Bia Media Monitoring Desk: Quarterly Report Published
The Bia Media Monitoring Desk publishes regular quarterly and annual reports on the state of press freedom and the freedom of expression in Turkey. The period of July, August and September 2007 has again witnessed many trials for journalists.
Bıa news centre21-10-2007
In the last three months, 125 persons, most of them journalists, and six media agencies have been tried for activities which could be interpreted as being within the framework of the freedom of expression.
Although Articles 301 and 216 of the new Turkish Penal Code continue to worry people, national and international campaigns calling for justice are emerging, too.
19-page report published on website
A 19-page quarterly report for the months of July, August and September 2007 has been published by the Bia Media Monitoring Desk (see bianet's Turkish website). The full report will also be translated into English and published on this website. The report contains information on 158 people and 82 court cases in domestic courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Report organised under seven headings
The monitoring desk reports the violations of press freedom under the headings "attacks and threats", "detentions and arrests", "trials and initiatives", "corrections and redress", "European Court of Human Rights", "reactions to censorship" and "implementations of RTÜK [the Radio and Television Supreme Council]" .
Articles 301 and 216
Article 301, which has cause more than a hundred people to find themselves in court since 1 June 2005, has been the reason for 15 trials of 22 people, mostly journalists, in the last three months. Writer Emin Karaca, student Durmus Sahin, singer Ferhat Tunc, publishers Ragip Zarakolu and Mehmet Ali Vural, journalists Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan, human rights activists Eren Keskin, Ferhat Bayindir, Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal still have to defend themselves against charges brought under Article 301. Furthermore, the last three months have seen 12 people sentenced under Article 216 of the Penal Code (the former Article 312), referring to "incitement to hatred and hostility". Do not write about "Turkish citizens" or "Kurdistan"The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the acquittal of Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran, who had suggested the concept of "Turkish citizenship" [Türkiyelilik] instead of "Turkishness" in their Minority Rights Report. According to the new decree, a redefinition of minority would endanger the "unitary state and the indivisibility of the nation". Yasin Yetisgen, owner and editor of the local Coban Atesi (Shepherd's Fire) newspaper in Gaziantep, has not only been in prison for writing that "Antep is an industrial city in the North of Kurdistan"; he is also on trial under Article 216.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often targeted caricaturists by taking them to trial; finally, a mayor in Kocaeli managed to get caricaturist Muhammet Sengöz, of the "Özgür Kocaeli" (Free Kocaeli) newspaper sentenced for a caricature entitled "What is next mayor?". The sentence of 11 months and 20 days imprisonment was converted into a fine of 7,000 YTL.
Long detentionsThe above mentioned Yasin Yetisgen and Erzurum student Durmus Sahin were both detained "as a precautionary measure". News editor Sait Bayram and reporter Firat Avci, of the Diyarbakir "Söz TV" were detained for one month after accusing a judge of corruption. 22 journalists and 6 media agencies have been sentenced to 10,246,000 YTL fines and 23 years, 10 months and 20 days imprisonment for "defamation" and "insults". In Europe there are no prison sentences in such situations. Muzaffer Erdogdu, Taner Akcam, Ilhan Selcuk, Erdal Dogan, Hincal Uluc, Cüneyt Arcayürek, Yücel Sayman, Yakup Önal, Güngör Uras, Metin Münir and Sinan Kara are all facing compensation claims or the threat of imprisonment with this kind of charge. A retired judge 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". Former Naval Commander and retired General Özden Örnek is demanding that editor Alper Görmüs of the Nokta magazine be imprisoned for 6 years and 8 months for publishing a news item concerned with claims of a military coup.
Attacks and threats
In the last three months, five journalists have been attacked and four journalists have received threats. During the second quarter, which included the 1 May police violence, 17 journalists had been attacked and 6 had been threatened.The report also writes about journalist Ali Bayramoglu, who first reported about the You Tube clip which combined nationalist singer Ismail Türüt's song "Plan, Don't Make a Plan" with a video clip glorifying the murder suspects of journalist Hrant Dink. It also writes about journalist Türker Alkan, who has been receiving death threats. ECHR: More sentences, but lower sumsIn the relevant period, the ECHR sentenced Turkey to a total of 14,500 Europs compensation in 32 cases of violations of the freedom of expression. Because most appeals to the ECHR had not specified any amounts, this sum is much lower than the 78,250 Euros of the second quarter.
Law on Terrorism
The report also writes about how the Law on Terrorism has been applied. After 23 people were arrested in "Operation Gaye", targeting the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), Füsun Erdogan, broadcasting coordinator of "Özgür Radio" (Free Radio), Ibrahim Cicek and Sedat Senoglu, the editor-in-chief and publication coordinator for the "Atılım" newspaper respectively, will finally appear in court on 26 October, 14 months after their arrest.Reporter Sebati Karakurt and editors Hasan Kilic and Necdet Tatlican of the Hürriyet newspaper have been sentenced to 455 YTL, 40,000 YTL and 20,000 YTL respectively for a feature report on a PKK camp on Kandil Mountain. Should the fines not be paid by 13 November, imprisonment is still possible.In addition, the trial of 56 mayors from Kurdish cities continues. They had written to the Danish Prime Minister asking him not to close Roj TV, the satellite TV channel which is illegal in Turkey, but watched by many Kurds.There are good news, too...The Army Mutual Aid Foundation (OYAK) has withdrawn its demand of 10 million YTL compensation from Güngör Uras and Metin Münir.A penal court in Mus, eastern Anatolia, has given Mahsun, Fatih and Ferit Yilmaz suspended sentences of two years imprisonment each for threatening Emrullah Özbey, owner of the "Haber 49" (News 49) newspaper. The Yilmaz relatives had threatened Özbey because he had criticised their relative Medeni Yilmaz, an MP for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). (EÖ/AG)