Time to Decriminalize Dissent. Sign Up.

Amnesty International is urging the Turkish government to use this crucial moment to act concretely to decriminalize dissent, at a time when a new constitution is being written where such issues are being debated and when promises have been made in this respect to the PKK in return for peace.

A package of reforms called the “Fourth Judicial Package” is before parliament right now, but Amnesty argues that these reforms fail to make the necessary legislative amendments to bring national law in line with international human rights standards.

The notorious and vaguely defined Article 301 of the Penal Code “Denigration of the Turkish Nation”, used arbitrarily to prosecute a broad variety of speech, remains in force, as does Article 318, “Alienating the public from military service”, used to prosecute support for the right to conscientious objection. Anti-terrorism laws have been used extensively in recent years to prosecute legitimate activities including political speeches, critical writing, attendance at demonstrations and association with recognised political groups and organizations. These three laws are the hammers that have continually and arbitrarily taken aim at people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly to the extent that Turkey now leads the world in number of  journalists in jail.

This is a moment of potential change in which the voices of concerned people might make a difference. Please consider signing Amnesty’s petition (in English here and in Turkish here).  Amnesty’s short report is here and long report in pdf form can be downloaded here.

The right to freedom of expression is under attack in Turkey. Criminal prosecutions targeting dissenting opinions represent one of Turkey’s most entrenched human rights problems. Despite a series of legislative reform packages, unfair laws remain on the statute and continue to be abused. In this report, Amnesty International analyses the problems in law and practice relating to ten of the most problematic offences and makes concrete recommendations on the legislative changes needed to bring these abuses to an end.

Their specific recommendations:

In the Penal Code:

•Repeal Articles 301 “Denigrating the Turkish Nation”, 318 “Alienating the public from military service” and 215 “Praising a crime or a criminal” in their entirety

•Decriminalize defamation as outlined in Article 125 to treat allegations of defamation as a matter for civil litigation by taking it out of the Penal Code

•Amend Article 216 “Incitement to hatred or hostility” by repealing paragraphs 2 and 3 to ensure that only advocacy of hatred constituting incitement to violence is prosecuted

Anti-terrorism offences:

•Bring Turkey’s overly broad and vague definition of terrorism in line with the definition of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

•Repeal Articles 220/6 “Committing a crime in the name of an organization” and 6/2 “Printing or publishing declarations/statements of a terrorist organization”

•Adopt guidelines for prosecutors on the application of Article 220(7) of the Penal Code that set out clear criteria for when assisting an armed group can be criminalized, including the requirement that such assistance must either in and of itself be a recognizable criminal offence, or be directly linked to the planning or commission of one.

•Amend Article 7/2 “Making propaganda for a terrorist organization” so as to ensure that it only prohibits advocacy of incitement to violence

15 Responses to “Time to Decriminalize Dissent. Sign Up.”

  1. Not enough, though it is hardly a matter for AI to come up with a comprehensive list. It is easy to see even by going through threats issued by politicians, intellectuals close to power bullying others [even on twitter!], censorship on the ‘net etc. and the overall climate that these changes would just help some people who’re presently in jail and not bring about an environment where expression is free (eg. TCK-288, law 5816, various licensure and prior restraint approaches). There’s also the bunch who want to criminalize more speech and are making some headway, here’s DurDe celebrating a conviction for expression with jail time: http://www.durde.org/2012/12/suc-duyurumuz-sonucu-1-yil-3-ay-ceza/

  2. To me Osama Bin Laden, who was behind the murder of hundreds of civilians, and the gang that murdered Hrant Dink are not that different.

    The question is what would happen if someone praised Osama Bin Laden in public in the United Sates for what happened in 9/11?

    Letting people praise the people who murdered Hrant Dink is a sign of freedom of speech in Turkey?

    http://www.durde.org/2012/12/suc-duyurumuz-sonucu-1-yil-3-ay-ceza/

  3. What would happened if a group of people praised those who murdered Martin Luther King in public in the USA?

    Hrant Dink is Turkey’s Martin Luther King.

    Those who murdered Hrant Dink and those who praise the murderers have nothing to do with freedom of speech.

  4. Anka I have told previous versions of you and their sock-puppets w/ various aliases how these things can be researched and even gave links. Books, wikipedia articles, very readable US Supreme Court decisions exist and many are accessible thru the ‘net (a major decision touching on ‘hate’/’incitement’ distinction is Brandenburg v. Ohio google it).
    .
    To answer your question, no, I’d bet that absolutely nothing would happen to you in terms of criminal law if you praised the people who killed MLK. Declaring or publishing bad or atrocious opinion is not a crime there. ‘In public’, depending on the ‘public’ you may need protection if you want to shout unpopular stuff. That’s a different issue than getting jailed for speech.
    .
    What the US does isn’t necessarily normative, but this becomes an issue when people bring it up. Many here also misinform people. I recently found out people here are told that you get criminally prosecuted if you say the n-word there. No you don’t. That country had their civil rights movement achieve considerable success w/o criminalizing speech (quite on the contrary, look up NYT v. Sullivan for example).
    .
    I’d just like to add this: if I can rattle off relevant SCOTUS decisions while having absolutely no background on this stuff as a techie, I owe it to our glorious visible intelligentsia and their misinformation (if not mendacity). I know who some of these people are, and I have choice words for them. Of course, those words are illegal to say — even tho it can be argued that they are descriptive.

  5. Bulent your first paragraph clearly reflects your mentality. It also shows why you defend those who praise those who murdered Hrant Dink.

    I completeley disagree with those who defend hate speech. Hate speech against Armenians, Alevis, Homosexuals, Kurds, any ethnic or religious groups should be banned by the law.

    Yes, hate speech is not banned in the US (http://www.npr.org/2011/03/03/134239713/France-Isnt-The-Only-Country-To-Prohibit-Hate-Speech)

    However, people would not defend those who praise murderers in the US in the name of freedom. Give me an example like yourself in the US who defend those who hate Martin Luther King? Give me an example of intellectuals who think those who support Osama Bin Laden should be free in the US?

  6. Hrant Dink is our MLK. And neither killing him nor defending murderers who killed him is a sign of freedom in Turkey.

    I totally agree with this: http://www.durde.org/2012/12/suc-duyurumuz-sonucu-1-yil-3-ay-ceza/

  7. Bulent can you please translate the following sentence into English? It is a statement by Okan Bas who was sentenced to 1 year 2 months in prison by a Turkish court. You can see that Okan Bas praises the murderer (Ogun Samast) and approves killing of Hrant Dink.

    “Ogün Samast gibi gürbüz bir genç, işi ‘Türk’ün kanı pistir’ demeye getiren Hrant denen herifi vurduğu için ağır bir cezayla karşı karşıya kaldı. Kötü mü yaptı yani?”

  8. here is the source: http://www.radikal.com.tr/radikal.aspx?atype=radikaldetayv3&articleid=1111298&categoryid=77

  9. Anka,
    .
    Bulent your first paragraph clearly reflects your mentality. It also shows why you defend those who praise those who murdered Hrant Dink.
    .
    I have done no such thing. It is perfectly possible or two people to disagree w/o either one compromising their integrity. This is not one of those cases. I absolutely stand by what I said in that paragraph — there’s nothing wrong with it. I did indeed say a lot of this, with links and explanations to many trolls and their sock-puppets here and I see nothing in the way you conduct yourself that you’re different.
    .
    Anyway, when you put speech beyond the reach of criminal law, you necessarily include all future speech. It isn’t a defense of any particular person or speech, it is categorical. Dink, MLK, US, Turkey don’t come into the picture except in so far as particular instances. This is almost a truism that shouldn’t even need to be stated. What I want isn’t even relevant to this.
    .
    Besides, I had merely pointed out that there are groups here who want more or different kinds of speech criminalized before you asked about the US or made claims about it. Since indeed it is true that people here want to criminalize speech, what I have said is true. If you agree with them, and you appear to, why did you have to bring the US into this? Does it matter what they do? Surely you didn’t think US law applies here.
    .
    If you want to criminalize speech it would seem to me you should be able to say you want to criminalize speech. Those people do say it and they are happy to secure convictions with jail time. What is the problem here? You want me to say ‘oh no, the conviction isn’t about speech, speech isn’t criminalized here’ or something like that? That would be knowingly asserting a falsehood.
    .
    However, people would not defend those who praise murderers in the US in the name of freedom.
    .
    They would and they do. ACLU routinely does this. They don’t do it because they like those people or things they say. This is not hard.to understand or verify. The trick you attempted to use on me is also a classic, BTW: you impute some desire to defend particular bad people to those who simply do what falls out of the principle and tie it to their mentality or whatnot. The ACLU got parts of the CDA struck down too (Reno v. ACLU) , and I haven’t seen it but I am fairly confident there’d be some people who called them supporters or defenders of vilest pornographers who show atrocious stuff to the kids.
    .
    Give me an example like yourself in the US who defend those who hate Martin Luther King?
    .
    Like myself? Defend what? What is the scenario here? The police rounds up those who say they hate MLK and state or federal attornies general prosecute them? Under that scenario I’d expect there would be a lot of people who’d react. What you are describing didn’t happen there, as far as I know, even during the ‘red scares’ which predate some of the important SCOTUS decisions.
    .
    Give me an example of intellectuals who think those who support Osama Bin Laden should be free in the US?
    .
    Those who support OBL in what way? Surely you don’t mean members of Al Queda? Otherwise freedom of expression is freedom of expression.
    .
    I suspect what’s causing the problems is that people want to claim ‘freedom of expression’ as a high value they adhere to while they simultaneously want to jail those who express things they dislike or find atrocious. What’s wrong with saying ‘I want speech regulated with criminal penalties’ if that’s what you want? No reference to the US, no reference to broad principles etc. are necessary that way.
    .
    It just so happens that the present state of affairs in the US comes close to an absolutist position in terms of restraints on the state. Europeans explicitly choose not to do that for example and even in the European convention they say they will regulate expression. As opposed to the first amendment’s “congress shall make no law” approach, they have a “we will make many laws on this” approach and even have a guarantee for the state’s right to impose licensure to cinemas in the European Convention.
    .
    Actually OBL and that kind of terrorism inside the US and their wars that followed does strain the US legal system quite a bit. Due process, restraints on government, avoidance of torture all get compromised or become controversial. There’s also talk that the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision is getting eroded because the Fed. Gov’t appears keen to find people who advocate violence in the name of Islam and lock them up even when it isn’t clear they actually attempt to conspire to bring about terror attacks and whatnot. This is also why taking other nations’ laws as normative is dangerous — they change.

  10. “This is also why taking other nations’ laws as normative is dangerous.”

    Absolutely!

    Defending the right of those who killed Hrant Dink and those who praise murderers can not be justified in reference to any other nation, Western or Eastern.

    Again this is what that person writes: “Ogün Samast gibi gürbüz bir genç, işi ‘Türk’ün kanı pistir’ demeye getiren Hrant denen herifi vurduğu için ağır bir cezayla karşı karşıya kaldı. Kötü mü yaptı yani?”

    I think this is a disgusting hate speech. Praising those who murdered Hrant Dink, or defending those who praise murderers is not freedom of speech. It is the defense of a hate speech.

    Again please read this: (http://www.npr.org/2011/03/03/134239713/France-Isnt-The-Only-Country-To-Prohibit-Hate-Speech

  11. A reminder note :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan_Workers%27_Party

    I guess PKK is not a REBEL organisation eh ? ; )

    Regards,

  12. ANKA !

    “Defending the right of those who killed Hrant Dink and those who praise murderers can not be justified in reference to any other nation, Western or Eastern.”

    “Again this is what that person writes: “Ogün Samast gibi gürbüz bir genç, işi ‘Türk’ün kanı pistir’ demeye getiren Hrant denen herifi vurduğu için ağır bir cezayla karşı karşıya kaldı. Kötü mü yaptı yani?”

    I think this is a disgusting hate speech. Praising those who murdered Hrant Dink, or defending those who praise murderers is not freedom of speech. It is the defense of a hate speech. ”

    What difference there is between those guys you mention and PKK ?

    Lets hear what you think about PKK ? You might need to read the link I gave above with open eyes and NEUTRAL opinions..

    Regards,

  13. “Alienating the public from military service” !!!!

    Well is has been taken place and done subliminally for some years by sided media hasn’t it ?? Then came the court’s accusations of ergenekon, sludgehammer and etc.. A very cleverly and insidiously planned play.. Such a coincidence is that ONLY PATRIOTS are in DUNGEONS now..

    I rest my case.. ( again )

    :)

  14. Where and why did the last 2 commentators go Jenny ..

  15. They were spammers.

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