Sunday, October 14, 2007

Article 301

Do you remember that in the sixties you couldn't wear an American flag as a scarf, a bow or a shirt. People actually went to jail for that. Not anymore and that is good. In Turkey, people get killed and go to prison for reminding that in 1915 one and half million Armenians got killed. It is article 301 that allows the state to put people in jail for insulting the state. Even at the highest levels of Turkish government there is recognition that this law is problematic. A few days ago, newly elected President Abdullah Gül suggested that it could be amended. International PEN is calling for the article’s repeal, and is thus hugely disappointed that around twenty writers and journalists are presently on trial under Article 301 and that convictions continue. On 27 September, writer, Umur Hoztali was convicted to a six month prison sentence, commuted to a fine of around 1,770 Euros. He had been charged for an article entitled ‘Irritating Men’ which criticized the police and judiciary and suggesting that they are mistrusted by the general public. In another high profile case, that of publisher Ragip Zarakolu, who was in court in early October at the twelfth hearing of a case against him opened in August 2005 for publishing a book by an Armenian author about her family history. The hearing was once again adjourned. These developments indicate that there has been little change of attitude towards the application of Article 301 despite Hrant Dink’s murder. Arat Dink, his son, and the Agos magazine license holder got sentenced on October 11 to a one year suspended prison sentence.
German PEN has announced that Agos Magazine will be awarded Hemann Kesten medal 2007 endowed since 2000 with € 10.000 by the Hessia Ministry of Sciences and Arts. The medal will be presented to Hrant Dink’s wife, Rakel Dink, at a ceremony to take place in Darmstadt, Germany, on 15 November 2007, International PEN’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer. The guest speaker will be Daniel Cohn-Bendit, French-German publicist and politician (MEP).
A state should be able to live with different opinions, so art 301 needs to be repealed.

1 comment:

  1. An American flag on a scarf? Not so bad as 'Mister Bush' on the toilet paper and King Albert II as a puppet on a string.
    Tastes changed!