Tuesday 29 April 2008
I have just heard that the Turkish Parliament has just passed a motion which reforms the highly criticised ‘Article 301′. Whereas the article had previously stated that ‘insults to the Turkish identity’ were delictious, the reform has replaced the wording with the ‘Turkish nation’.
This is not in itself a revolution but it does show a will for change on the part of the Parliament. Indeed, the European Union has long been attacking the article for being against freedom of expression. This rather timid move is nonetheless a positive one… Taner Akšam, a Turkish historian who has frequently written about the Armenian massacres of 1915 is more cynical - in his view the difference between the two terms is so vague that the volume of arrests will remain the same. He has often been attacked for insulting ‘Turkishness’ as has Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish novelist and Nobel prize winner.
Still… 250 votes for the reform and 65 against - that is a pretty high score. The maximum penalty is being lowered from three years to two years in prison and now, a person cannot be prosecuted unless the Ministry of Justice backs the decision to do so. This is extremely important in the sense that it will have the effect of blocking the charges brought on by the self-appointed ultra-nationalists. In the long run, it is highly possible that the nationalists will tire of a court that sees them as a persistent nuisance - and this could lead to a total rethinking of the article 301.
Modest changes yes… But changes in the right direction it seems.
"Don't hate the media. Become the media" Jello Biafra