|Arat Dink, son of Hrant Dink, Sentenced Under Article 301|
Kurdish Human Rights Project has received news of the sentencing of Arat Dink, editor of the Istanbul-based Armenian-Turkish Agos newspaper and son of the paper’s assassinated former editor Hrant Dink. Serkis Seropyan, the paper’s owner was also sentenced. Each was handed a one-year suspended sentence yesterday for ‘denigrating Turkishness’ through the publication of the words of Hrant Dink.
The sentencing was carried out under the controversial Article 301 of the new Turkish Penal code, which has been used numerous times in the past two years to stifle the free expression and opinion of some of Turkey’s most eminent writers, journalists and academics. The article has particularly been used to punish intellectuals who have expressed views on Turkish history and identity which differ from government or nationalist accounts. It has also led to the targeting of academics, writers and journalists by extremist nationalist groups. Hrant Dink was sentenced under Article 301 in 2005 and was being investigated along with his son and colleague in this case until his murder last January. There is no doubt that his conviction for ‘denigrating Turkishness’ was one of reasons behind his assassination.*
In reaction to news of the sentencing KHRP’s Executive Director Kerim Yildiz today stated: ‘The freedom to question accepted values, ideas and beliefs, or indeed to express beliefs divergent from the norm, is one of the cornerstones of democratic society. Article 301 and the concept of ‘insulting Turkishness’ are ill-thought-out and vague both in wording and application. The article is wide open to abuse by those who would seek to maliciously prosecute intellectuals, publishers and journalists. It is a gross violation of freedom of expression, unacceptable in a democratic society. Kurdish Human Rights Project condemns the prosecution and sentencing of Mr Dink and Mr Seropyan and calls for their immediate exoneration. KHRP further calls for the repeal of this enormous obstacle to true democracy in Turkey”.
* KHRP, in conjunction with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Index on Censorship and Article 19 carried out an observation of the trial of Hrant Dink’s alleged assassins in July. The resulting report, Freedom of the Media in Turkey and the Killing of Hrant Dink is now available to download or purchase from this site. Please see also our 2006 publication on Article 301, Turkey on Trial: The Prosecutions of Orhan Pamuk and Other Writers, also available on this site.
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