Thursday, January 04, 2007

Article 301 Strikes Again

The BBC reported recently that four members of the Turkish publishing industry were acquitted of the charge that they violated Turkey's infamous Article 301:

Publisher Fatih Tas was found not guilty, along with a translator and two editors, of contravening article 301 of the penal code.

The European Union has pressed Turkey to reform the code, which it views as a bar on freedom of expression.

It followed the acquittal of another author, Ipek Calislar, on Tuesday.

Ms Calislar had been accused of insulting modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, by writing that he had once fled disguised as a woman.

The law has also been used against dozens of writers and journalists, including acclaimed novelists Orhan Pamuk - this year's Nobel laureate for literature - and Elif Shafak.

Most have been acquitted.

(Emphasis added-DD)

The text of Article 301, according to Amnesty International, is as follows:

"1. Public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.

2. Public denigration of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security structures shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.

3. In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.

4. Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime."

Turkey needs to repeal Article 301 if it wants to be taken seriously as a free society.


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