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Various journalists, writers and publishers charged under article 301 over various publications

(BIANET/IFEX) - Since article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was ratified, around 100 writers, journalists and academics have been tried under it. The authorities look set to continue using the law to target those who discuss controversial topics. Although there was a plan to review the law, the government has now accused non-governmental organisations of not producing a common draft on the recommended changes and therefore, is not going to amend the article. Thus, dozens of people will spend time in court again.

Human rights activists had called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), to change the law, arguing that the fact that Hrant Dink was tried under Article 301 made him a target for murder.

Before the assassination of Hrant Dink, Prime Minister Erdogan had suggested a collaborative effort with the CHP but was rebuffed by CHP leader Deniz Baykal.

Currently, magazines "Nokta" and "Tempo", newspapers "Birgün", "Agos" and "Gündem", and publishers Doz and Sorun are on trial over news and articles they have published.

Ahmet Sik, a journalist for "Nokta" magazine, which has closed down, and security expert Lale Sariibrahimoglu are both on trial over an interview article entitled "Military must stay away from domestic security" which was published on 8 February 2007. They will appear before a Penal Court in Bakirköy, Istanbul, on 24 October.

In the case against "Tempo", after Ibrahim Güclü, speaker for the Diyarbakir Kürd-Der Association, gave an interview to "Tempo" journalist Enis Mazhar Tayman. Güclü, Tayman and, initially, the editor concerned, Neval Barlas, were charged with "degrading Turkishness and the republic" and "inciting the public to disobey laws". Proceedings against Barlas have now been dismissed as the author of the interview is clear. The court case will continue on 16 October.

In another case, Eren Keskin, a lawyer and the former Istanbul branch president of the Human Rights Association (IHD), is still on trial over an article entitled "Special forces at work", which commented on the Hrant Dink murder. His case continues on 27 September.

Meanwhile, writer and director Umur Hozatli is on trial under article 301 over two articles published in the "Gündem" newspaper, entitled "Irritating devotion" and "A good father has started working". His trial continues on 19 September.

On 16 May, the court considered five charges against Hozatli, former "Gündem" editor-in-chief Irfan Ucar and writer Sinan Kara. A statement from the newspaper's owner, Hasan Bayar, who is living abroad, is still to be procured.

In yet another case, Ali Riza Vural, an editor with Doz Publishers, is being tried for the publication of Iraqi Kurdish leader Mesut Barzani's two-volume book, "Barzani and the Kurdish National Freedom Movement". He is charged with "insulting and ridiculing the republic". His case continues on 18 July, at a Penal Court in Beyoglu, Istanbul.

The case against Hrant Dink's son Arat Dink, the managing editor and licence holder of "Agos" newspaper, Serkis Seropyan continues on 18 July at a Penal Court in Sisli, Istanbul. They are charged with "degrading Turkishness". The case is based on the republished interview by Reuters news agency with Hrant Dink, in which he stated that he believed an Armenian genocide happened.

In another case, Osman Tiftikci, author of the book, "The evolution of the army from Ottoman times to today", and Sýrrý Öztürk, of Sorun Publishers, are on trial for "degrading the army". Because Tiftikci lives abroad, a writ of summons has been issued. The case continues on 4 July.

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