Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Turkey moves to change speech law

6 November 2007
BBC News

The Turkish government says it will change a controversial law restricting freedom of expression.

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said a new bill would be put before the Turkish parliament in the coming days.

The law, known as Article 301, bans perceived insults to Turkish identity or the country's institutions.

It has often been invoked by nationalists against those who argue the Ottoman empire committed genocide against Armenians.

Earlier on Tuesday the European Commission said restrictions on freedom of expression were blocking Turkey's progress towards EU membership.

"It is not acceptable that writers, journalists, academics and other intellectuals... are prosecuted for simply expressing a critical but completely non-violent opinion," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

"The infamous Article 301 must be repealed or amended without delay," he added.

Nobel-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk and Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink were both prosecuted under the law for their comments on the mass killings of Armenians.

Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his Istanbul office in January 2007 and his murder revived a debate about the law.

Many said his prosecution under Article 301 made him a target for radical nationalists.

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.



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