomb site of Ankara’s 22 May bombing. Flash TV, Haber Turk,
Ulusal 1, Kanal Turk, Kanal 1, NTV, TV5, Kanal D, Star, CNN Turk, STV,
Sky Turk and Kanal 24 will all be penalized under law 3984, Article 33.
Because Kanalturk reported in its main news programme that there was
corruption at the Is bank, RTUK punished the channel by handing out a
one-time broadcasting ban for the news. The channel had to broadcast
something else instead.
On 14 February, RTUK president Zahid Akman spoke on Can Dundar’s
"Why?" programme on NTV, saying that quite a few national TV
foundations had been faced with a cancellation of their licence for
breaking the rules of broadcasting. He called on channels to broadcast
responsibly. Akman said that meetings with TV representatives had
been fruitful, but that they were often caught between RTUK rules and
the desire of media bosses to increase ratings. Akman warned that if
broadcasting corporations were not responsible, particularly as far
as news programmes were concerned, RTUK would be forced to apply Law
Saban Sevinc, a member of RTUK, said in a written statement that
at a meeting on 8 February some members of RTUK had said that news
programmes only reporting on negative events should be penalized.
Sevinc condemned this attitude as a clear interference in press
freedom and as "camouflaged censorship."
On 9 February, Istanbul’s Anadolu’nun Sesi (Anatolia’s Voice)
radio was handed an unlimited broadcasting ban. RTUK justified its
decision by saying that the radio station was broadcasting programmes
which promoted social violence, ethnic discrimination, and incited
the public to hatred and hostility by showing differences of race,
language, religion, religious confession and region." On 7 October
2003, the radio station had been handed a 30-day broadcasting after
playing a song by protest singer Ahmet Kaya in reaction to operations