Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Call to Support Agos Newspaper

The trial of Arat Dink and Sarkis Seropyan under Article 301 continues on 11 October

Amazingly, even after his murder, Hrant Dink (via his son) and Agos newspaper are still being 'tried' in Turkey under the now infamous article 301. Precisely the same article  they were accused of campaigning against. An article which is now a world-wide symbol of state-level oppression of freedom of expression. I do not expect any real charges as a result of these proceedings. It would be too much for survival of Turkey's 'European aspirations' image, which is being badly damaged by the only fact of this trial.

Via Turkish press freedom network Bianet:

The Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism Initiative (DurDe) [Turkey based] has called on people to support the Agos newspaper on 11 October, when its editor Arat Dink (the son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink) and licence holder Sarkis Seropyan attend a hearing at their continuing trial at a penal court in Sisli, central Istanbul.

The trial concerns news items on Hrant Dink's recognition of an "Armenian genocide"  and a campaign opposing Article 301, precisely the Article they are being tried under.

[inverted commas, as in original - I suppose, they were afraid of being tried under the same 'offence', if put Armenian Genocide without that punctuation business. On the other hand, it is no longer unusual to see in Turkish press non-comma references to the Genocide. Still, inverted commas in relation to Armenian Genocide are BBC website's official policy, although over the last week or so I noticed (formal or informal) loosening of that policy.]

Condemnation of Article 301 and Hrant Dink murder trial

In a press statement, DurDe stated that Article 301 needed to be abolished, the murder of Hrant Dink needed to be solved, and racists needed to be brought to justice. The second hearing in the Hrant Dink murder case, which took place on 1 October, was called "shameful".
"The court has not given permission to investigate the police officer who took part in the planning of a murder and whose telephone conversation has been listened to by the whole of Turkey. A police officer who said about Hrant, 'If he's snuffed it, he's snuffed it' is now working next to the former Trabzon Chief of Police. Both have been protected and rewarded."

[A similar statement was issued earlier by Reporters Without Borders. What is important here is that the call is coming from within Turkey's civil society.]

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