190 People Sued for Their Opinions

The latest quarterly BIA Media Monitoring Report is dominated by cases concerned with “incitement of hatred and hostility” and “spreading propaganda for an illegal organization”. 6 journalists were attacked and seek justice in court. 46 people under charges of “defamation” face prison sentences of more than 76 years altogether and fines of 1,186,610 TL in compensation…



Istanbul – BIA News Center

10 November 2009, Tuesday

The judiciary continues its unlawful struggle against free discussions and freedom of communication regarding the “Kurdish Initiative”, taking advantage out of anti-democratic laws that are not in line with international standards.

190 people in 3 months were accused for their “thoughts”

The Independent Communication Network (B?A) Media Monitoring Board released its 3rd quarterly Media Monitoring Report for July, August and September 2009. The report reveals prosecution of 190 people, 74 of them journalists, in 80 court cases foreseeing prison sentences or compensation fines.

The Media Monitoring Report includes sections on “attacks and threats”, “detentions and arrests”, “cases on press freedom and freedom of expression”, “amendments and seeking justice”, “European Court of Human Rights”, “reactions to censorship” and “RTÜK applications”.

Increase in penalties on “terror” and “incitement”

Concerning the “Kurdish Initiative” in particular, the report is dominated by 2 kinds of charges. One is the prosecution under article 216 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) on “inciting hatred and hostility”. The other one regards cases on the grounds of article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) on “spreading propaganda for an illegal organization”.

5 journalists out of a total of 12 people are prosecuted under article 216 of the TCK. Lawyer Eren Keskin, thespian Murat Batgi and author Edip Polat were each sentenced to 1 year imprisonment for using the term “Kurdistan”. Dicle (‘Tigris’) News Agency (D?HA) journalists Ercan Öksüz and Oktay Candemir received a 6 months prison sentence each for an interview with witnesses of the Zilan Massacre. In comparison, during the same period of time in 2008 8 people were tried under charges of article 216.

25 people were tried in the context of the TMY, among them 16 journalists. Prison sentences were handed to Former Democracy Party (DEP) member Leyla Zana (1year 3 months), writer Orhan Miro?lu (2 years 4 month), and journalists Tayip Temel (1 year) and Rü?tü Demirkaya (1 year 10 months 15 days).

20 trials under charges of violating the TMY are still continuing for Veysi Sar?sözen, Ziya Çiçekçi, Abdullah Demirba?, Cevat Dü?ün, Rag?p Zarakolu, Emine Ayna, Selahattin Demirta?, Ahmet Türk, Nam?k Durukan, Hasan Çakkalkurt, N. Mehmet Güler, Osman Baydemir, Filiz Koçali, Bülent Y?lmaz, Yüksel Genç, Hakan Tahmaz, ?brahim Çe?mecio?lu, Nedim ?ener, Ferhat Tunç and Fakir Y?lmaz.

“Harmful” period for novels

The Prime Ministry Board for the Protection of Young Ones from Harmful Publications banned the novel “Third Class Women” by An?l Alacao?lu published by Minima Publishing.

Sell Publications owner ?rfan Sanc? faces imprisonment in a trial under charges of “spreading obscenity” because of his books “Peri’s Pendulum”, “The Adventures of a Young Don Juan” and “Letters of a Well-Mannered and Knowledgeable Bourgeois Women”.

Internet censorship on the rise

Access to the video sharing site youtube.com has already been banned for 1 ½ years. Now, access is also blocked to the social networking sites myspace.com and lastFM.com because or “precautionary measures”.

Amendments of article 301 not applied to Miro?lu

Even though the investigation and prosecution under article 301 of the TCK is dependent on the permission of the Ministry of Justice, this did not help writer Orhan Miro?lu. The ministry allowed his prosecution.

During the third quarter of 2009 17 people are tried under article 301, 12 of them journalists. The Court of Appeals judged for the acquittal of author Rahmi Y?ld?r?m who had been tried for saying “The pashas are the guardians of the capital system”.

Where are the ones to hold responsible for murders?

The people responsible for the murders of Abdi ?pekçi, U?ur Mumcu, Ahmet Taner K??lal? and Hrant Dink committed throughout the last 30 years could still not be disclosed. As far as the Hrant Dink murder is concerned, gendarmerie and police officials who were mentioned to be responsible for the assassination are not included in the court case.

Journalists exposed to violence do not give up!

6 journalists from local media organs were attacked in the months of July, August and September, namely Diya Yarayan, Durmu? Tuna, Yakup Önal and Hac? Bo?atekin. With their judicial struggles they try to break the firm circle of impunity.

One journalist released from detention

Former Azadiya Welat newspaper editor-in-chief Vedat Kur?un is kept in detention since January under allegations of “spreading PKK propaganda”, waiting in prison for his hearing on 2 December. ?zmir Democratic Radio publishing coordinator Nadiye Gürbüz was released. She had been accused for cooperating with the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).

In the case against the “Ergenekon terror organization”, Cumhuriyet newspaper Ankara correspondent Mustafa Balbay rejected the “Diaries”. Balbay is a detained defendant in the Ergenekon case under charges of “attempting to change the constitutional order by armed force”.

4 journalists from D?HA Agency are in prison. One of them is Abdurrahaman Gök whose case under charges of “propaganda for an illegal organization” has started. Revolutionary Democracy magazine director Erdal Güler is also accused for “propaganda for an illegal organization” in several cases. If he is not convicted he will be released in December.

The trial against gazetevatan.com publishing director Aylin Duruo?lu and Revolutionary Movement Journal employee Mehmet Ye?iltepe starts on 23 February 2010. Both of them had been detained in the context of an operation regarding the Revolutionary Headquarters Organization. Journalist Ahmet Birsin from Gün TV is in prison since 14 April, the indictment has not yet been prepared.

Facing 61 years of imprisonment for “defamation”

46 people, 13 journalists among them, under allegations of “insult” and “defamation” are facing a prison sentence of in total up to 76 years, 4 months and 20 days and fines of 1,186,610 TL (approximately € 540,000) in compensations or judicial fines.

Star newspaper wirter ?amil Tayyar has to pay a fine of 2,610 TL (€ 1,185) to un-detained Ergenekon Case defendant Güler Kömürcü because of alleged “insult”. Tayyar was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment on the grounds of “publishing information about private life and violating the confidentiality of privacy”.

Adana Ekspres newspaper employee Sevda Turaçlar was tried because of an anecdote about President Abdullah Gül. She was convicted in the first hearing of the case, her sentence was postponed.

Slogans against Erdo?an at court

The Bursa 2nd Children’s Court sentenced O.K. to 3 months and 26 days of community service because s/he said “You are a light bulb, Tayyip”. 13-year-old M.S.Ö. affronted Prime Minister Erdo?an by saying “May god give you trouble” during the prime minister’s visit to the south-western coast of Turkey. The Ayd?n Children’s Court dropped the case.

?erafettin Gökdeniz, Sercan Bak?r and Ekin Can K?n?k from Labour Youth were acquitted. They had uttered the slogan “He was born in Istanbul, he became American, murderer Bush’s son Tayyip Erdo?an”.

A few good news…

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey has to pay € 3,000 (TL 6,600) in compensation to Seyithan Demir. He was tried under allegations of “separatism” since he said sentences like “We will found Kurdistan” and “Special forces and soldiers kill our people and innocent children”.

The Court of Appeals overturned the decision regarding Gaziantep Sabah newspaper editor Nurgün Balc?o?lu’s conviction to pay compensation. She had criticized retired judge Zekeriya Dilsizo?lu for saying “Of 10,000 murder cases women have a finger in the pie in 9,000 cases”. (EÖ/VK)