Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Turkish historian cleared of charges for declaring 'genocide'

02 April 2007
The New Anatolian with wires / Ankara

An Istanbul court decided late in January not to pursue charges against a Turkish historian for declaring a "genocide" of Armenians had been committed during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, daily Radikal revealed over the weekend.

In an article in Agos, a Turkish-Armenian weekly, historian Taner Akcam had written, "The 1915-1917 deportations and massacres of Armenians constituted a genocide."

The complaint against Akcam was filed by Recep Akkus at the prosecutor's office of Istanbul's Eyup district. The charges against Akcam were under controversial Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301 for insulting Turkishness, as well as various other articles for instigating a crime, praising a crime and criminals, and instigating public animosity and hatred.

The prosecutor's office said that such writing about an alleged genocide is covered by freedom of speech and thus it is not "insulting Turkishness." The Jan. 30 decision came just 12 days the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Agos' editor in chief. Dink, too, had been facing charges for insulting Turkishness when he was murdered.

Radikal noted that the prosecutor of Istanbul's Sisli district filed a case against Dink after remarks in which he said, "Of course I say this is a genocide."

In another article titled "Hrant Dink, 301 and a criminal complaint," Akcam wrote, "I believe the 1915-1917 deportations and massacres of Armenians constituted a genocide. I reiterate this at every opportunity. I have written books, articles and even columns on this issue. If describing this as genocide is a crime, I commit this crime nearly every week."

Akcam's lawyer Erdal Dogan also underlined that the decision is late but important within the framework of freedom of speech.

Speaking to bianet, Dogan said "I wish our prosecutors had made similar decisions before Dink was murdered. It's sad that justice was remembered after the assassination of Dink."

Article 301 is a controversial article of the penal code which took taking effect in June 2005, introduced as part of a package of penal law reform in the process preceding the opening of negotiations for Turkey's European Union membership, in order to bring Turkey up to EU standards. It makes it a crime to insult "Turkishness." Since this article became law, charges have been brought in more than 60 cases, some of which are high profile.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home