2178) Third Quarterly Turkish Media Monitoring Report: Full Text

The third quarterly report of the Bia Media Monitoring Desk has appeared, detailing violations of press freedom and the freedom of expression in the months of July, August and September 2007. .125 people, most of them journalists, and six media institutions have been tried for expressing their thoughts freely.

This report lists the violations of the freedom of expression under seven headings:
. .
Murder, attacks and threats
Detentions and arrests
Trials and investigations
Corrections and seeking legal redress
European Court of Human Rights
Reactions to censorship
RTÜK [Radio and Television Supreme Council] practices

Murder, Attacks and Threats

Two security officers who were involved in the taking of photos of O.S., the murder suspect of Agos editor Hrant Dink, together with gendarmerie and police in the tea room of the Samsun Department for Terrorism, are now on trial. At the first hearing at the fourth penal court in Samsun on 28 September, the defendants Metin Balta, the acting director of the Terrorism Department, and Ibrahim Firat, police officer at the department, did not attend. The hearing has been postponed until 2 November in order to take their statements and evaluate demands. Bahri Bayram Belen, a lawyer for the Dink family, has demanded that the court file of Balta and Firat be added to the murder case which is being heard at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal court. Belen also requested that Hrant Dink’s wife, daughter, son and brother be allowed to join the trial as third-party plaintiffs.

When nationalist singer Ismail Türüt and lyrics writer Arif Sirin (also known as “Bard Arif”) gave statements about the song “Plan, don’t make a plan” and the clip which was broadcast on You Tube using that song, Radikal reporter Serkan Ocak asked Türüt: “Are those with you your body guards?” One of the men pointed his finger at Ocak and said, “Be careful”. Türüt called his entourage “my friends, my fans.” In the Objektif programme on Fox TV, broadcast on 20 September, Sirin continued to threaten journalist Ali Bayramoglu of the Yeni Safak newspaper, who had first written about the song and the video clip. He said: “I was surprised at Ali Bayramoglu’s approach in this matter. What is such a writer doing in such a climate? This community needs to examine this writer carefully.” Bayramoglu had previously been threatened after publishing an article entitled “Our Life is in Danger” on 4 July, in which he pointed out the importance of solving the Hrant Dink murder. He received an email message saying, “If you continue to write like that, you will end like Hrant Dink”. The matter has been taken to the prosecution.

Lawyers of the Dink family have appealed against the decision of the Trabzon Governor’s Office not to allow the investigation of Ramazan Akyürek, the head of the Intelligence Unit at the Police Department, Resat Altay, former police chief in Trabzon, and police officers Engin Dinc, Faruk Sari, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit and Mehmet Ayhan. The governor’s office is basing its refusal on a report by investigators of the Ministry of the Interior who had prepared a report.

Kasim Ciftci, the owner of the “Hakkari Province Voice” newspaper died on the evening of 22 September after being shot by one or more unknown persons. The murder was condemned by the Van Lake Journalists’ Society, the former Hakkari mayor and Abdurrahman Keskin, owner of Hakkari’s “The People’s Voice” newspaper. It is not clear yet whether he died because of activities relating to press freedom or the freedom of expression.

“Radikal” journalist Türker Alkan wrote that he used to receive threats before 28 February 1997, a date commonly remembered as a “postmodern coup” in Turkey. He said that threats by email had resumed since the general elections of 22 July. Writing on 6 September, Alkan said: “After 22 July, angry and threatening communications have again shown themselves. In a recently received communication, someone claiming to be a police officer said that I was a ‘traitor’ and that s/he would ‘shoot into my head twice.’” Alkan added, “Who knows, was that person really a police officer? But even if s/he was not, what do you think it means that someone with such a mentality has appropriated the role of police officer?”

Prime Minister Erdogan criticised “Hürriyet” columnist Bekir Coskun heavily for writing about Abdullah Gül, “He Will Not Be My President”. In the Arena programme of Kanal D, which Erdogan attended on 20 August, he responded to the column by saying: “Unfortunately there are those who do not know propriety. Those who say such things should first give up their citizenship of the Turkish Republic.” In his editorial comment, Oktay Eksi of the “Hürriyet” newspaper then replied: “The honourable Prime Minster has to be asked by someone: ‘Are you kicking Bekir Coskun off your father’s farm?” Orhan Erinc, president of the Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC) evaluated the PM’s comments as “unfortunate and misplaced”. Prime Ministerial spokesperson Akif Beki replied that the Prime Minister had not criticised Coskun, but the attempts at making the issue [of the presidential elections] personal.

Reporter Ahmet Ün of the local “Kulp News” newspaper in Diyarbakir filed a criminal complaint in August, saying that he has been receiving death threats and insults from mayor Mahmut Zengin after criticising him for not solving a water problem which was causing illnesses.

The “Tunceli Emek” (Labour) newspaper, which had reported that a petrol tanker belonging to the state-run village services had emptied its petrol into the petrol station of former mayor Hasan Korkmaz, was subsequently visited by a man called Hasan Cakici on 3 August. He threatened newspaper employees. It has been said that after he was removed from the office with the help of others, Hasan Korkmaz’s brother came to the office and hurled threats.

Aris Nalci, the news editor of the weekly Turkish-Armenian “Agos” newspaper has said that although there has been a decrease in email threats, they do continue. High school student R.D. was arrested on 2 August for sending the newspaper a threatening email one day after editor-in-chief Hrant Dink’s murder. In his first statement R.D. said, “I sent that message in a moment of ignorance.” He was then sent to Bayrampasa prison in Istanbul.

Sinan Tekpetek, journalist and editor for the “Özgür Hayat” (Free Life) newspaper and the “yüzde 52 Öfke” (52 percent Anger) magazine, has stated that he was forcibly taken away by a police car in Taksim (central Istanbul) on the evening of 26 July, brought to a desolate place, continuously exposed to insults, death threats and violence, and then thrown out of the police car near Karaköy. The international Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reacted to the incident by saying: “It is not clear yet whether the journalist was exposed to violence because of his professional activities as a journalist or because of a court case related to his objection to police violence.” In a press statement which he read at the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Tekpetek said that he did not know the reason for the attack, but that it may either be the activities of the magazine or a court case opened against him after he had witnessed police violence in 2005. Tekpetek gave a statement to prosecutor Enver Dikilitas on 31 July.

The daily “Bölge” (Region) newspaper in Adana was attacked by a group for writing that those who “made efforts to ensure that no one voted for the CHP (Republican People’s Party) thus did not have the right to criticise the CHP”. Around 20 people came to the newspaper office to speak to editor-in-chief Nevzat Ucak. They reacted to an article published on 29 July, which said that “the gathering in front of the head office was a fiasco” and to an article criticising them as “The Children of Soros” on 30 July. The CHP opponents insulted newspaper employees and when they reacted, the intruders harrassed them further. Ucak said, “We wrote that those who had said ‘Do not vote for the CHP’ and who had hung up posters, put adverts in newspapers and had generally worked towards that goal, did not have the right to call for CHP chair Baykal’s resignation; they stormed our office.” The Cukurova Journalists’ Society condemned the attack with a statement.

On 13 July, the Professional News Camerapersons’ Association condemned the physical attack by AKP supporters on the news group of the Kanaltürk channel when filming an election campaign with 500 cycling children in Ankara. Cameras were broken and film cassettes confiscated. Reporter Duygu Kayacik and cameraman Müjdat Genc were targeted, too. In its statement, the association said: “We demand that those responsible for the attack on democracy and free publishing during the election campaign, one of the greatest gains of democracy, be brought to trial.”

On 13 July, lawyers of the Dink family appealed against the decision of the Samsun Public Prosecution to dismiss proceedings against police and gendarmerie officers who formed close relationships with Hrant Dink’s murder suspect O.S. after his arrest.

In the Hrant Dink murder trial, joint attorneys appealed against the decision of the court to release four of the eighteen detained suspects, Salih Hacisalihoglu, Osman Alpay, Irfan Özkan and Veysel Toprak, from detention at the first hearing of the case on 2 July. In the appeal to the 9th Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul, it said: “Basic and critical issues which are needed to shed light on this case are to be found in the actions of the released suspects.”

The international Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reacted to a report by the Police Department, which said that the murder of journalist Hrant Dink was organised by “a group based on friendship”. RSF said, “This report is attempting to clear the security forces. The question that really needs to be answered is why the warnings of Erhan Tuncel were ignored. The police said that ties with Tuncel were cut in November 2006, but he said at the hearing, ‘I told the police that an attack against Hrant Dink would be organised.’”

In a press briefing on 3 July, one day after the first hearing in the Hrant Dink murder trial, lawyer Fethiye Cetin called for the trial of all the gendarmerie and police officers whose relations with the murder suspects have emerged, and who did not prevent the murder despite knowing about it. Cetin cited Article 83 of the Penal Code, which deals with “related crimes”, and demanded that these officers be tried as part of the murder case.

At the first hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court, the release of detained defendants Salih Hacisalihoglu, Osman Altay, Irfan Özkan and Veysel Toprak was decided. Defendant O.S., tried for being the suspected gunman, used his right to silence. Erhan Tuncel, tried for incitement to murder, said: “I served the state. I do not know why I am here.” Defendant Yasin Hayal said: “Tuncel deceived us. He planned the murder. It was him who built the bomb that was thrown at Mc Donald’s [in an earlier incident in Trabzon].” The first hearing lasted all day. All eighteen defendants were questioned and the demands of the defense and the joint attorneys were listened to. Requests of both sides to widen the investigation were accepted. The court case was to continue on 1 October.

Detentions and Arrests

Idris Akboga, the editor of the “Özgür Halk” (Free People) magazine, was arrested when he went to the Istanbul 11th Heavy Penal Court on 26 September in order to give a statement on the September issue of the magazine. He was sent to Bayrampasa prison in Istanbul. The court has accused Akboga of “praising crimes and criminals”, of “printing and publishing texts of a terrorist organisation”, of “committing a crime by helping members of a terrorist organisation or spreading propaganda."

Füsun Erdogan, the general broadcast coordinator of “Özgür Radyo” (Free Radio), who had been arrested together with 22 other people in an operation targeting members of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) on 12 September 2006, is to appear at the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court on 26 October for the first time. Others accused of relations with the organisation are Atilim newspaper editor Ibrahim Cicek, who is being held in an F-type prison in Tekirdag, and Atilim publishing coordinator Sedat Senoglu, being held in an F-type prison in Edirne, former Atilim editor Ziya Ulusoy and Atilim journalist Bayram Namaz. In the 292-page indictment prepared by Public Prosecutor Ali Cengiz Haciosmanoglu, prison sentences ranging from 10.5 to 45 years are being demanded.

Durmus Sahin, a student of the Ankara Gazi University Education Faculty, was arrested on 11 July when he refused to shake hands with Minister for Health Recep Akdag. Sahin had said, “I do not shake hands with those in government who do not provide services to the citizens”. After five days detention, he was brought before the Olur Criminal Court of Peace. There Sahin said, “Although I did not want to shake hands, the minister persisted in wanting tos hake my hands. Because I did not give my hand, he sent me to prison.” Sahin was released from detention but will be tried. A prison sentence from six months to two years is being demanded.

Mehmet Cevizci, reporter for the Dicle News Agency, who was taking part in a news workshop organised by Press Now and the IPS Communications Foundation, was arrested by gendarmerie coming to his room at the Mavi Göl hotel at 5am. He was released at around 2pm after giving a statement. Cevizci said that he had been arrested at a protest against “criminal gangs and prostitution”, which ended in disturbances after a banner saying “Amed [the Kurdish name for Diyarbakir] is honour, protect your honour” was opened. Cevizci was being searched for since then.

Issues of the weekly “Coban Atesi” (Shepherd’s Fire) newspaper in Gaziantep were collected and confiscated after an article in the issue of 3 August 2007 said, “Antep is an industrial city in Northern Kurdistan.” A week later, Yasin Yetisgen, owner and editor of the newspaper, was arrested when he went to the Gaziantep 1st Peace Court of First Instance to give a statement regarding the notification of the confiscation. The newspaper’s publishing board said in a statement: “Our newspaper, which supports real freedom of expression, will continue its struggle against all kind of legal, administrative and political decisions and practices which mean an attack on the freedoms of thought and expression.” The board also protested against the “precautionary arrest” of Yetisgen. Yetisgen was released after three weeks in detention. There has been an arrest warrant issued for writer Hursit Kasikkirmaz of the same newspaper.

Four people who had been in detention for more than 10 months after the “Gaye” operation targeting the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) in 21 September 2006 were released on 7 August. One of them is Emin Orhan, the editor of the “Dayanisma” (Solidarity) newspaper. The case, in which 32 people, nine of them still in detention, are being tried for “membership in an organisation”, will continue on 6 December. The Istanbul 9th Heavy Penal Court decided to continue the detentions of Yusuf Demir, Yunus Aydemir, Erdal Demirhan, Ali Haydar Keles and Günes Senyüz.

Sait Bayram and Firat Avci, the news editor and reporter of Diyarbakir-based “Söz TV and Newspaper” were arrested after claiming that judge Mehmet Yücel Kurtoglu was transferred because he had been taking bribes. The two reporters were released a month later, on 20 July. They had been sent to Diyarbakir’s Closed Prison under the charge of “insulting through the press”. The relevant article had been published on 18 June 2007. The court case will continue on 31 October.

Sinan Kara, the owner of the “Datca News” newspaper was arrested when preparing a book about the city of Batman and its environs. He was arrested on 3 February under the charge of “insulting through the press”. He was released on 3 July, after spending more than four months in an M-type prison in Batman, and then 20 days in a prison in Mugla.

Trials and Investigations

The trial of Rojda Kizgin, reporter for the Dicle News Agency (DIHA), Ridvan Kizgin, former branch president of the Human Rights Assocation (IHD) and Dogan Adibelli will continue on 30 October. Adibelli had claimed that village guards were using government bombs to hunt fish, and this was reported by DIHA. The defendants are being tried under Article 301/2, for “degrading the state’s military and security forces”.

Emin Karaca, journalist for the “Yazin” magazine in Turkey and Europe, had criticised the army for the execution of student revolutionary leaders Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin Inan on the anniversary of their execution. The Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that Karaca be retried under Article 301/2, and the trial continues on 3 October. In September 2005 he was given a five-month prison sentence which was then converted into a 900 YTL fine. The sentence was then overruled for a technical reason (a missing signature) and wil now continue at the 2nd Penal Court in Istanbul.

The case which retired ambassador and MP for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) M. Sükrü Elekdag initiated against Publisher Muzaffer Erdogdu for the publication of a book entitled “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916: Documents Presented to Fallodon Viscount Grey by Viscount Bryce” continues at the Ankara 6th Civil Court of First Instance. Elekdag is demanding compensation of 20,000 YTL. The book, which was published in November 2005, has also caused the trial of translator Ahmet Güner and historian Taner Akcam. Akcam is further being tried for an article in the “Birikim” journal. The trial will continue on 8 November.

Abdurrahman Dilipak and Mehmet Özcan, journalist and editor of the “Akit” newspaper respectively, are still on trial at the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court (Istanbul) for an article entitled “My Country is Something Else” and published on 27 April 2001. The two defendants are on trial for “inciting the public to hatred and hostility”. The trial will continue on 20 November.

It has been decided to continue four trials against DTP Batman MP Aysel Tugluk for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. The cases were heard at the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court on 20 September. Tugluk did not attend, but her lawyer Özcan Kilic demanded that the court consider Tugluk’s immunity (due to her status as a parliamentarian). The court has cited Article 14 of the constitution which foresees that “basic rights and freedoms are not abused” and decided to continue. Up to five years imprisonment are being demanded.

Singer Ferhat Tunc has been on trial for around three years for an article entitled “A Revolutionary Leyla and a Song”, published in the “Yeniden Gündem” newspaper on 19 January 2004. He has been charged with “degrading and ridiculing the court”. In the article, he had criticised the detention and trial of Leyla Zana and the former DEP MPs. Up to three years imprisonment are being demanded. The trial is to continue on 13 December at the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court (Istanbul) and the newspaper’s responsible editor Mehmet Colak, who lives abroad, is also being tried.

In the trial against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, who have been accused of “degrading Turkishness and inciting hatred and hostility” and “illegally collecting data” with Protestant missionary activity, there has been a change of court. Following a complaint of lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz and others from the Great Lawyers’ Union about the judge, the case has been transferred to the Silivri 1st Penal Court. At the hearing on 26 September, the demand of Sevgi Erenol, press spokesperson of the Turkish Orthodox Church, to join the trial as a third party was denied. The case will be continued on 29 November. Prosecutor Demirhüyük, who was in charge of the case before, had said on 18 July, “The right to live and spread the religion one wants is protected by the constitution and our laws in terms of the freedom of religion and conscience.”

The case against the Belge Publications for translating and publishing Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan’s “An Armenian in Turkey” (The Memoirs of Garabet Haceryan) and George Jerjian’s “The Truth Will Set Us Free” will continue on 3 October. Because the court cannot reach Jerjian, publisher Ragip Zarakolu is on trial instead. For Sakayan’s book, both Zarakolu and translator Atilla Tuygan are on trial. Zarakolu faces up to 7.5 years imprisonment demanded for “degrading and ridiculing the State and the Republic” and “insulting the memory of Atatürk”. Tuygan faces six years imprisonment for “degrading and ridiculing the army”.

Prime Minister Erdogan lost his court case against “Cumhuriyet” writer Ilhan Selcuk, who had written an article entitled “There is No Language Particular to the Reactionary” published on 6 May 2007. Selcuk had written “The worst thing was how the reactionary gang who spoke in the name of the Supreme Allah, the Holy Prophet and the Holy Qu'ran became wild when they had come to power." Erdogan had demanded 20,000 YTL compensation, but judge Ahmet Metin Tözün at an Ankara court decreed that there was no criminal element in the words.

"The state made mistakes. When and where? Yesterday, in the East and South-East. then in Istanbul. In Maras and Sivas. Today in Trabzon, Istanbul, Mersin and in the South-East,” said journalist Haci Bogatekin, and had to face court again on 26 September. Because he criticised state policies in an article entitled "Turkey Has Made Mistakes", published in his newspaper on 10 March 2007, he is on trial for "degrading Turkishness, the Republic, state institutions or its organs" (Article 301). The case will continue on 6 November.

On 21 September, the Kocaeli 2nd Penal Court punished caricaturist Muhammet Sengöz to 11 months and 20 days imprisonment for a caricature entitled "Who's next, Mayor?" published in the "Free Kocaeli" newspaper. The sentence was converted into a 7,000 YTL fine. The prosecutor had called for an acquittal, but nevertheless, Sengöz was sentenced in the case brought by mayor Ibrahim Karaosmanoglu. Sengöz had reacted to billboards which Karaosmanoglu had put up around the city which praised his achievements. A constant theme on the billboards was a person asking, "What's next, Mayor?" In Sengöz's caricature, a man with his back to the reader and with his trousers down is asking, "Who's next, Mayor?"

Umut Karakoyun, owner of the local "Tunceli Emek" newspaper in Tunceli, eastern Anatolia, was being tried under Article 301 for accusing the judiciary of bias. Karakoyun has claimed that the Tunceli governor's office obstructed advertisements in an arbitrary manner and had written about the governor's press and PR manager Elif Polat. Karakoyun is also accused of "insulting a public officer through the media". On 21 September, the Tunceli Penal Court acquitted him on both accounts.

Sinan Kara, a journalist who has been imprisoned three times before, was acquitted in a trial under Article 301, concerning an article he wrote in which he joined EU Commission Turkey representative Hans Jörg Kretschmer's criticism of the army. The article was entitled "Barracks Party". At the hearing on 20 September, the Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court acquitted him. He is also on trial under Article 301/2 for an article entitled "Justice has become Militarism's Jester", published in the "Social Democracy" (Toplumsal Demokrasi) newspaper on 20 November 2006. He will face court again on 26 October. Kara is also on trial for an article entitled "Full-time killers", in which he criticised the state and the army in relation to a bombing in Diyarbakir in which 10 people died, eight of them children. Again, Article 301 has been cited, and the case will start on 26 October. Finally, Kara will face the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court on 30 January 2008 for an article entitled "Isolation Knows No Limits", writing about isolation cells in prisons. The article was published in the "Ülkede Özgür Gündem" newspaper on 14 November 2006. In addition, the "Ülkede Özgür Gündem" newspaper's responsible editor Özlem Aktan and writer Mustafa Temizkan are on trial for "praising a criminal" after an article referred to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan as "the leader of the Kurdish People".

Retired judge Zekeriya Dilsizoglu is demanding 100,000 YTL compensation from editor Nurgül Balcioglu of the “Gaziantep Sabah newspaper. Balcioglu had criticised the judge's claim that "In nine out of ten murders, a woman is involved". The case began on 14 September at the Bakirköy 8th Penal Court (Istanbul) and will continue on 29 November.

A case against “Nokta” magazine editor Alper Görmüs began on 19 September. The trial is related to the publication of parts of retired Navy Commander General Özden Örnek’s diaries. On 29 March, the magazine had published an article entitled “Sarikiz and Ayisigi in Suprising Detail. We had a narrow escape from two military coups in 2004!” Following a complaint by Örnek, Görmüs is now on trial. The case will continue on 29 February 2008 and up to six years and eight months imprisonment are being demanded.

Dink family lawyer Erdal Dogan is on trial for saying that "Hrant was particularly worried about Veli Kücük getting involved in his trial". Veli Kücük, a retired brigadier general who is infamous in Turkey for his involvement in the "deep state", is said to have threatened Dink. There is no investigation against Veli Kücük. Kücük is deamnding 10,000 YTL compensation for being portrayed as a “murderer” and for being accused without justification. At the hearing on 18 September, the Beyoglu 4th Penal Court requested more evidence from both sides. The trial will continue on 22 November.

Yasin Yetisgen, owner and responsible director of the weekly "Coban Atesi" (Shepherd's Fire) newspaper in Gaziantep, south-eastern Turkey, is on trial under Article 216/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. Yetisgen, and the writer of the article, Hursit Kasikkirmaz, are charged with “inciting hatred and hostility”. The case is based on the controversial use of the term “Kurdistan” in the sentence “With a population of 2 million, Antep is the biggest metropoloe in Northern Kurdistan”. The case will begin on 4 October at the Gaziantep 10th Penal Court.

Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran had been on trial under Article 216/1 for the writing of the report of the Minority Rights and Cultural Rights Working Group. The two academics had suggested the term "citizenship of Turkey" (or literally "Turkey-ness", in Turkish "Türkiyelik") as a super-identity in their report. Since 14 November 2005 they have been on trial, with a sentence of between 1.5 and 4.5 years being demanded. An Ankara Penal Court had aquitted the two academics of "inciting hatred and hostility" on 10 May, but, following the appeal of Ankara Public Prosecutor Hüseyin Boyrazoglu, the supreme court overturned this decree. On 13 September, the 8th Penal Department of the Court of Appeals decreed that "a new definition of minority will endanger the unitary state and the inseparability of the nation".

A Recep Akkus and an Asim Demir have filed a criminal complaint against the “Radikal” newspaper for translating two articles into Turkish and publishing them. The articles in question are “New Evidence of Armenian Genocide” by the experienced Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk from the “Independent” newspaper and “How Sincere is the ‘Never Again’ Slogan?” by Jeff Jacoby from the “Boston Globe”. Radikal’s responsible editor Hasan Cakkalkurt may face a trial under Article 301 for “degrading Turkishness”. The complaint is still being investigated.

Fuat Turgut, the defense lawyer of Yasin Hayal, a suspect in the Hrant Dink murder trial, is demanding a total of 20,000 YTL compensation from “Radikal” columnist Perihan Magden, “Birgün” journalist Ahmet Tulgar and Dink family lawyer Erdal Dogan. The trial was opened on 12 September. In an article published on 5 July 2007, Magden had described Turgut as a “freak showman”. On the same day, Tulgar wrote of him as “mad and showy”.

The case of DTP Batman PM Aysel Tugluk and the party’s former Siirt Province chair Murat Avci continued on 11 September. They are on trial for a statement they made - on World Peace Day. Tugluk is accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda”. The Diyarbakir 4th Heavy Penal Court has decided to request an official statement regarding Tugluk’s parliamentarian status. The court has further decreed that if Avci, who has not attended hearings, does not appear in court by 13 November, which is the next hearing, he will be brought forcibly. Tugluk is also being tried for a speech she made in Batman last year. Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law has been cited and up to five years imprisonment are being demanded. The next hearing in this case is 25 October.

The trial against 56 mayors who had written to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2005 in order to persuade him not to close down Roj TV has had to be postponed awaiting the answer of Denmark’s media secretary. On 11 September, the Diyarbakir 5th Heavy Penal Court demanded an original English text on the situation concerning Roj TV for the second time. The trial will continue on 20 November. The 56 mayors, 54 of whom are from the pro-Kurdish DTP, and two from the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP), are being accused of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organisation” by “trying to prevent the loss of a visual propaganda medium of the terrorist organisation”. The prosecution has demanded the acquittal of three and prison sentences ranging from 7.5 to 15 years for the other 53. They are being tried under Articles 314/3 and 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Hikmet Erden, reporter for the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) is being tried for claiming that soldiers were trying to prevent people from voting for the “A thousand hope” candidates supported by the pro-Kurdish DTP party in the Karacadag region of Diyarbakir. Following a criminal complaint by the gendarmerie, the Diyarbakir Public Prosecution has opened a trial against Erden for “spreading slander in the press”, citing Article 267 of Law 5237 of the Penal Code and demanding between one and four years in prison. The case will start at the Diyarbakir 2nd Penal Court on 2 February 2008.

Emin Bal, reporter for the Dogan News Agency and the “Sirnak News” newspaper, filed a complaint against police officers for hitting him at the same time as they claimed the same about him. Bal has been to court eight times for “hitting three police officers” a year ago. On the other hand, no trial has been opened against the police officers, whom Bal claims hit him. Bal had a medical report saying that he was unfit to work for six days. The journalist’s lawyer Mücahit Dursun said, “Although we filed criminal complaints on the same date, the case against my client has nearly been decided. Our complaint against the police however, is still waiting at the prosecutor’s office. The case against Bal will continue on 4 October. Bal claims that he was arrested and beaten by police officers on 10 October 2006 when he went to court to research a court case.

Singer Ferhat Tunc is being tried for saying at a concert in Antalya’s Alanya district on 22 July 2006: “Just as every soldier who dies in this country is a child of this country, every guerilla who is killed is this country’s child.” Tunc will appear at the Izmir 10th Heavy Penal Court on 4 October. He is being tried under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law and five years imprisonment are being demanded.

Yücel Sayman, former president of the Istanbul Bar Association, who accused Kemal Kerincsiz’s lawyers of influencing the judiciary at the first hearing in the trial against journalists from the “Agos” newspaper, is being tried for insulting those same lawyers. The hearing in question was on 10 May 2006, when editor-in-chief Hrant Dink, editor Arat Dink and licence holder Serkis Seropyan were being tried. Following a complaint by Kerincsiz, Sayman will have to appear at the Sisli Penal Court in February 2008. Article 125 of the Penal Code is being cited, and up to two years imprisonment are being demanded.

Cagri Karadag and Kemal Bozkurt, the owner and editor-in-chief of the “Revolution is the Only Way Movement” magazine were acquitted at a hearing at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court on 31 August. The trial had been opened because of two articles entitled "The Kurds are my brothers and the people in E-type prisons are your children" and "1 September World Peace Day". The articles were published in the eighth issue of the magazine in September and October 2004, and the two journalists had been on trial under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law. In the first article it had said: "As those resisting become isolated, attacks increase. Let us unite our forces in order to create an effective resistance against the brutal attacks on the Kurdish movement, the systematic attacks on the revolutionaries and the torture.” Bozkurt is furthermore on trial for an article about Mahir Cayan, a student revolutionary leader of the 1960s, and his friends. He is accused of “praising a crime and criminals” and will be tried on 18 October at the Istanbul 2nd Penal Court.

Özgür Ulas Kaplan, the president of the Tunceli Bar Association, and Hüseyin Tunc, the province chair of the Labour Party (EMEP) were on trial under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for opposing military operations in a programme broadcast by Roj TV. They were acquitted on 16 August. Kaplan and Tunc said that they made a press statement at the Tunceli Municipality conference room together with political party representatives and municipality officials at the end of 2006. After the statement, a Roj TV reporter connected with them by phone and they told the TV channel that operations needed to stop.

On 13 August it emerged that the General Staff filed a criminal complaint against “Sabah” newspaper’s columnist Umur Talu for an article published on 12 June 2007 and entitled, "Are these impossible?" Article 95/4 of the Military Penal Code has been cited and a sentence ranging from six months to three years is being demanded. The legal article also envisages an increment in the sentence because a published text is concerned. Talu is being accused of "acting in an insulting and derisive manner aimed at undermining relations between junior and senior officers and destroying the trust in superiors or commanders". Talu gave a statement to the Press Prosecutor Ismail Onaran in Istanbul on 7 August. Talu’s article, which expressed common complaints of lower ranking soldiers, included a call for "human treatment when alive for noncommissioned officers and the totally excluded sergeants by the high-ranking officers who attend their funerals", as well as "their admission to army leisure centres". The Initiative against The Crime of Thought has protested against Talu's prosecution, saying, "Civilians are still being tried by Military Penal Law, which is incongruous with the promises made in the EU reform packages."

Mustafa Koyuncu, the responsible director of the local “Emirdag” newspaper in Afyonkarahisar has been accused of insulting local authorities in the press. He was arrested on 13 March and held for a week. His trial, now without detention, will continue on 3 October. In the 12 March 2007 issue of the newspaper, Koyuncu had criticised the police in Emirdag in an article entitled “Should We Enter the EU Like This? They Are Abusing Their Positions”. The article quotes claims from people who had been arrested in Emirdag. The journalist was stopped when driving and arrested. 44 police officers have filed complaints against him.

Nurdan Acur, the Human Resources Manager of the Merkez Newspaper Magazine Group, is suing the publishing companies of three news websites, www.superpoligon.com, www.celiknet.com, and www.haberciler.com, for 6,000 YTL compensation. The websites had reported on the suit which the Turkey Journalists’ Syndicate (TGS) has filed against Acur for pressurising trade union members to resign from the trade union. She is said to have handed out pre-prepared Trade Union Resignation Forms to employees of the Merkez Newspaper Magazine Press Publishing Company, whether they were members of the trade union or not. Acur said in her complaint of 25 July that her personal rights had been attacked. The editor-in-chief of the website Gercekgündem (Real agenda), Baris Yarkadas was told on 12 August to attend the hearing at the Sisli 1st Court of First Instance on 21 November.

On 9 August, “Hürriyet” newspaper’s reporter Sebati Karakurt was told by the Istanbul 10th Heavy Penal Court to pay a preliminary fine of 455 YTL. Karakurt is being tried for a feature on the Kongra-Gel (popularly still known as the PKK) miltiants on the Qandil mountain in Northern Iraq. Responsible editors Hasan Kilic and Necdet Tatlican have been sentenced to pay 40,000 YTL and 20,000 YTL fines respectively. The feature had been published under the title “In Kandil feminism has gone beyond Kurdish nationalism" on 10 October 2004. Karakurt and Kilic are accused of “spreading the statements of a terrorist organisation”. Should the fines not be paid, the court case will continue on 13 November with a possibility of prison sentences.

On 8 August, the prosecution in Sarköy (province of Tekirdag in Thrace) demanded ten years imprisonment for journalist Yakup Önal of the local "Sarköy'ün Sesi" ("The Voice of Sarköy) newspaper for insulting mayor Can Gürsoy of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and two municipal council members, Olcay Yücel and Ercan Yücel. The case will continue on 31 October. The case had initially been handled by prosecutor Tamer Soysal. On his transferal to Diyarbakir, the case had been taken over by prosecutor Hüseyin Kocaslan. Soysal had appealed against the acquittal of the journalist in an earlier case (14 March), related to an article entitled, "Beer drinkers in blue-flagged Sarköy, beware!" In that case, Önal had been on trial for "violating the secrecy of an investigation" and "attempting to influence the judiciary".

The Bagcilar Prosecution conducted investigations into “Radikal” newspaper’s columnists Perihan Magden and Yildirim Türker at the beginning of August. Prosecutor Ali Cakir conducted a formal investigation into Magden after she wrote an article entitled “Tonight your paint is everywhere, state”, but dismissed proceedings on 29 June. Magden had criticised the ban on news coverage of the weapons Arsenal found in a home in Ümraniye (Istanbul) in her article. Magden was also investigated for “harming the public image of the military” in the same article. Following a complaint by a Recep Akkus, there is also an investigation against Türker under Article 301/2 for “degrading the state’s armed forces”. The investigation is related to an article entitled “Invisible Attack”, published on 8 July 2007 in the Radikal supplement. Türker had written about the process which led to Hrant Dink’s murder, including the indifference of media and state authorities in the face of racism.

On 3 August it was reported that the Supreme Court of Appeals ratified the decision of the Sisli Penal Court to drop its case against writer Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk had been on trial under Article 159 of the old Penal Code after saying in an interview with weekly Swiss magazine “Das Magazin” that “One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds have been killed on this soil”. Up to three years imprisonment had been demanded, but when the Ministry of Justice had refused permission for trial, the Sisli court had dropped the case.

On demand of the Ministry of the Interior, Mayor Abdullah Demirbas of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir lost his post in June and the municipal council was dissolved. The Sur municipality had offered its services in Kurdish and Arabic as well as Turkish. Now the 8th Chamber of the State Council has opened a case against Demirbas and council members for “abusing their position” and “violating the law on insurgency”. In the indictment, prison sentences ranging between one and three and a half years are demanded for the council members deciding on the multilingual services and Osman Baydemir, the mayor of Greater Diyarbakir. A total of 21 persons will be tried at the Diyarbakir 2nd Penal Court on 7 November for “abusing their position” and “violating the law on Turkish letters”. Demirbas has been acquitted in another case concerning an article entitled “Local Government in Light of Multilingual Municipal Services” which he had presented to the European Social Forum.

At the end of July, the Ankara 13th Civil Court of First Instance partially accepted the complaint of a Sükrü Elekdag against “Agos” writer and historian Taner Akcam and decreed that Akcam should pay compensation. Akcam had written an article entitled “Gündüz Aktan and the Saik Issue in the Genocide” and it was published in the weekly newspaper on 6, 20 and 27 January and 3, 10, 17 February 2006. Elekdag, an MP, had claimed that his personal rights were attacked and he was insulted. He had demanded 20,000 YTL compensation. It was decided that Akcam and the newspaper should pay 10,000 YTL and legal interest. Lawyers have appealed against the decision, arguing that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

After saying in a speech, “We will count an attack on Kerkük as an attack on Diyarbakir”, DTP province chair Hilmi Aydogdu was detained for one and a half months. Since 5 April, he has been on trial without detention. The court has listened to journalists who interviews Aydogdu and it has been decided that local journalist Abdülselam Tayfun’s statement also be taken. Now the Diyarbakir 8th Penal Court is going to evaluate CD recordings. At a hearing on 26 July, Aydogdu’s lawyer Hayrettin Güzel had been given time to examine the analysis of the recording. Aydogdu is being tried under Article 216/1 of the old Penal Code for “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” and up to 4.5 years imprisonment are being demanded. The case will continue on 2 October.

Lawyer Ferhat Bayindir had taken on the case of Hasin Is, who had been killed in front of the Batman Municipality building two years ago, on 27 August 2005. Bayindir himself was put on trial after a press statement he made on 16 June 2005. He was accused of "insulting the police force". The case will continue at the Batman Heavy Penal Court on 4 October.

In the case against Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir, the expert report has been questioned. Baydemir is said to have told the “Tempo” magazine in an interview that “Turks and Kurds cannot live together”. On 24 July the Bagcilar 2nd Penal Court (Istanbul) accepted Baydemir’s lawyer Özcan Intas’s claim that the expert had confused the utterances of Baydemir and DTP Siirt province chair Murat Avci and the lawyer’s demand for correction. The court has ordered the correction, and, if recordings of Baydemir exist, their analysis. Baydemir has been on trial under Article 216 of the old Penal Code for “inciting the public to hatred and hostility”. The case will continue on 6 December.

Eren Keskin, lawyer and former president of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD), will not be tried for “inciting to hatred and hostility” after a speech she made in the Bulanik district of Mus, in which she used the term “Kurdistan”. The Bulanik prosecution decreed that “however unacceptable it was, it consisted of expressing an opinion” and dropped proceedings. In the justification it said that the suspect had used the term Kurdistan to refer to the area mostly inhabited by Kurds. However, she will be tried for the use of the same term used at a panel entitled “Woman, Society and Family” at the Viransehir Culture and Arts Festival two and a half years ago. Keskin has said that there are 15 trials open against her under Articles 159 and 301.

Ali Riza Vural, editor of Doz Publications, is being tried for “degrading and ridiculing the Republic in print” after publishing Mesut Barzani’s two-volume book entitled “Barzani and the Kurdish National Freedom Movement”. The Beyoglu 2nd Penal Court decided on 18 July to postpone the trial of Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, who had initally been tried in relation with the book. The case was opened under Article 301/2 on 5 October 2005 and three years imprisonment is being demanded for Vural. The book was initially published in February 2003 and then withdrawn after a change in law. The second edition came out in May 2005. Vural will appear in court on 28 November.

The case against Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan, editor and licence holder of the Agos newspaper respectively, continued on 17 July. The two journalists are being tried for an interview which murdered Hrant Dink gave the Reuters News Agency and for an article entitled “A Vote against 301”. The trial was opened after Recep Akkus of the nationalist Great Lawyers’ Union filed a complaint. The trial, brought under Article 301/1 continues on 11 October. Up to three years imprisonment are being demanded.

Durmus Sahin, a student of the Ankara Gazi University Education Faculty, was arrested on 11 July when he refused to shake hands with Minister for Health Recep Akdag. Sahin had said, “I do not shake hands with those in government who do not provide services to the citizens”. After five days detention, he was brought before the Olur Criminal Court of Peace. There Sahin said, “Although I did not want to shake hands, the minister persisted in wanting tos hake my hands. Because I did not give my hand, he sent me to prison.” Sahin was released from detention but will be tried. A prison sentence from six months to two years is being demanded.

The Ankara 14th Civil Court of First Instance has rejected the complaint of Prime Minister Erdogan against “Sabah” columnist Hincal Uluc. After the murder of Hrant Dink, he had written an article entitled “Sects and Presidential Candidacy”, which was published on 7 February. Erdogan had demanded 20,000 YTL compensation for “serious atttack and slander”, but on 12 July the court rejected the complaint. Uluc had claimed that the positions of Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah and Minister of the Interior Abdülkadir Aksu were being protected after the murders of priest Andrea Santoro and journalist Hrant Dink because of their connections with religious sects and that the Prime Minister was closely linked to sects.

On 8 July, the Ankara 14th Civil Court of First Instance also rejected the 20,000 YTL compensation case which the KOZA gold mining company (which uses cyanide in its extraction) opened against the “Günlük Evrensel” newspaper. The complaint had been made when the newspaper reported on events which took place between KOZA goldmine employees and municipal officials on the one hand and the public on the other at the “Cyanide-Gold Environment Panel”. The Izmir 2nd Civil Court of First Instance had rejected two complaints of the same company against the “Birgün” newspaper’s editor Ibrahim Cesmecioglu and reporter Elcin Yagiz after the publication of two articles entitled, “Road of Acid” and “Closure Trial for Ovacik Gold Mine”.

Journalist Sinan Kara has been sentenced to 3 months and five days imprisonment and a fine of 522 YTL after Datca’s district governor (Kaymakam) Savas Tuncer had filed a complaint against him for “insulting him in the press”. The journalist was notified of the decision by the Datca Penal court, made on 4 July, on 23 July. In an article published on the website Memleketinsesi.com on 25 January 2005, Kara had claimed that Tuncer was turning a blind eye to and protecting the smuggling of historical artifacts. Kara said, “Now I go to prison without complaining. These are the days we live in.” Kara has spent a total of one year and three months in prison and there are 25 more cases against him. Should the court decision under Article 482/4 be ratified by the Supreme Court of Appeals, he will go to prison again.

Prime Minister Erdogan has opened a 10,000 YTL compensation trial against journalist Cüneyt Arcayürek for attacking his personal rights. Arcayürek had appeared on the “Politika Duragi” programme of the Kanaltürk channel and is said to have said, “Their insides and their outsides are lies. They are liars.”

On 4 July it was reported that Prime Ministerial advisor Cüneyd Zapsu’s demand for 10,000 YTL compensation from the “Milliyet” newspaper and editor Dogan Akin had been rejected. the Istanbul 6th Civil Court of First Instance decideded on 28th June that the article written about Al Qaida operations and published on 3 July 2006 did not contain an insult to Zapsu. The complaint against the newspaper said a conscious slandering campaign against Zapsu had been initiated, wrong and misleading statements were made, and the impression was created in the public that he was connected to and supported terrorist organisations.”

On 2 July, the Ankara 5th Commercial Court of First Instance rejected the Army Mutual Aid Foundation (OYAK)’s 10 million YTL compensation claim from “Milliyet” journalists Güngör Uras and Metin Münir. They had criticised the fact that OYAK had bought the Erdemir iron and steel factories and then sold some of the shares to a foreign company. OYAK had also demanded a total of 25 million YTL compensation from Yigit Bulut, then writing for “Radikal”, Aydin Ayaydin from “Sabah” and Ibrahim Haselcin of the “Star Borsaci” magazine.

Corrections and Seeking Legal Redress

The trial of N.B. and M.B., accused of attacking journalist Necip Capraz two years ago, started on 17 September. Capraz, a reporter for the Anatolia Agenc and the owner of the “Yüksekova News” in Hakkari province, had investigated reactionary activities. On 22 September 2005, he was attacked by ten masked people and seriously injured. He then filed a complaint against his attackers. The court case will continue on 5 November. While the accused protest their innocence, Capraz has identified the car used that night and the driver of the car. The defendants are being tried for “deliberately causing injury”.

As of 10 August, “Cumhuriyet” newspaper’s reporter Alper Turgut, who was attacked by riot police at Taksim Square when covering a forbidden 1 May rally there, has not yet been able to bring those responsible to trial. The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Public Prosecution has decided not to proceed with the Turgut’s lawyer Tora Pekin’s complaint against Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah and the Riot Police Department. Pekin had complained to the Council of State Chamber Presidency because of “deliberate injury of a person” and “violation of the freedom to work”. He had based his complaint on Articles 86/1, 3-c and 117/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Three relatives of Mus’s MP from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Medeni Yilmaz, have been found guilty of threatening Emrullah Özbey, owner of the local weekly “News 49” newspaper. Özbey was told on 5 July that Mahsun Yilmaz, Fatih Yilmaz and Ferit Yilmaz were given a two-year suspended sentence each. In addition, Mahsun Yilmaz has been fined for insulting the journalist.

Reactions to censorship and monopolisation

At the end of September, 114 lecturers at the prestigious Bosphorus University (Istanbul) condemned the trial of Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran and Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu, the authors of the Minority Rights Report. Among them were Prof. Dr. Nükhet Sirman, Prof. Dr. Ayse Bugra, Prof. Dr. Edhem Eldem, Prof. Dr. Fatma Gök, Prof. Dr. Caglar Keyder and Assistant Prof. Dr. Koray Caliskan. The academics emphasised that the report "does not contain any elements of violence", as was claimed in the justification for the trial. They also demanded the abolition of Articles 301 and 216 and similar articles in the Turkish Penal Code and said, "We view Kaboglu and Oran's trial under Articles 301 and 216 as a restriction of academic freedom."

On 20 September the Human Rights Association (IHD) published its report on the first six months of 2007. According to the report, 94 court cases were opened against 451 people who had used their right to freedom of expression, and 88 investigations were launched against 361 people. In the 103 cases against 368 people which were concluded in that period, the punishments added up to 229 years, 3 months and 15 days imprisonment and 7,981 YTL in fines. The IHD evaluated these statistics as an indication that “there has no improvement in the area of freedom of expression”. According to the IHD, 17 cases in this period were brought under Article 301, 22 under Article 215 (“praising a crime and criminals”), 4 under Article 314, 2 under Article 216 (“inciting the public to hatred and hostility”), 2 under Article 288 (“attempting to influence the judiciary”), 20 under Article 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, 2 under the Law Concerning Crimes Committed against Atatürk, and 1 under Article 312 of the old Turkish Penal Code.

On 10 September, the Istanbul 12th Heavy Penal Court decreed that the "Gündem" newspaper would be closed for 30 days as a punishment for publishing two articles by PKK leader Murat Karayilan, entitled "Let us become populist, let us win" and "Self-criticism not in words but in practice". The newspaper was accused of spreading PKK propaganda. The newspaper had had three previous publication bans, on 6 March 2007 for 30 days, on 9 April 2007 for 15 days, and on 12 July 2007 for 15 days. Editor-in-chief Yüksel Genc pointed out that the newspaper was being punished under a law which 10th President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had sent to the Constitutional Court. He added, "It is difficult to understand that our publication is being stopped for the forth time by an Article which tramples on the freedom of the press."

The “Cagdas Tuzla” (Modern Tuzla) newspaper has won its case at the Istanbul 7th Administrative Court after its building was sealed up by the Tuzla municipality in Istanbul four months ago with the justification that there was no authorisation for employment in the building. Newspaper owner Halil Özen announced that, after being deprived of their workplace for four months, the newspaper would sue Tuzla mayor Mehmet Demirci for compensation for material and mental damages.

The judiciary in Turkey allows for the closure of a whole website if one item contained in it has become the subject of a complaint. After the alternative dictionary Eksi Sözlük and the Antoloji.com websites, the WorldPress.com website was closed in August. Cause for the closure was a complaint by Adnan Oktar. The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organisation has previously stated that it finds this wholesale closure of a website “radical and disproportionate.”

A Regional Administrative Court has decreed that a park in Diyarbakir cannot be named after human rights activist and publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu who died five yeras ago, arguing that she was a person who "supported separatist ideas and spread terrorist propaganda both in her own books and in the books she published". The widower of Ayse Nur Zarakolu, Ragip Zarakolu, journalist at the "Ülkede Özgür Gündem" and publisher, said: "Ayse Nur Zarakolu, like Hrant Dink, was a person who tried to build bridges between our peoples on the basis of mutual respect , and she is one of the people who paid for this with her life."

On 16 August, the G-9 Platform, which unites ten professional press organisations, condemned the dismissal of journalist Emin Cölasan from the “Hürriyet” newspaper. The platform said that Cölasan had committed years to the newspaper from which he was then dismissed arbitrarily. The platform described this as a warning that everyone needed to protect press freedom and freedom of expression. Reyhan Yalcindag, the president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), on the other hand, did not believe that Cölasan was dismissed because of rights issues and took a more critical stance: “We do not consider thoughts which serve violence as freedom of expression.”

The Human Rights Association (IHD) branch in Adana (southern Turkey) received a letter by one Ayhan Bozkaya saying that the prison management does not give prisoners newspapers. On 13 August Ethem Acikalin of the IHD said that the association had applied to the Penal Execution Judge and the Ministry of Justice, protesting against the fact that daily newspapers and periodicals were not allowed into prison despite the fact that there was no court order to confiscate them. The letter of objection said that this was obstructing the right to inform oneself and that it represented a violation of international agreements that Turkey was part of. Acikalin said that prisoners at an F-type prison in Kürkcüler (Adana) had been given newspapers after human rights associations had publicised their plight.

On 24 July, the Turkey Journalists' Society (TGC) awarded its Freedom of Press Prizes to Rakel Dink, widow of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, publisher Ragip Zarakolu and lawyer Gülcin Cayligil as representatives of "all those journalists and writers who have suffered and been tried under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.". TGC president Orhan Erinc presented the awards at the ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul. In his opening speech, he said, "Today censorship is not the direct inspection of newspapers, but the limiting clauses placed in laws." In her acceptance speech, Rakel Dink criticised Cemil Cicek, Minister of Justice when her husband was still alive. He had said, "Let them be happy, they get prizes because of us". Hrant Dink had replied, "Our greatest prize would be the abolishment of Article 301."

In July, a heavy penal court in Istanbul stopped the "Güncel" newspaper from publishing for twelve days, arguing that it was the continuation of the "Gündem" newspaper which had been closed for 15 days. "Gündem" had been closed on 15 July 2007 for an article on pre-election opinions in Batman, a province in the south-east of Turkey, published on 12 July and entitled: "Batman's message: Look after the guerrillas". Mehmet Samur, the editor-in-chief of the "Güncel" newspaper evaluated its closure in the daily "Evrensel" newspaper as "election censorship". The newspaper was closed until 28 July, six days after the general elections took place.

A Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul decreed the closure of the "Gündem" newspaper for fifteen days. Cause for the closure was an article published on 12 July in issued 132, entitled: "The Batman Message: Stand By the Guerrillas". The newspaper has been closed for 30 and 15 days before and has now been closed for "spreading PKK propaganda in a call for violence". Friday's issue (13 July) of the newspaper was confiscated. Gündem's Editor-in-chief Yüksel Genc argued that the closure was a violation of the freedom of the press. He said that the newspaper was continually being targeted. The newspaper had quoted a worker from Batman as saying, "The people's expectations of the [pro-Kurdish] independent candidates are very clear. The people are sending them to parliament not in order to support PKK terrorism, but to support the people's children who are struggling for their rights.”

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)

On 20 September, the ECHR decreed that Turkey had violated the freedom of expression of 19 people in prison when not allowing them to write or receive letters. Three of them were Mahmut Sakar and Vedat Cetin from the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Erdal Tas, the editor-in-chief of the “New Agenda in 2000” (2000’de Yeni Gündem). The European court awarded the two IHD plaintiffs 3,500 Euros compensation each. The ECHR further decreed that Erdal Tas had not received a fair trial when he had twice been tried and fined under Article 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for “publishing the statements of the PKK”. Turkey is to pay Turkey a total of 4,000 Euros compensation. Further, the court decreed that 16 prisoners from Aydin prison, who had protested against the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in a statement to the Ministry of Justice, should not have been tried for “separatist propaganda”, as this was incongruous with the freedom of expression. The freedom of expression of Sükrü Tapkan, Dilaver Keklik, Murat Dogan, Mehmet Hazbin Korkut, Hilmi Olsoy, Fuat Ay, Ali Budak, Celalettin Polat, Ahmet Ertas, Ilhami Gülmez, Hamdullah Kiran, Ibrahim Elbir, Velat Cetinkaya, Hüseyin Vural, Ilhan Dayan and Riza Tan was thus limited unacceptably. However, the ECHR has only awarded Vural 1,000 Euros compensation for mental damages, while the others are to paid 1,000 legal costs.

On 31 July, the ECHR decreed that Turkey did not limit the freedom of expression of former Kayseri mayor Sükrü Karatepe when it punished him for "inciting hatred and hostility" in several of his speeches. On 9 October 1997, Karatepe had been sentenced to a year imprisonment and a fine by the Ankara State Security Court for "spreading hatred and hostility by pointing to differences in religion" in speeches made in October and November 1996. Karatepe was removed from his office in February 1998 and arrested on 24 April 1998. Karatepe, a member of the Welfare Party (RP), was given a conditional release on 17 September 1998. While the ECHR acknowledged that the army members of the state security courts made fair trials less likely, and that this was incongruous with Article 6/1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, it found that Karatepe's punishment was not excessive, considering the aim of preventing the incitement to crime. Voting six to one, the ECHR decreed that the sentence did not violate Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights and denied Karatepe the right to compensation. It charged the former mayor with paying 500 Euros court expenses.

On 24 July, the ECHR found Turkey guilty of “limiting freedom of expression” in an appeal against the banning of the “Yedinci Gündem” (Seventh Agenda) newspaper in the regions ruled by emergency law (OHAL regions). Although the ECHR acknowledged that decisions made in OHAL regions were not subject to the judiciary, it nevertheless found the case incongruous with Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights which deals with “the right to effective appeals to court”. Complainants to the ECHR were Hünkar Demirel, Evrim Alatas, Lales Arslan, Mehmet Burtakucin, Zeynal Akgül, Abdulvahap Tas, Azad Özkeskin, Bozkurt Mevlüt, Ragip Zarakolu and Hidir Ates.

The ECHR has found the punishment of Hasan Celal Güzel, who had been given a suspended prison sentence, wrong. In an article in the “Yeni Günaydin” newspaper on 23 June 1997, Güzel had commented on the then President Süleyman Demirel, writing, “If you are President, then act like a President”. Turkey is to pay Güzel 5,000 YTL legal costs.

RTÜK [Radio and Television Supreme Council] practices

RTÜK announce that Kanaltürk’s main news at 8 pm on 24, 25, 26 and 28 June 2007 and the lunchtime news programme “Editor’s Desk” at 1pm had conveyed interpretations which could the direct public against the Justice and Development Party (AKP). In the statement, RTÜK said: “While news about many political parties was broadcast in up-to-date form, news regarding the AKP was broadcast in combination with the Prime Minister’s speeches from the past and in a biased manner”. Since 11 September, the channel has not been allowed to broadcast its main news programme. The “Word Parliament” programme presented by Tuncay Özkan has also been stopped nine times. CHP leader Deniz Baykal has criticised RTÜK’s decision.

The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) has filed a complaint against RTÜK president Zahid Akman and RTÜK Monitoring and Evaluating Department Head Nurullah Öztürk at the Ankara Public Prosecution. The complaint concerns the fact that RTÜK members Saban Sevinc and Mehmet Dabak are said to have deliberately given the names of TV channels and radio stations disobeying the election bans to the YSK late.

The Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) punished 20 TV channels with warnings and programme bans because of violations of the pre-election broadcasting rules. Evaluating 117 monitoring reports, RTÜK acted in 39 cases. Kanaltürk was punished with six programme bans, 24 TV was warned and three different programmes were banned 3, 6, and 9 times respectively. CNN Türk was warned, and two programmes were banned 3 and 5 times respectively. Two programmes on Fox TV were banned three times each. Haber 7 and Haber Türk both received a warning and three programmes were banned once for each channel. Kanal 7 was warned and two programmes were banned 3 and 4 times respectively. ATV, Flash TV, Kanal B, Kanal D, NTV, Sky Türk and Star TV received a warning each. Kanaltürk, Meltem TV and TGRT Haber received a warning each and three programmes on each channel were banned 3, 6, and 9 times respectively. Mesaj TV was warned and four programmes were banned 3, 6, 9 and 12 times respectively. Ulusal 1 TV received a warning and three programmes were banned 3,4 and 6 times respectively. (EÖ/AG)

Bia News Centre, 30-10-2007, Erol Önderoglu


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