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09 February 2007

Support for 301 continues

From today's Turkish Daily News:
The president of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO), who also spoke at the same press conference, criticized the government for expecting to hear opinions of civil society organizations on 301. If you are a powerful government and if you have been given the authority to rule the country, then you change the law as you deem correct and take responsibility for it.”

Aygün said Article 301 actually worked to protect those who want to abolish it.

According to the ATO president, individuals who make mindless statements dismissing the people of the country and the nation's assets will continue to do so freely. “They will be comfortable when that happens. However, there's one thing they forget. The citizens will be reacting [to these statements].”

Many thanks to Erkan for posting this link (who I presume does not share my qualified defense of 301) The above sentiment is very much compatible with and validates what I've been saying about Article 301 all along. -AT

12 comments:

Sean said...

Concerns grow over Turkey rights
Friday, 9th February 2007. 3:06pm

By: Matthew Cresswell.

TWO TURKISH Christians are facing trial in Istanbul for ‘insulting’ their nationality and reviling Islam.

Meanwhile heightened security surrounds Silivri where the trial is unfolding in light of the recent assination of Turkish Christian journalist Hrant Dink — murdered in Istanbul by a teenage nationalist.

The two men, Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, are facing criminal charges for insulting their Turkish identity under the nation’s Article 301. Heading up the team of opposition lawyers was ultranationalist attornet Kemal Kerincsiz — known for hounding Dink who spoke against the government’s silencing of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Both converts from Islam, Tastan and Topal are also being accused of reviling Islam, under Article 216, and for compiling private data on Turkish citizens for a correspondence course, Article 135.

One accuser was Fatih Kose, aged 23, who gave an account of when he had allegedly heard ‘illegal’ statements from the two defendants. But defence lawyer Haydar Polat told Compass News his testimony was very ‘contradictory’, which angered the judge hearing the case.

It was also unclear as to why the other two accusers, two teenage boys, were unable to testify.

The court was told that they had not received permission from school, but this was questionable as Turkey’s schools were currently on vacation. The next hearing will be on April 18.

Link to the original article:
http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/news/?NewsID=605

Anonim said...

Interesting, but according to the same TDN news article quoted above, another supporter of 301, Ali Ercan, the deputy chairman of the Kemalist Thought Association, claims that "[r]elating the murder of journalist Hrant Dink to this article is nothing but misleading the public." Somehow Murat and Aygün, the ATO president, think otherwise. Of course, Ercan is objecting to those who claim declare 301 as the main instigator of the murder of Dink, whereas Murat and Aygün are implying Dink was murdered because he disobeyed 301 (he had it coming, forgot that some things are too dangerous to speak about, etc.) Big difference! Goes to show you could be terribly wrong in entirely different ways.

How about the other guy, Mustafa Erkal, Turkish Solidarity Council spokesperson. According to the article referenced above, he said: "There is a shameless campaign against the article. It is also very significant that this campaign is being carried out through our civil society organizations." "He then called on the government to clearly define its stance on 301, instead of 'hiding behind certain civil society organizations and their ambiguous statements.'"

What? Shameless and very significant? What is shameless and very significant?.. Jesus Christ!

To be fair, as Murat quoted, Aygün also "criticized the government for expecting to hear opinions of civil society organizations on 301," and added: “If you are a powerful government and if you have been given the authority to rule the country, then you change the law as you deem correct and take responsibility for it."

Oh, by the way, here are something (news) and something (editorial) about what those civil society organizations had been up to. And, here is the Justice Ministry's dismissal of what they came up with. I am pleased to see myself in agreement with Turkish doctors (TBB), one worker's union (DISK), and to some extent with the Justice Ministry for their refusal to entertain non-sense.

Gulay said...

Andy here,

Murat I understand your thinking on Article 301, although to pass a law restricting free speech (which in reality is what it does)to protect people who may oppose the establishment seems somewhat ironic to me. Gulay and I have discussed this alot and I agree with her to a point but am in total agreement with her over one aspect of it. It seems that there are a group of self appointed protecters of Turkishness who have made it their mission to prosecute anyone who says even one negative thing about the country. That is where the weakness is with the law. I mean for Amerikan Turks is it not embarrassing that the guardians of Turkish virtue are frothing mouth xenophobes with absolutely no sense of the absurd? If anyone is guilty of insulting Turkishness it is the likes of these ultra Nationalist Lawyers who seem to think they are protecting Ataturk's legacy but surely they are damaging it and making the Turkish legal system a joke in the eyes of the International community. If that is not insulting Turkishness I don't know what is!!

Sean said...

Andy,

Very well put. Why can't more people see it?

Sean said...

This quote from the movie The Interpreter (with Nicole Kidman) made me think of the struggle of the Armenians for recognition of the Genocide:

"The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear. But the human voice is different from other sounds. It can be heard over noises that bury everything else.

Even when it's not shouting.

Even when it's just a whisper.

Even the lowest whisper can be heard - over armies... when it's telling the TRUTH."

The Armenian whisper is being heard by Congressman, government officials, intellectuals, writers, historians, professors, newspaper editors, magazine publishers, etc. from around the World.

Sean said...

Every Turk must read this:

“My Turkishness in Revolt”
By Taner Akçam

EDITOR’S NOTE: Taner Akçam – Turkish intellectual, professor at the University of Minnesota, and the author of A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility – recently became the subject of a formal complaint under Turkey’s Penal Code Article 301: the same “crime” of “insulting Turkishness” for which Hrant Dink was tried and found guilty by the Turkish judiciary. The essay below – originally published as Türklüğümün İsyanı (”The Revolt of My Turkishness”) in the January 24, 2007 edition of the Turkish newspaper, Radikal – is Mr. Akçam’s approved English translation of his original Turkish-language article. It is being reprinted in the Reporter with the author’s permission.

I am a Turk. Hrant was an Armenian. I write for Agos. He was Agos. Hrant, Agos’s Turkish writers, and Agos itself risked everything for a cause: to cease the hostility between Turks and Armenians; to bring the resentment and hatred to an end. We wanted each group, each nationality, to live together on the common ground of mutual respect.

Hrant and Agos were a single flower blooming on the barren plains of Turkey. That flower was destroyed, torn from the ground. Everyone says, “The bullet fired at Hrant hit Turkey.” That’s true, but we need to ask ourselves in complete and transparent honesty: Who made the target for that bullet? Who targeted Hrant so the bullet would find its mark? Who held him fast so the shot wasn’t wasted?

Hrant wasn’t killed by a lone 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who made him a target and held him in place.

Nor was he killed by a single bullet. It was the targeting, month by month, that murdered him.

“I’m afraid,” he said on January 5. “I’m very afraid, Taner. The attacks on me and on Agos are very systematic. They called me to the Governor’s office, where they started making threats. They said, ‘We’ll make you pay for everything you’ve been doing.’ All the attacks began after I was threatened.”

“2007 is going to be a bad year, Taner,” he continued. “They’re not going to ease off. We’ve been made into a horrible target. Between the press, the politicians, and the lawyers, they’ve created this atmosphere that’s so poisonous, they’ve made us such an obscenity, that we’ve become sitting ducks.

“They’ve opened up hunting season, Taner, and they’ve got us right where they want us.”

Hrant wasn’t killed by a 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who portrayed him as an enemy of Turkey, every single day in the press, to that 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who dragged him to the doors of the courthouse under Article 301. He was murdered by those who aimed Article 301 during their open season on intellectuals, and by those who didn’t have the courage to change Article 301. Hrant was murdered by those who called him to the Governor’s office and then threatened him instead of protecting him.

There’s no point in shedding crocodile tears. Let us bow our heads and look at our hands. Let us ponder how we will clean off the blood. You organs of the press who have expressed shock over Hrant’s death, go read your back issues, look at what you wrote about Hrant. You will see the murderer there. You who used 301 as a weapon to hunt intellectuals, see what you wrote about 301, look at the court decisions. You will see the murderer there.

Dear government officials, spare us your crocodile tears. Tell us what you plan to do to the Lieutenant Governor who called Hrant into his office and, together with an official from the National Intelligence Bureau, proceeded to threaten him. What do you intend to do to them?

Hrant was portrayed as “the Armenian who insulted Turkishness.” For this he was murdered. He was murdered because he said, “Turkey must confront its history.” The hands that pulled the trigger – or caused it to be pulled – in 2007 are the same hands that shot all the Hrants in 1915, the same hands that left all those Armenians to choke in the desert.

Hrant’s killers are sending us a message. They’re saying “Yes! We were behind 1915 and we’ll do it again in 2007!” Hrant’s murderers believe they killed in the name of Turkishness, just like those who killed all the Hrants in 1915.

For them, Turkishness is about committing murder. It means setting someone up as the enemy and then targeting that person for destruction.

Quite the contrary, the murderers are a black stain upon the brow of Turkishness. It is they who have demeaned Turkish identity.

For this reason, we have stood up and we have decided to take Turkishness out of the assassins’ hands and we have shouted out, “We are all Hrant! We are all Armenian!” We are the resounding cry of Turkishness and Turkey. All of us – Turks, Kurds, Alevites, secularists, and Muslims alike – shout out on behalf of everyone who wants to take Turkishness away from these murderers.

Turkishness is a beautiful thing that should be respected instead of left in the hands of murderers; so is Armenianness.

We can feel proud to be Turkish only if we can acknowledge the murderer for who he is. That is what we are doing today. By declaring, “We are all Armenians,” we know that we honor Turkishness; by identifying the true murderer, we create a Turkishness worth claiming.

Today we declare to the world that murder has nothing to do with Turkishness or Turkey. We are not going to leave Turkishness in the hands of murderers. We will not allow Turkishness to be stained by hate crimes towards Armenians. Either Turkishness belongs to the murderers, or it belongs to us.

Turks cry out that the person who killed Hrant is a murderer. In the wake of his death, Turkishness affirms that we are all Armenians.

This, I say, is what we also need to do for 1915.

If we can affirm that a real Turk is someone who can distance Turkishness from the murder of Hrant Dink, then we ought to be able to do the same thing for the events around 1915. Those who gather in a protective circle around Hrant’s murderer are the same people who protected the murderers of 1915. Those who honored Talaat, Bahaettin Sakir and Dr. Nazim yesterday are doing the same for Hrant’s murderer today.

If we can come out and declare Hrant’s murder a “shameful act,” then we should be able to state the same, as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk did, about the acts that occurred in 1915. Today, hundreds of thousands of us condemn this murder by declaring “We are all Armenian.” In 1915, Turks, Kurds, Moslems and Alevites did the same. We have to choose, not only for today but for yesterday as well.

Whose side are we on? Which “Turkishness” are we defending, the one that defends the murderers or the one that condemns the murderous acts? Do we stand with Kemal, the Mayor of Boğazlıyan, who annihilated Armenians in 1915, or with Abdullahzade Mehmet Efendi, the Mufti of Boğazlıyan, who bore witness against that mayor at the trial that lead to his execution, stating, “I fear the wrath of God”?

Are we going to represent the “Turkishness” that defended the crimes of Talat, Enver, Bahaettin Şakir, Doctor Nâzım, and Governor Resit of Diyarbakır? Or will we oppose them in the name of a Turkishness that condemns such horror?

We need to know that in 1915 we had Mazhar, the governor of Ankara; Celal, the governor of Aleppo; Reşit, the governor of Kastamonu; Cemal, the lieutenant governor of Yozgat; Ali Faik, the mayor of Kütahya; and Ali Fuat, the mayor of Der-Zor. And we had soldiers and army commanders in 1915, men we can embrace with respect, for opposing what happened: Vehip Pasha, Commander of the Third Army; Avni Pasha, Commander of the Trabzon garrison; Colonel Vasfi; and Salim, Major Commandant of the Yozgat post.

Trabzon has its share of murderers like Ogün Samast in 2007 and Governor Cemal Azmi and Unionist “Yenibahçeli” Nail in 1915. But those who opposed the crimes of 1915 and didn’t hesitate to identify the murderers in court included many citizens of Trabzon: Nuri, Chief of Police; businessman, Ahmet Ali Bey; Customs Inspector Nesim Bey, and parliamentarian Hafiz Mehmet Emin Bey, who testified, “I saw with my own eyes that the Armenians were loaded onto boats and taken out and drowned, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

These are just a few of the dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people who opposed the horrible acts committed.

We, Turks and Turkey, have a choice to make. We will affirm either the Turkishness of murderers past and present, or the Turkishness of those who cry out today, “We are all Armenian!” and who yesterday declared, “We will not let our hands be stained with blood.”

The whole world looks upon us with respect because they see us draw a line between Turkishness and barbarism. Today we are building a wall between murderers and Turkishness; we are Turks who know how to point the finger at a murderer.

We must show the same courage in regard to the events of 1915. Hrant wanted us to. When he said, “I love Turks and Turkey, and I consider it a privilege to be living amongst Turks,” that’s what he was asking for. We need to acknowledge the murderers of the Hrants of 1915, and we need to draw a line between them and Turkishness. If we are going to own up to this murder in 2007 then we need to do the same for those of 1915.

That’s what confronting one’s history is about. Today, by saying to Hrant’s murderer, “You don’t represent me as a Turk: you are simply a murderer,” we have begun the process of confronting and acknowledging our history. We must do the same with the murderers of 1915 by drawing a line between their acts and our Turkishness. We must condemn these murderers as having smeared our brows with the dark stain of their crimes. Then, and only then, can we Turks go about the world with our heads held high.

I cry out in the name of Turkishness. I cry out as a Turk, as a friend who lost Hrant, my beloved Armenian brother. Let’s take back Turkishness from the murderous hands of those who wish to smear us with their dark deeds. Let’s shout in one voice, “WE ARE ALL HRANT! WE ARE ALL ARMENIANS!”

Radikal (Turkey)
January 24, 2007

Sean said...

Killing sparks 'Turkishness' row
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

Since Hrant Dink was shot, Murat Belge has not left home alone.

There are armed police on 24-hour watch outside his house and a plain-clothes detective by his side at all times.

Like Hrant Dink, Murat Belge was put on trial last year for insulting Turkishness. Now he has been given protection by the state.

"Everyone is in danger. This is getting very savage," the journalist and academic believes. "All around there are similar groups aching to murder someone for their country. It is shocking."

Read the rest of the article:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6343809.stm

Sean said...

Turkish novelist flees to US 'in fear for life'
By Damien McElroy
Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:27am GMT 14/02/2007


The Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk is living in exile in the United States and is believed to be in fear for his life.

Amid a climate of intimidation that has seen the prosecution and even murder of dissident intellectuals throwing into doubt Turkey's aspiration to the join the European Union, Mr Pamuk, 54, who is living in New York, is said to have told friends he has set no deadline for his return. Instead, according to the prominent Istanbul columnist Fatih Altayli, the writer has quietly gone into exile.


Orhan Pamuk: will not return soon


"What I was told was more than mere rumour," said Mr Altayli. "Pamuk recently withdrew $400,000 from his bank account and said he would leave Turkey and would not be returning to his country any time soon."

Following the murder of an ethnic Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, last month, Mr Pamuk expressed fears for his own safety. The writer enraged Turkish nationalists by acknowledging that under the Ottoman empire Turks had triggered the genocide of one million Armenians nearly a century ago.

Such is the sensitivity of Mr Pamuk's position, his agent and others close to the novelist have declined invitations to comment publicly on Mr Altayli's allegation.

During the 1990s Mr Pamuk, whose novels includes Cevdet Bey and His Sons and The Black Book, began to write candidly about human rights issues and free speech in Turkey. The country's authorities vociferously campaign against any suggestion that the state has inherited responsibility for the unacknowledged massacre of Armenians.

In an interview with a Swiss newspaper last year, Mr Pamuk said: "One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands but no one but me dares talk about it."

Two weeks ago, Mr Pamuk abruptly cancelled a speaking tour of Germany, fearing that his engagements would expose him to hostile elements within the diaspora. Yasin Hayal, a nationalist charged with incitement to murder Mr Dink, made what appeared to be a threat against Mr Pamuk.

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He said: "Orhan Pamuk be careful."

With its candidacy to join the EU already troubled by suspicion of its Islamic government and the treatment of its Kurdish minority, Turkey would be dealt a further blow if its most prominent writer decided he was no longer safe in his homeland.

The damage would be compounded because Mr Pamuk is the foremost chronicler of Istanbul as the meeting point of Europe and Asia.

In meetings with Western leaders, Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, has moved to address concerns that the law granted a veneer of legitimacy to the shadowy figures who were threatening its liberal intellectuals.

He has promised reforms of an ambiguous law that allows nationalists to demand punishment for those they accuse of insulting the Turkish nation.

Mr Gul admitted that Turkey's standing had been damaged by Mr Dink's murder and the threat to Mr Pamuk.

"People outside Turkey think you can be thrown into jail for opening your mouth," he said.

"They think there are hundreds of journalists and intellectuals in jail. This is all false."

But he warned that outside pressure for greater tolerance of dissenting views was counter-productive, strengthening support for nationalist politicians in the run-up to a general election later this year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/14/wturk14.xml

istanbulexpat said...

First of all, I would just like to thank Murat for this site, and the content he provides. We need to be talking about these issues and not hiding from them or quashing others. I meant no offense in previous comments. I simply believe that what some people say, "incites hatred and violence", actually in free-thinking societies is considered constructive debate.

The comment by the ATO president about "mindless" statements is just as vague as the word "insulting" in 301. And his warning is laughable: citizens will be reacting to these statements. Reacting? Oh my goodness! This is tragic. Isn't what free people do? In any intelligent debate, it takes two to tango, don't forget this.

The comparison of 301 before and the Patriot Act is laughable as well. The Patriot Act TOOK AWAY rights that citizens HAD, while 301 takes away the right that people in Turkey NEVER had. Thus, the conditioning continues...

Anonim said...

istanbulexpat: One joke I like goes as...

One school had an old biology teacher whose proven habit it was to ask the students to write an essay on crows in their final exam. This had been the case year after year for decades. So, the wise students would know all things about crows before they sat down to write the final exam. One year, students were utterly shocked when they found the question: "Write an essay describing sparrows." Most of them turned in empty papers, and left the classroom in disbelief. The smarter among them stayed and worked the whole hour; their answers went: "A sparrow is a bird just like a crow is, and crows are..."

It indeed takes two to tango. Sigh...

Murat Altinbasak said...

Sean, please don't use my comments as you own personal blog.. Say what you want, post a link and be done with it.. Please.

Expat, Thanks for being a visitor and commentor here. :)
I see nothing wrong with comparing the Patriot Act with Article 301. At the root of the matter, they are basically the same. Muslims and Arabs in the US must have eyes behind their heads, watch what they say and write, be careful of which websites they visit, which mosques they worship at, who they keep for friends.. because the Patriot Act has given the government unfettered use of a variety of methods and means to implicate people as enemies of the state, terrorists, or combatants.. The consequences of earning any such distinction means you go to jail with out being charged, secretly, without any access to counsel or legal means to defend yourself. Makes Article 301 seem like a slap on the hand, if you ask me. Dismissing my comparison is what I find laughable. If you could see past the tip of your own nose you will agree that there is more than meets the eye here. This is about FREEDOM, no matter how much they differ. How do you take away rights which don't exist? No comprende.. To use a tired old saying overheard in the US, spoken by patriotic Americans: "Love it or leave it". Of course this is only P.C. when Americans say it. Heaven forbid if there are Turkish citizens who love their country more than they love those who are engorged with the thought of weakening and destroying it..

Andy, as I've said before, the problem with Article 301 is it's name. "Turkishness" is a ridiculous word. The purpose of 301 has less to do with insult and more to do with security, especially for those who seem foolishly intent upon using poor judgment and attracting the attention of homicidal sickos. I defend Article 301, not for what it is (it's a joke- this has been established and agreed) but for what it does. It is protecting Turkish citizens from themselves. This isn't New Hampshire we're talking about, and besides, no American would willingly give their life to take a controversial position. "Live free, or die"..
How about "Shut up, and live"?
When the violent homicidal ultra-nationalists and racists are reigned in or eliminated, then let's do the obvious correct thing: let's abolish or amend Article 301. Until then, violating it seems like waving a sparkler in a powder keg- stupid and deadly.

I'm not pleased with being identified as a defender of Article 301... but I make no apologies for it either. ANYONE can see that it's bad for Turkey, (gee, what a difficult position to take) and that it must change or be abolished. I guess I'm in the habit of deliberately looking at things from an angle which differs from the popular perspective. If my life were threatened by such thinking, then I'd get the hell out of dodge, as Mr Orhan Pamuk demonstrated recently. Either that or I'd shut my mouth and stay put.
You know, people are eating cat food to survive in this country, people are selling or prostituting their children to survive, all over the world. People are dying of diseases which are prevented with an injection that costs only 50 cents.. All this horse shit about Article 301, and how it limits free speech.. makes me want to vomit. "Tavuk kicini gorup yara zannetmis.".. aptly sums up all this nonsense, this pissing and moaning about how Turks aren't allowed to defecate on their own country. They will no doubt be allowed to do so before too long, and everyone will be exposed completely... and then we can begin the body count.. "Live free or die" will take on a whole new meaning. Mark my words. Remember 1955? Imagine that times 1000.
It would be wise to weigh the consequences, I think.

Gulay said...

Murat,

Andy here again. In essence you are right and your argument is logical to a certain degree, especially in regard to what you believe is the immature state of the body politic in Turkey. Of course if 301 is repealed or loosened then there will be the inevitable outpouring both from the secular and religious sides pointing out everything that is not to their personal satisfaction and uncriticizing everything in their gunsights (literally). In America you can burn the flag, in the UK you would have to look hard to find one to burn but I am sure you could and not be arrested. Both of these societies though are essentially confident in their institutions and identities to indulge in "free" speech no matter it is painful, witness the recent debates about slavery and the slave trade. Its going to be a long time before Turkey and other similar countries can be as honest and open.

Actually I dont believe you are defending 301 rather you are justifying it, which is a difference. I can justify it even I dont agree or like it. And by the way whilst its definitely worse for Arabs and Muslims even us Brits get hit by the Patriot Act, believe me.