|VICTORY FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CHOMSKY CENSORSHIP CASE|
The Istanbul-based publisher of an anthology of Noam Chomsky's essays, Mr Fatih Tas, was today acquitted of allegations of publishing 'propaganda against the indivisible unity of country, nation and the State Republic of Turkey'. The proprietor and editor of the Aram Publishing Company faced a possible one-year prison sentence under Article 8 of Turkey's Anti-Terrorism Law in respect of the book, American Interventionism published in September 2001.
The renowned academic and political theorist said he was "appalled" by the indictment and described it as, "a very severe attack on the most elementary human and civil rights." He flew to Istanbul yesterday to attend the trial in person. Trial observers from the Kurdish Human Rights Project also attended the trial, which took place in Istanbul State Security Court today.
The indictment referred to the editor's preface to the book and to the following two passages from Professor Chomsky's essay Prospects for Peace in the Middle East which was taken from a lecture given at the University of Toledo in March 2001:
"Third is Turkey and the Kurds. That's one of the most severe human rights atrocities of the 1990s, continuing in fact. And there are plenty of other issues…
"Turkey and the Kurds. The Kurds have been miserably oppressed throughout the whole history of the modern Turkish state but things changed in 1984. In 1984, the Turkish government launched a major war in the Southeast against the Kurdish population. And that continued. In fact it's still continuing. (…) This had nothing to do with Cold war, transparently. It was because of the counterinsurgency war. (…) The end result was pretty awesome: tens of thousands of people killed, two to three million refugees, massive ethnic cleansing with some 3500 villagers destroyed."
The indictment had attracted the attention of journalists and human rights organisations internationally. On 18 January 2002, three weeks before the acquittal, KHRP alerted the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression about the threats to freedom of expression posed by the indictment.
Commenting on the case, KHRP's Executive Director Kerim Yildiz noted, "While a tangible victory was served today, the Turkish authorities hope that this high profile acquittal will divert attention away from the daily violations of freedom of expression which have become commonplace. In addition to the ongoing repression of journalists and publishers, education in the Kurdish language remains banned in Turkey. This month, 59 members of pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) have been arrested for backing a campaign to introduce Kurdish language education. Turkey continues to have the worst record for violating free expression at the European Court of Human Rights."
NOTES FOR EDITORS:1. The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.