Nationalists prosecute Turkish writer

Submitted by Anon on 15 January, 2006 - 12:02

By Joan Trevor

The Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk faces charges of insulting
Turkishness, that might earn him up to three years in prison. An
earlier charge against him of insulting Turkey's armed forces has
been dropped.

Pamuk's prosecution by Turkish nationalists under Article 301 of the
penal code opened and was halted on 16 December, while the judge
seeks the justice ministry's approval to go ahead.
Pamuk, a contender for the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature, is being
sanctioned for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005: "One
million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and
nobody but me dares talk about it." He was referring to the Ottoman
empire's attempted genocide of its Armenian population between 1915
and 1923, and to Turkey's suppression of Kurdish separatists since

As it attempts to join the European Union Turkey is under pressure to
improve its disastrous human rights record, but it has a very long
way to go. Pamuk himself was optimistic in June 2005 when he won the
German Book Trade Peace Prize: "Much is still in transition. The hope
of joining the EU has relaxed the country. And whenever I'm asked
whether Turkey is ready for Europe, I say: It's only a beginning. The
negotiations have just begun. The Turks won't be joining the EU
tomorrow. They hope to become a member in ten years, and by then the
country will have developed economically, politically and culturally."

Pamuk is one of a handful of journalists and writers currently being
prosecuted under Article 301, which came into force in June 2005 as
part of Turkey's reformed, supposedly human rights-friendly, new
legal code.

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