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Turkey: 301 strikes again

By Index on Censorship / 20 June, 2008


A publisher has been sentenced to five months in prison for ‘insulting the Turkish Republic’. Index on Censorship reports

A Turkish publisher has become the latest victim of the notorious article 301, which makes it a crime to ‘insult the Turkish republic’.

A judge ruled that Ragip Zarakolu, who published British author George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free, had broken the law, by printing references to the Armenian ‘genocide’ of 1915. The Turkish government does not dispute that many Armenians were killed in 1915, but refuses to recognise the events as genocide.

Zarakolu has been sentenced to five months in prison.

Speaking to Index, Zarakolu said he believed the decision to convict him had been made from the start. ‘The judge and prosecutor were harsh. It was an ideological court — on a mission to defend the system and the state philosophy.’

He also suggested the politics of his case were determined by the extent to which the AKP government, with its roots in Islam, feels under threat in the current climate. A case opens in a Turkish court next month seeking a ban on the AKP — many in Turkey’s establishment see the religious party as a threat to the secular principles of the state.

‘Everyone is playing their own game — it’s like an arm-wrestling contest and I’m in the middle.’

Zarakolu will appeal the sentence, and has plans to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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