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Monday, 15 September 2008
Article 301 still oppresses in Turkey despite the law’s supposed reform and Gül’s visit to Armenia

According to the independent Turkish press, AKP Minister of Justice, Mr. Mehmet Ali Şahin, has authorized the prosecution of Turkish intellectual dissident Temel Demirer under Article 301.

During a tribute dedicated to Hrant Dink, Temel Demirer stated: “We live in a country where not shouting the truth makes us complicit in the murder. Hrant was killed not only because he was an Armenian, but because he voiced the truth about the Genocide in this country. If Turkish intellectuals do not commit the crime outlined in Article 301 301 times, then they will be accomplices to this murder. There is genocide in our history. It’s called the Armenian Genocide. […]. Those who massacred Armenians yesterday are attacking our Kurdish brothers today. Those who desire the brotherhood of peoples must reconcile with this history. […]. I ask everyone to commit this crime. Yes, there was Armenian Genocide in this country.”

Demirer had been prosecuted under Article 301 because of this statement. However, in the spring, the Turkish Assembly achieved a semblance of reform which replaced the crime of insulting “Turkishness” with insulting the Turkish nation and which required that the filing of cases by authorized by the Ministry of Justice. Unlike Human Rights organizations, the European Commission and Parliaments hailed this so-called reform.

The European Armenian Federation recounts the comments of Mr. Demirer’s lawyer: “We were expecting this decision. With this decision, they have just proven that their promises regarding the European Union, democracy, structural reforms and human rights are all fairytales. On the one hand, they go to Armenia to watch a football match, on the other hand they are filing cases under Article 301.”

“This is yet another indication that Article 301 is not compatible with a democratic society and that it must be thoroughly repealed. Turkey must take steps now toward full and comprehensive recognition of the Genocide; otherwise, it will be clear that Gül’s show in Armenia was just a PR ploy with no foundation” said Laurent Leylekian, the executive director of the European Armenian Federation.

The European Armenian Federation emphasizes that there is a current reality in Turkey that is far different from the illusions propagated by Ankara’s PR strategy. The Federation calls upon the European Commission, Council and Parliament to act according to this reality.

Addendum: since the initial release of this PR in French (11 Sept.), the Turkish Ministry of Justice allowed prosecuting another intellectual, columnist Ahmet Altan, for the very same reason, i.e. for having affirmed the Armenian Genocide.


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